Taking place in a fictional nineteenth-century world, Tanya Huff’s vaguely steampunk novel The Silvered starts off in the country of Aydori.
Young Mirian Maylin’s parents want her to marry into the Pack — Aydori’s ruling class of werewolves. The Pack traditionally only marries Mage-pack, female magic users. Nevertheless, Mirian’s mother is hopeful she’ll make the cut; marrying Pack would ensure status and prosperity for their family.
Sadly, these simple dreams don’t last long. The Kresentian Empire soon invades Aydori.
Officially they want to expand their borders, but in reality the fighting is a cover for Captain Reiter and his squad of loyal soldiers. They’re sent in to capture the leaders of the Mage-pack whose husbands are fighting on the front lines. The emperor’s Soothsayers have given him a prophecy, you see:
When wild and mage together come, one in six or six in one, Empires rise or empires fall, the unborn child begins it all.
They take this to mean six pregnant mages must be secured and brought back to the Empire, because one’s future child holds the Empire’s fate in its unborn hands.
The mission goes smoothly enough and Reiter and his men take possession of the members of the Mage-pack as they travel by carriage by suppressing their magic via golden hair nets.
However, there are only five mages and not the six they were ordered to capture. Mirian then happens along with her parents and the soldiers mistake her for the sixth mage. They manage to capture her, but Tomas, the last surviving member of the Pack (the others were killed in an artillery strike) rescues her. They then chase after the soldiers in a desperate bid to rescue the women of the Mage-pack. Along the way, Mirian discovers both her latent magical powers and her feelings for Tomas.
The Silvered is a well-written novel. It has compelling characters and Tanya Huff is skilled with prose.
Unfortunately, the story takes a while to pick up speed, only getting really good about two-thirds of the way through. The scenes with Mirian and Tomas chasing the soldiers drag on and on and it feels like they are never going to get anywhere. I think if Huff had removed or shortened certain scenes, that would have gone a long way to perfecting the story.
But once the plot reached full speed, I didn’t want to put it down. If you ask me, the measure of a good book is if you’d like to read the sequel and in this case I can say I would. Here’s hoping there will be one!