Cloud Roads, by Martha Wells.
Continuing my quest for good non-Tolkien, non-Celtic fantasy… I don’t remember why I picked up this book — I think I just looked up “2011 Fantasy” in the library catalog — but I’m glad I did.
Moon isn’t sure what he is. There are many kinds of peoples in the Three Worlds, of all shapes, colors, and skin textures, but he’s the only shape-shifter he knows. Unfortunately for Moon, the shape he shifts into looks just like the Fell, vicious creatures who destroy camps and communities. Moon has been hiding his true self his whole life as he tries to fit in with the other peoples.
Just when things look dire for Moon, he meets someone who knows what he is. The stranger also knows that Moon could make a big difference to the future of his own kind.
In Cloud Roads Martha Wells has created a believable world with many different, yet plausible, peoples and societies. Despite everything being new, she doesn’t overwhelm the reader with overly complicated vocabulary and names. She tells what we need to know, when we know it, and doesn’t make us resort constantly to complicated glossaries, all while telling a great story.
First in the Books of the Raksura series. Recommended.