Risha is strong and outspoken, and at 16 has developed into a leader of men, a strategic thinker, and a woman — one can imagine — who will assume the legacy left by her mother.
The story begins with 13-year-old Risha living a simple life in the mountains with her father. When her father suddenly dies, Risha is left alone, an outcast of her village. Disguised as a boy, Risha leaves the village with a group of traders, on a quest to find out the truth about her mother and her heritage.
Here begins a grand sweeping adventure as Risha is caught up in dangerous pursuits, intrigue, trickery and betrayal. She is left for dead, confused by the actions of many, and is made to hide from those who wish her harm.
She finds out by chance that she is Cattra’s daughter. Who is Cattra — and why do so many wish Risha harm?
Cattra’s Legacy tells of the journey of Risha, not only across the wild land in which she lives, but from timid young girl to fierce and powerful young woman. Risha’s world is full of secrets, lies, promises, danger, strategy, rescue missions, and plenty of fighting. Anna has created Elgard, a world that is both beautiful and harsh, and she takes Risha from one corner of the land to another. From her rocky mountain home of Torfell where she has grown up, Risha travels through the busy city of Caledon, the Lacstone Marshes and the Citadel at LeMarc. As you delve further into the story you discover the politics of Elgard, the struggle for power between the various rulers, and the enormity of the task that Risha has ahead of her. There was one particular part of the story, when Risha and Torfell are going through the marshes, that reminded me of the Swamps of Sadness scene from one of my favourite movies, The Neverending Story. It’s a heart-breaking part of both the movie and Anna’s book, and I’d love to know if this part of the story is a tribute to that movie or just a coincidence.
Risha is a wonderful character who grows so much throughout the story, and she grew on me more and more as the story progressed. She starts off as a timid young girl who lives a quiet life with her father in the mountains of Torfell, but the events of the story mean she has to grow up fast. She grows in to a fierce and powerful young woman, who is very self-assured and you wouldn’t want to cross her. You know that she is going to become a strong, but kind leader of her people and will do everything in her power to unite the people of Elgard. One thing I really like about her is that she’s really focused on her duties. Even though she could have her pick of the males around her, romance isn’t her number one priority. I’m sure that romance will come in to the other books that are to follow in the series.
Between Cattra’s Legacy and R.L. Stedman’s A Necklace of Souls, there certainly isn’t going to be a shortage of strong female main characters for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards next year. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series and see how Risha develops even further. I certainly know that Risha is ready for the challenges that lie ahead.