Synopsis: The emperor of Annur is dead, slain by enemies unknown. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. But each of them also has a life-path on which their father set them, destinies entangled with both ancient enemies and inscrutable gods.
The circle is closing. The stakes are high. And old truths will live again . .
Holly: Let me start by saying I fucking loved this book! I am almost sad it has sat on my shelf for so long, but at least that meant I got to buddy read it with you at this point in time!
However, I want to begin with the negatives for me in this book, so I can move onto all of the positives!
I had issues with how Staveley treated the female characters in the first half. A female character was killed off quite early into the book, which was a shame, mainly because it felt like it was used as a plot device to further the storyline of the male character. Why does yet another female character have to make this sacrifice?
I also feel like the secondary female roles are written as fodder for the more significant male characters. Is it too much to ask that the female characters are written equally as well as their male counterparts?!
And lastly, there are three POV’s within this story. The two brothers & a sister. The brothers have equal chapters & the poor sister is relatively unheard of for a good portion of the book. This doesn’t give us much chance to get to know her, therefore she becomes one of the least interesting characters. Which blows. LET HER HAVE MORE STORYLINE IN THE NEXT BOOK!
Phew! In saying that, I truly did love this book & I am excited about Gwenna. I think she is badass & by far my favorite character so far! I want a full book dedicated to her!
Corey: I didn’t react as strongly to those issues, but after hearing your perspective, I can see it a bit more clearly.
That said, the imbalance between the three POVs was pretty glaring, especially towards the end of the book, when we don’t hear from Adare (the sister) for over a hundred pages. I’m going to assume that we’ll see more of her going forward.
I’m joking. I actually didn’t read the book because I just stared at the beautiful cover for a week!
Holly: I’ve got you beat! I stared at the gorgeous cover for about a year before even cracking it open!
Yeah, you had counted something like 175 pages before we heard from Adare again. Far too long!
I absolutely love this book, though. I am fully invested in these characters, and can’t wait to continue reading this series.
I liked how there are multiple genres weaved into the book. It’s a bit coming-of-age across all of the POVs, a little military fantasy with Valyn training to become Kettral, there’s some political intrigue, and a lot of history. Plus the whole monastic element which was quite interesting.
Holly: I agree! I absolutely love this book. I love the world-building, the progression of the plot, the writing (besides the aforementioned issues) & especially that the narrative is between three siblings. I think that brings something different to the old typical fantasy trope of the “angsty next in line after a death plotting revenge” story.
It also reminded me a bit of The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, so I’m not mad at that! I hope it will get a bit more fleshed out like Sanderson’s epic as we go on!
Valyn’s storyline was by far my favorite! I love the whole military aspect & I also find him the most relatable/sympathetic character.
Corey: And also the fact that these three siblings seem (at this point), to have come from a relatively loving environment, and that the Emperor is spoken of so highly. That was kind of refreshing. I’m sure there are some skeletons in the closet we’ll find out about, but it was set up in such a way that you’re pulling for the whole family, together.
And I am really interested in the mystery surrounding the Csestriim and the Nevariim. We just barely skimmed the surface with that whole story!
Corey: Yeah, the history that’s presented here is deep. Although when you learn that Brian Staveley taught history, religion, and philosophy, it makes sense!
Holly: It is evident he has knowledge in those fields, for sure!
Overall, I think this was a fantastic first installment & I am excited to be reunited with the siblings!
Corey: Absolutely!! Looking forward to diving back into this world soon!!
The Grimdragons Rating: 4.75 stars!
Corey: 5 stars
Holly: 4.5 stars