“A dangerous game she was playing; she was aware of that, but she didn’t want to risk losing the very asset that put her on top of the underground trading business.”
Fates intertwine in unexpected ways in The Third Crossing by Karim Soliman. The Third Crossing is a prequel novel to Soliman’s epic fantasy series, War of the Last Day, taking place about seventeen years prior to the events of the main series.
The Third Crossing alternates perspectives between two main point-of-view characters. First up is Natsu, a widowed sea smuggler carrying on her late husband’s trafficking of enhanced bowstrings. We meet the second point-of-view character, Akira, on his way to see the Emperor. Akira is shocked when his cousin, Kim, is selected for training with the elite junior Red Cloaks.
There is an obvious East Asian influence throughout the worldbuilding of The Third Crossing, apparent in both the character names and geographical locations. For example, much of the action concerns the island of Hokydo, a thinly veiled version of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
The Third Crossing has a vibrant magic system, although I was a bit annoyed by the terminology of channeling “anerjy,” which has just enough letters changed to escape being autocorrected to “energy.”
As you can guess from the name of the series, the main plot concerns an impending War of the Last Day, a holy war that is at the forefront of everyone’s minds in the land of Koya. Unfortunately, The Third Crossing does not offer much context for the holy war beyond simply reclaiming the Koyans’ homeland. The novel would have benefitted from more exposition to motivate this key conflict and provide additional historical context. Despite the action-filled plot, with this underdeveloped exposition I felt detached from the characters and their motivations for most of the book.
While this is a cut for SPFBO9, I believe fans of Karim Soliman’s War of the Last Day series will still find much to love here, with many unexpected twists that will enhance their enjoyment of the series as a whole.