After enjoying Tribute so thoroughly, it was no surprise that I got my hands on Outcaste as soon as I could. In fact, Outcaste was in my hands before I had even finished reading Tribute, because I knew I would need – not want! – it as soon as I could.
I started reading Outcaste then as soon as I had finished Tribute, and I was in no way disappointed. It was every bit as good as its prequel, with a totally new setting, magnificent improvement on the characters which had been introduced in Tribute, and a host of new and equally interesting characters.
Zara is on a quest for revenge – but is she amongst friends, or the bitterest of enemies?
Fleeing from the dangerous and powerful mage society she has betrayed, Zara has taken refuge in the Maker city of Gengst, where she knows she will face persecution and death if her identity is uncovered. She must live without magic, and even though she can finally be with the man she loves, her new life is far from the utopia she had dreamt it would be.
As the Knowledge Seekers work together to build machines powerful enough to end the centuries-long war between the mages and the non-magical Makers, Zara finds her loyalties and love tested to breaking point. She must face the evil that is her heritage, uncover the truth behind the childhood tragedy that haunts her – and find the strength to believe in herself.
Renner has done an excellent job here of creating a world which is nuanced and intriguing. Everything which we learned about the flawed and believable Asphodel in Tribute was built upon by the totally different, yet equally solid Gengst-on-the-Wall, the Maker city where the majority of this book is set.
The development which started so strongly in Tribute is continued really well in Outcaste – the romantic relationship, friendships, and antagonisms are all expanded upon in really interesting and dynamic ways and Zara, while occasionally incredibly frustrating, is still a really engaging and enjoyable narrator, who sucks you into her flawed and fantastic world.
Twiss remains my favourite character, but Otter propelled himself way up the ranks to take second place, as the leader of their cross-country diplomatic expedition. I missed a few characters from the first book, but was compensated by the introduction of some new Maker characters who provided a hugely interesting and different perspective on the other segment of this wall-divided world.
I’ve never read anything else by Ellen Renner, but if she writes any more YA fantasy, I’ll be first in line to pick it up from the shelf.
Absolutely wonderful duology of books, which ticked all the boxes for me in ways I never knew I needed them to, and would have no issues recommending. They’ve propelled themselves to the top of my list for 2015, and probably onto my all-time favourites list.