Tashué’s faith in the law is beginning to crack. Three years ago, he stood by when the Authority condemned Jason to the brutality of the Rift for non-compliance. When Tashué’s son refused to register as tainted, the laws had to be upheld. He’d never doubted his job as a Regulation Officer before, but three years of watching your son wither away can break down even the strongest convictions.
Then a dead girl washed up on the bank of the Brightwash, tattooed and mutilated. Where had she come from? Who would tattoo a child? Was it the same person who killed her? Why was he the only one who cared?
Will Tashué be able to stand against everything he thought he believed in to get the answers he’s looking for?
Tashué Blackwood is a regulation officer with the Authority, an agency dedicated to the oversight of those deemed “tainted” or “talented”. He believes in the Authority and the Dominion’s laws, until a body washes up on the banks of the Brightwash. It’s a young girl, horribly mutilated. As he investigates the cause of her death and where she came from, he begins to question everything the Authority stands for.
While there are a few other point of view chapters throughout the book, Tashué seems to be the main one. As a character, he’s definitely interesting. He’s a former soldier (cavalryman), who joined the Authority as a regulation officer later in life. He has a few close friends, but is largely alone. His story bounces between his job, his encounters with Stella Whiterock (more on her later), and visits with his son, Jason, who is imprisoned in the Rift. The Rift is a nasty place reserved for the “talented” who refuse to register with the Authority.
Stella is one of Tashué’s neighbors. She’s “talented”, considered a whisperer—someone who can take the pain away from the dying. Early in the story, her case is given to Tashué. He’s known her for some time prior to that, but doesn’t learn her past until well after her case is assigned to him.
There are a couple other characters who receive a few chapters of their own. There’s Jason Blackwood in the Rift. Lorne, a man with many connections who Tashué comes to at times during the investigation, but who also fights for money (the fights in the Hive are brutal – pretty much anything goes.) And Ilea Winter, an aristocrat married to the mayor who wants nothing more than to see her husband fail. Predictably, Ilea is conniving.
At times the story becomes very dark, but there’s a thread of hope that runs through the narrative—the hope that things can be made better, the system can be dismantled or changed. As Tashué proceeds with his investigation, he’s drawn into politics and uncovers some very ugly government secrets the Authority is willing to kill to keep silent. Almost no one featured in the story is safe—whether they’re hunted/watched by the Authority, sought by a rebel group known as the Red Dawn, or on the wrong side of powerful and ruthless men, they’re all in danger somehow.
Legacy of the Brightwash is a pretty lengthy book, and I felt it got off to a relatively slow start. There was a lot of buildup that needed to happen, so if you’re interested in reading it, just be patient. It’s worth the wait.
Before I conclude this post, I need to talk a little about the ending. Given everything that happens throughout the story, the pain and darkness Tashué (and everyone else) experiences, and the heavy-handedness of the Authority, the way it ended wasn’t surprising. It’s not a happy ending.
As I reached the 95% mark, I was pretty sure I knew something of how this book was going to end, and I also knew I wasn’t going to like it. I haven’t been so frustrated with an ending I could see coming since I read 1984 by George Orwell 25 years ago. So, you’ve been warned. (I want to clarify a bit: The end is exactly what I’d come to anticipate from this story. I wasn’t expecting to like it – so this is not by any means a criticism of the book.) It was well done.