The Unspoken Name – Review #Gifted
Thank you Jamie and Tor Books for gifting me a copy of The Unspoken Name via Netgalley to review. This is a very sought after book, which is not surprising as the blurb is fantastic! It is the first book in a brand new trilogy and I am really excited to share my review with you.
“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.”
Title: The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates – Book One)
Author: A.K. Larkwood
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: 20th February 2020
Amazon: Affiliate link
The Unspoken Name – Book Review
The Unspoken Name is a fantastic and surprising debut fantasy novel. This coming-of-age story is full to bursting with old gods, morally questionable mages and epic world building. Csorwe’s death has been foretold. Given the opportunity though, who wouldn’t rather be a thief, spy and assassin instead of a sacrifice? This is how the story opens and a wonderful adventure begins.
There are some really great, flavourful characters in The Unspoken Name. I love how fleshed out Larkwood’s characters are even when they don’t play a huge role in the book. Honestly, I was very surprised that certain characters (no spoilers) were only in the book for a short period as I thought they would be an inevitable part of the main action. What I didn’t realise is how much wider the main story is to what I thought it would be. It is lovely how some of the characters are referenced or pop up later on in the book. It makes the world feel complete. I will only talk about two of the main characters as I think you should discover the others and their level of importance yourself.
Csorwe is a well written, impulsive but thoughtful protagonist. She is a young, grey skinned Orcish girl who struggles to pick between listening to her heart or her head. This makes her a likeable character who isn’t overly predictable. Although I didn’t initially warm to her, it didn’t take long to win me over with her dry wit, intelligence and determination.
Belthandros Sethennai is a mysterious wizard who offers Csorwe a different path. He is a very cool character and I love that we don’t immediately know if he is a good guy or if Csorwe is running off with a villain. Sethennai is a likeable guy who you feel you can trust very quickly. He feels a little bit like Dumbledore in the way that he clearly knows SO much about magic and the wider world. Also, everyone secretly wants his approval. Belthandros is intelligent, talented, cocky and is not shy of political games or making power plays. As I say, a cool character and extremely interesting throughout the book.
Wow! There is so much to the world Larkwood has created that I am not sure where to begin…. We start the book in a small, well defined world where a young girl has a monastery to explore. Where we end up is, well, all over the universe! I love how the book spends time introducing us to specific places so that we can really get to grips with where we are whilst simultaneously learning more about the main characters.
Despite this being a fantasy novel there are plenty of sci-fi settings due to the characters travelling between worlds. Every world is imaginative and carefully crafted. I loved picturing the different landscapes. The history of each world and the influences behind each are really interesting. Very few of the worlds feel safe and that automatically adds a level of tension during exploration. The Echo Maze, which connects worlds together via gates, is a cool concept even if I struggled to picture it at times. There are endless possibilities of places to visit and it is a great setup for the start of a new series.
The magic system in The Unspoken Name is elegant and consistent. Magic has a physical cost on the caster. Powers come from the old gods and there is a lot of dark magic, including necromancy in the story.
Plot, Pace & Voice
To be completely honest when I first started the book I did not think I was going to like it. Something didn’t quite click straight away. However, it did not take me long to settle into the story and then I was completely hooked. There is a lot of action and the pace keeps picking up as the novel continues. Larkwood has a great instinct for knowing when you are settling into the story and throws in curve-balls just at the right moment. There are plenty of plot twists and you never know quite what the end-game will be until you are there.
I felt like I had read multiple books by the time I had finished The Unspoken Name because there is so much to the story! It is a very enjoyable read and just keeps getting better the further you get through the book.
The Unspoken Name is a very enjoyable and action packed fantasy novel. I love the sci-fi elements as well as the epic fantasy setup. Larkwood is clearly a very talented author, who has created a world that I can’t wait to delve back into. I am so glad that it is part of a trilogy! The world building is vast and has the perfect amount of detail. I loved the grim, dark and scary scenes just as much as the light-hearted moments and bits of romance. I especially love all of the LGBT+ representation in the novel. If you are a fantasy reader, particularly of epic fantasy, then I highly recommend you check out The Unspoken Name when it releases in 2020.
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