The Mountain of Kept Memory by Rachel Neumeier. ★★★★
The Mountain of Kept Memory is a stand alone fantasy novel that reminded me of City of Stairs. The gods died long ago, but the Kieba has retained some of their power, which she’s used to protect the people of Carastind… until the king manages to anger her. With the kingdom on the edge of invasion, the prince and princess of Carastind are desperately trying to salvage their kingdom’s independence from the forces arrayed against them.
While The Mountain of Kept Memory is firmly in the fantasy genre, the eponymous mountain, the dwelling place of the Kieba, had an almost science fiction feel to it. I really loved the influence, and I thought the background mythology of the dead gods and the Kieba was one of the best things about the book. The world building was just detailed enough to avoid feeling generic, but I think I’ll be remembering the Kieba and her mountain for quite a while.
The narrative switches POV between two protagonists. Gulien Madalin is the prince and heir to the throne. He’s conscientious and tries to be a good son, but he’s realizing that his father may not have the kingdom’s best interests at heart. Oressa is his sister, the princess. She was a pretty awesome female lead. She’s adept at playing the role of the demure princess, but she’s actually got a rebellious streak a mile wide and is far more intelligent than she lets on. If anything happens within the palace, she’s likely to know about it.
Tone-wise, The Mountain of Kept Memory doesn’t follow the grimdark trend. While I wouldn’t call it fluffy, it’s not dark either. There is a minor romance subplot for Oressa, but it doesn’t receive much focus. The story’s more centered around the political drama of invading armies and trying to seek the Kieba’s help.
The Mountain of Kept Memory is one of the few stand alone epic fantasy novels I’ve come across in a while. I was doubting Rachel Neumeier’s ability to fit the plot into one volume, but she ended up surprising me. I enjoyed reading it quite a bit, and I’d recommend it for anyone looking for a more traditional fantasy novel.
I received an ARC of The Mountain of Kept Memory from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.