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This story really pulled me in. It starts as a story of pure survival. A boy and his grandmother live in the desert under the shadow of a volcano. All alone, their small cleft gives them shelter and a place to grow food. The boy Atrus is molded by the elder Anna, who teaches him to observe everything, use his instincts, hone his skills and to remember certain immutable truths about life. The boy has an innate thirst for knowledge, experimenting and adapting to this harsh world.
SPOILER: Life for Atrus changes forever when his father, who left him as a child, comes out of the volcano, telling stories of their now lost civilization and how he wants Atrus to come back with him to their former home. Atrus’s people, the D’Ni, lived deep underground and ruled an empire for thousands of years. There are mysteries and wonders that show the might of the D’Ni, and Atrus is told of the secret to their enduring kingdom before it fell. The D’Ni were world builders and used a special craft to fashion thousands of worlds by writing them into existence. Can Atrus and his father Gehn revive the once great D’Ni culture? What will it take and what are they willing to do? Their journey will take them to many unexpected places and challenge them with many decisions.