The Books of Bayern #3: River Secrets by Shannon Hale

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4.5 stars

Click here to view this book in Goodreads.

Razo has no idea why he was chosen to be a soldier. He can barely swing a sword, and his brothers are forever wrestling him to the ground. Razo is sure it’s out of pity that his captain asks him to join an elite mission–escorting the ambassador into Tira, Bayern’s great enemy.

But when the Bayern arrive in the strange southern country, Razo discovers the first dead body. He befriends both the high and low born, people who can perhaps provide them with vital information. And Razo is the one who must embrace his talents to get the Bayern soldiers home again, alive.

Newbery-Honor winner Shannon Hale returns the reader to the intrigue and magic of Bayern, first introduced in her critically acclaimed novel, The Goose Girl. Enter a world where even those with no special magical skills find in themselves something they never imagined. 

Synopsis from Goodreads.

How many books are there with a quirky, masculine, ambitious, loving, and funny main character shoved into the form of a physically small teen? Here’s the answer: not enough. River Secrets, however, delivers one of the best male characters I’ve seen in a long time. This book is a sight for sore eyes! It is filled with cunning plot twists, immensely loveable characters, and magical storylines. Though it is not an “on the edge of your seat” or a “poetically-written” kind of book, it is still so good! I knew that this series was one of Shannon Hale’s best, but this book tops the whole series. 

The characters, as I said, were immensely loveable. Sure not all of them were 3-dimensional, but they all “played” their parts in the storyline great. One reason why I attribute this book to having such great characters is because of the main character. Razo first came into the story with the first book, Goose Girl. His personality arcs along with the amount of his involvement in the story. In other words, a book fashioned from Razo’s perspective was a long time in coming. Razo is such a good perspective to read through because of how attentive he is. He notices everything, especially other character’s personality arcs. Shannon Hale does a really good job at getting herself and the reader inside Razo’s head, making this book one of the best she has ever written. 

The storyline is good. Not her best, mind you, but still good! The story has some great twists and storylines that make the story very, very interesting. 

One of my favorite things about the first book, Goose Girl, makes a “reappearance” in this one. The culture that Shannon built is wonderful! Seeing as River Secrets takes place elsewhere, we get a new dip into foreign cultures that Shannon Hale creates. I love this aspect of the book/series SO much!

Triggers: violence, kissing, teeny-tiny mentions of sexual behaviors.

Overall, this is another wonderful fantasy read for preteens and older! 

That’s all for today, y’all! If you’ve read this series, which was your favorite? Which looks the most interesting from what you can tell? Thanks for reading everyone! God bless!


A book is a dream that you hold in your hands.

Neil Geiman

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