Dunleavy Mallorough has prepared for years to be a Shield, and it's finally the big day, when she will be Chosen (hopefully) by the Source she will be paired with for life. Together Source and Shield are a bonded Pair, who work together to keep their world safe from the natural disasters that beset it.
To Dunleavy's chagrin, she is Chosen by the Source she finds unbearable: the fabled Shintaro Karish, who is not only handsome and noble-born, but popular, self-assured and heroic. Lee wants to do her job and stay out of the way but she is stuck with someone who will always be in the spotlight. To make things worse, the Pair are assigned to High Scape, a city so bedeviled by natural disasters that seven Pairs are assigned there.
That's where things really get interesting, when a disaster kills off all the other Pairs, leaving Kintaro and his reluctant partner the only ones standing between the city and complete destruction....
This is a fun set-up for a fantasy series. I liked the concept of the bonded Pairs (this isn't a romantic situation, although it has potential--but Pairs aren't supposed to get involved with each other) and the way they work together to diffuse energy of storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters. The hidden politics of the system of service were also intriguing, though mostly just alluded to in this book, the first in a series. I definitely hope to see the shadowy background emerge in more detail as the books go on.
What was a little less enthralling, unfortunately, was the main character the reader is supposed to identify with, Dunleavy (Lee to her friends). There is no really good reason for her antipathy to Karish and he never seems to show any of the traits she supposedly despises in him. In fact, he does everything he can to be friendly and work well with her. He in fact seemed to be something of a blandly pleasant non-entity most of the time, and it was hard to see either what was so charming and heroic about him or what was so irritating to Dunleavy.
However, the plot that these characters were enmeshed in definitely held my attention: what (or who) is causing the increasingly powerful and seemingly targetted disasters in High Scape? Is it something about the cities, or the Pairs themselves that is drawing the events, events that almost seem like attacks? Although I found myself impatient with Lee and wondering what the big deal was about Karish, I was drawn in and found myself turning the pages quickly.
I look forward to more from this first-time author and hope to see more development of these two characters as well as the interesting supporting cast, and the rather fascinating world they live in, in future installments.