The first edition cover of River Secrets.
|Series||The Books of Bayern|
|September 5, 2006|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|LC Class||PZ8.H134 Riv 2006|
|Preceded by||Enna Burning|
|Followed by||Forest Born|
River Secrets is a fantasy novel by Shannon Hale. It is the third book in the Books of Bayern series.
The story begins as the main character, Razo, is watching a meeting. The king and queen of Bayern speak with a Tiran ambassador and agree that they should exchange ambassadors to promote peace between the two countries. After the reception, Razo is chosen to be one of twenty soldiers from Bayern's Own to join the ambassador in Ingridan, the capital of Tira. Razo experiences self-doubt and believes that their captain only chose him because of his participation in the war. As winter creeps into Bayern, the ambassador, Lady Megina, and twenty of Bayern's Own leave for Tira. On the way, Razo finds a burned body hidden in the trees near a river. After talking with his captain, they assume that Enna might be burning again—either that, or the burner might be from Tira, because the body was placed where it could be easily seen by the Tiran escort group, who are led by a soldier named Ledel. When the party arrives at Ingridan, they are taken to Thousand Year's Palace, where they are introduced to Lord Belvan and Lady Dasha, their host and hostess.
Razo finds more burned bodies and still doesn't know who the burner is. After being beat up by one of Ledel's soldiers, Tumas, he goes to his captain requesting to be sent home. Talone rejects his plea, and asks him a series of random questions. After answering them all correctly, Razo is told that he has excellent observation skills, and is given the job of spying to find the murderer. Razo proceeds to watch and spy on everyone. A week passes and the Tiran party challenges Bayern's Own to a mock swordfight. Razo is humiliated with defeat and the Tiran soldiers mock him. Then Finn speaks up and tells them to challenge Razo with a long-ranged weapon, his sling to their spears. Razo hits every target and discovers that he's the best sling Bayern had.
Summer approaches and the Tiran soldiers and all the nobles leave for the coolness of the country. Razo goes out to buy shoes and meets the prince of Tira. The prince tells him that he has no true power, except the power of the people's opinion. Razo proceeds to spend most of the summer with the prince so that people can get used to seeing Bayerners. They then dye their boring white robes that all Tiran wear rich and deep colors. Next thing they knew, everyone was wearing their Tiran robes.with Bayern dyes; however, this is not nearly enough to turn popular opinion against the warmongers.
Soon after Ledel's cohort returns from their summer assignment outside the city, Razo discovers a map and overhears a discussion that leads him to believe that Ledel was behind the burning. Razo and Dasha go to the burner's warehouse but are captured. They fight back and are nearly killed - although Razo ends up killing Tumas with his sling - until Enna and Finn, tipped off by Conrad, arrive. Enna and Dasha, whom Razo discovered had the gift of water-speak, fight the newly-taught Tiran burners while Finn and Ledel duel; the Bayeners and Dasha win, and the whole story - of Ledel attempting to teach fire to soldiers in order to spark another war, only to have them die like Enna's brother Leifer - comes out.
Soon before the Bayern cohort is due to return home, Geric and Isi (King and Queen of Bayern) come to see the vote for or against war; they arrive too late, but come just in time for the celebration, escorting Isi's sister Napralina. At the celebratory feast, Finn makes a fool of himself by playing the harp and singing a love song to Enna, and Enna finally accepts his proposal to marry him. After the dinner, Razo and Dasha confess feelings for each other and discuss how they can make their relationship work with such separate identities. The novel ends with Razo and Dasha together in a boat, with Razo telling Dasha Isi's story. (see: Goose Girl)
Razo - A witty, clumsy, lovable, 17-year-old boy who helped protect Enna while she burned in the war. He believes that Captain Talone made a mistake in choosing him for Bayern's Own because he can't fight well. He struggles to prove his worth to his comrades by solving the case of the burner. His eye of observation is exceptional. Razo also falls in love with Lady Dasha.
Enna - A gifted fire speaker who burned most of the Tiran army during the war. Enna has a sharp tongue and is very outgoing, and is one of Razo's best friend. She volunteers to go to Tira in an attempt to prove that she can be useful for something besides destroying. She is in love with Finn but their relationship is strained throughout most of the book due both to Enna's refusal to marry Finn and the fact that Finn "won't make a fool of himself" for her. In the end of the book, however, Finn proposes to Enna one last time at the farewell banquet and she gladly and tearfully accepts, indicating that her character has matured since the beginning of the story.
Finn - The best swordsman in Bayern's Own, and one of Razo's best friends. Finn is serious and wary, and is more emotionally mature and ultimately less carefree than Razo. He is very in love with Enna, and often sleeps beside her to keep her from having nightmares about the Tiran soldiers she burned - however, he refuses to make love to Enna until she marries him, a fact that Enna seems to resent and Razo finds amusing.
Captain Talone- The captain of Bayern's Own. Talone in general hides his emotions, but he is very devoted to Isi and Geric. He gives Razo the position as spy, which was why he picked him to come to Tira.
Dasha - The daughter of the ambassador of Tira, she volunteers to be the liaison of the Thousand Year's Palace. She knows that Enna is the secret fire-speaker of Bayern, but wants to meet her to learn her art. She has "river fingers", meaning she can manipulate water. She fears her grandfather's fate of the water overcoming her. She falls in love with Razo and they begin a relationship at the end of the book.
Isi - Isi is the queen of Bayern (although she was born in Kildenree) and is best friends with Razo, Enna, and Finn. Her full name is Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee. She can control wind and fire.
Geric - Isi's husband and the compassionate king of Bayern, who is also close friends with Razo, Enna and Finn.
Tusken - Isi and Geric's infant son, the heir to the Bayern throne.
His Radiance - The prince of Tira, who won't have an actual name until he marries. His Radiance is extremely childish and doesn't seem to realize the tension between the two nations. He is petty and carefree and befriends Razo when they run into each other at a marketday. The people of Tira are very fond of their prince, in spite of the fact that he has virtually no power in the nation. Neither Enna nor Finn particularly like His Radiance, but they protect him to keep the peace in Tira. At the end of the book, His Radiance meets Isi's sister Napralina-Victery, and it is presumed that they later get married.
Ledel - The Tiran captain. He attempts to teach his soldiers fire speak so that they can burn Bayern like Bayern burned them. However, he doesn't really understand how it works, and almost all of his men burn themselves from the inside out.
Megina - The ambassador of Bayern to Tira.
Awards and nominations
- Nominated for Yalsa's Teens' Top Ten
- Nominated for the ALA's Best Books for Young Adults
- A St. Louis Post Dispatch Best Book of 2006
- 2006, USA, Bloomsbury USA ISBN 1-58234-901-0, Pub date 5 September 2006, Hardback
- "Nominations for the 2007 Teens’ Top Ten Books". American Library Association. Retrieved 2008-02-14.
- Books: River Secrets on the author's official website