February 11, 2013

The Cadet of Tildor - Alex Lidell

The Cadet of Tildor Alex Lidell book cover
The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 10, 2013
Source: DAC ARC Tours (Thanks!) || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

Having already survived six years at the Tildor’s top military academy, Sixteen-year-old Renee De Winter is determined to graduate, training day and night to compete with her male classmates. When the boys overpower her parries, she works harder. When a bully sabotages her gear, she fights without it. But when an underground crime group captures her mentor for its illegal gladiatorial games, she must choose between her career and her conscience. Determined to penetrate the group’s inner circles, Renee will leap from academia to the crime filled streets, pick up a sword, and weigh law against loyalty. (from author's website)

This is one of those instances (and they happen to fairly often) where I truly, deeply loved a book so much that I'm afraid that my review will not be able to do it justice. The Cadet of Tildor reminded me of exactly why I love reading fantasy. When an author creates an world and does it well, I love it. When an author brings to life a character in a way that makes it feel as if they've always existed, I love it. When fantastical elements, like magic and swords and wars and so on, are brought together into a story rife with intrigue and thoughtful conflict, I love it. In short, this book was written precisely for readers like me!

This book reminds me of the fantasy novels I used to read, back before I started blogging. In particular, it reminded me of the Song of the Lioness series crossed with the Protector of the Small series (both by Tamora Pierce and both fantastic, in case you were wondering) - there's the element of a girl attempting to do something typically done by a boy, and the element of a kingdom or country being torn apart by civil conflicts. There may be similar elements, but the author has certainly managed to create a lore all her own, and one that's incredibly captivating.

The world that was described in this book is fascinating, mostly because there are such divisions between all these groups of people. There's three main groups: the Family (who control the distribution of veesi, which is an illegal drug, and require payment for protection), the Vipers (who are a bit more inclined to violence and brutality and fight to the death as a culture) and the Crown (who is basically King Lysian, who rules over the kingdom and tries to broker peace and justice in the midst of these two groups). With each group acting upon its own particular interests, it's not a surprise that there's conflict - and quite a lot of conflict - within the pages of this book.

Renee, however, belongs to another group of people entirely as a student at the Academy. I love Renee. She's stubborn and spirited, but she's also kind and loyal and trustworthy. I loved that she really wanted to prove that she could accomplish her goal of becoming a Servant of the Crown, even if that pitted her against males who were probably bigger and stronger than she was. It was easy for me to like her because she was not portrayed as someone perfect, or someone magically capable of doing the things that the boys could. She had to work hard towards reaching her goal. I admired the fact that she didn't let naysayers stop her - she just kept on going and going and going.

And don't get me started on how much I adore Korish Savoy! He's the commander referred to in the summary, so it shouldn't surprise you much to hear me say that he's supremely good at what he does, and is an expert at harnessing strength and strategy. I loved that right alongside his gruff personality and unusual methods of teaching, he's also got a soft heart, an unwavering loyalty and a hidden side to him that we only really learn the origins of later on. His parts were always fun for me to read, because he's just so doggedly determined to be brash and sarcastic and show-no-fear to everyone (when really he's a whole lot more than that).

Now that you've met my two favorite characters, I will go out on a limb and say that the author needs to make magic happen between them. Though there were really no obvious romantic overtones in their relationship and the age gap would possibly present a bit of a problem, I seriously kept reading too much into various moments between them. The connection they form, first as teacher-student and then as friends, is so compelling. As a reader, I logically knew that nothing would happen but I kept wanting something to happen. There's some unresolved business there and I really think that it can turn into something more. I'm definitely not the only one who feels like this, as evidenced by April's review.

Clearly, this is a book that I can fawn over, as evidenced by the paragraphs above. I dove into the world of Tildor and finished this book feeling the sweet satisfaction of a good conclusion... while also having the sneaking feeling that there's so much more in store for these characters. This debut is a wonderful reminder of all the things I love about fantasy novels, and I look forward to seeing what happens next. I highly recommend The Cadet of Tildor as one of my favorite fantasy debuts of this year.


  1. This sounds like a fun read I already love the sounds of this Korish character. I'm not big on fantasy though so I always need to read lots about it before I take the plunge but so far this one has gotten a surprising amount of great reviews so I'm curious!!

  2. I'm slowly starting to read more fantasy, and this definitely sounds like one I'd like to read! Especially because you loved it so much :)

  3. YES! I'm so with you on the Renee and Korish thing! This needs to happen! I was also reading way too much in their moments ;)
    I'm so happy you loved it! Books like this one are why I love fantasy and I really hope there'll be a sequel! I also loved that Renee had to work and didn't have special abilities for no reason!

  4. I've read nothing but amazing things about this book! Including this review! And I totally understand worrying about not being able to write a proper review for a book you LOOOOOVE. :) Don't worry though. This review is definitely GREAT! :D

  5. It really is impressive when a fantasy novel is well rounded in that it has great characters and a well built world! I'll keep an eye out for this - great review, hun, it definitely did the book justice!

  6. This has been on my wishlist for a while now and your review makes me want to read it even more. The mc sounds awesome and Korish Savoy? *swoons* Fab review!

  7. I was kind of on the fence about this book because I thought it was too similar to Tamora Pierce's books, but this sounds super unique and interesting now after reading your review :) Thanks!

  8. I am glad to hear that you think The Cadet of Tildor lives up to its praise comparing it to Tamora Pierce's books, Alexa! I have such a weakness for political conflicts within books, and those three power groups do sound pretty fascinating (and terrifying). When I read the book, it sounds as though I will probably also ship Renee and Savoy. If we think of Pierce's possible inspiration/influence on this book, however, then we can remember that Pierce had a huge age gap between Daine and Numair and it totally worked. So there should be hope! :)

  9. Yay! I was very excited for this one and I'm so glad it lived up to your expectations, and more. Though I haven't read any of Tamora Pierce's books yet (I KNOW, RIGHT?) I love fantasy a LOT, and I'm definitely looking forward to this one right now!

  10. Ugh. I want to read this one so badly but I left it at home!! I did buy it because you were Tweeting non-stop about it, though.

    As for the age difference, Daine and Numair did it, soooooooo... don't rule it out yet ;)

    Great review, lady. I can't WAIT to read this one once I'm stateside.


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