The Silver Crystal is the first of The Red Kingdom trilogy, introducing the three major characters of the series: Rhael, a bounty hunter; Phessipi, the leader of a hated and persecuted minority, and Levas, a high-ranking officer of The Order. In a medieval world, the ‘Corrupted’ – men and women with abilities that go beyond those common to all people—are hunted down and mutilated in a way that destroys their extra powers. Hunting ‘Corrupted’ for The Order is Rhael’s job, when we meet him at the beginning of the story.
The Silver Crystal is more character-focused than action-focused, although it has its share of action too. In this first book, the usual hero’s journey of fantasy is given a twist, and the other main characters grapple with the decisions and consequences of leadership and rebellion – costs both personal and professional. Heavy on dialogue, including some passages of banter that are meant to lighten the mood but to this reader stood out as devices designed to do exactly that, not integral to the story – the story still moves along at a good pace, the point of view alternating between Rhael and Phessipi, until fairly far into the book, when Levas is introduced.
This late introduction of the third main character felt a little off-balance, but as this is the first book of a trilogy, in the context of the full story it makes sense. The world-building is sketched lightly but sufficiently, and characters fit their roles. Rhael’s sidekick, Gobo, might provide light relief for some readers, but I found him annoying, like an Ewok in Star Wars. (But then, other people love Ewoks.) Overall, an intriguing fantasy suitable in my judgement for readers twelve and above, with themes of discovery, acceptance, and understanding of differences running through the story.