Thank you NetGalley and Tor Books for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
Synopsis: What if you knew how and when you will die?
Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.
But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard's loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.
But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due. (Amazon)
Publication Date: February 20, 2020
Genre: Fantasy / YA
Rating: 3 stars
What a fascinating premise to this new fantasy novel. How can anyone who's a fan of the genre resist? Unfortunately, the reality fell short of the premise, which is always a disappointment.
The first part of the book dragged more than it needed to, and then I noticed a pattern throughout the rest of it until I arrived at the fourth and final section of The Unspoken Name. Chapters in novels, usually, end at a specific moment in the storytelling process. There's a sixth sense in the reader that instinctively knows when a break will come and another chapter will start up because that hitch naturally comes to pass. But this novel lacked that, which resulted in chapters going on and on for such long periods of time that it felt as if it were taking me longer than usual to read. And this structural discrepancy distracted me so much from enjoying the whole piece that at times I thought of setting it aside.
The Traitor's Grave, the fourth part of the novel, was excellent. Whatever action lacked throughout the first part of The Unspoken Name was packed into this section. The last five chapters, especially, were delicious to read. There was murder, torture, a fast-paced and heroic liberation of a kidnapped character... It was fantastic, and exciting, and made me wonder why the first part of this story was not like that... Until I recalled the very special and important chapter structure's fissure.
I had a difficult time grasping the full personality of the lead, which was odd, because almost every other character made it really easy for me to see who they were—with the exception of Sethennai, and that's a valid point given who his character really is and what it hide. But Csorwe went through the novel almost listlessly. She would rise to the occasion whenever physical action called for it, but otherwise she seemed content to just go along with the flow. We're told again and again that she's the right hand of Sethennai, she's this tough and dangerous sword-woman, but I never saw that. The only time that I saw her lift her hand with a blade was either in self defense, or in an attempt to help others around her. Whatever reputation was attached to her never came to pass because by the time that she had gained it, the story had fast-forwarded and we never got to see it, which made it impossible to believe.
Others, like Shuthmili, herself, were thankfully a breath of fresh air. She came out of her cocoon little by little, and beautifully at that. She was enjoyable to see evolve, give in to her sense of humor, give into the madness and danger that lives inside of her. Her, Oranna and Tal—who is unapologetically himself, with every tarnish that his personality holds—were the trio that saved this story and made me want to continue reading.
The world is fantastic to see described, the magic system is very interesting—and I always enjoy it when magic is directly derived from the gods in a novel's pantheon—as are the few character races that we meet. Especially Atharaisse, of Echentyr.
There was beauty to The Unspoken Name, and growth that still has time to occur. The first in a series is not always fully realized, so I have high hopes should the second novel be released in the future.
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