I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood
Published by Tor Publishing on February 11, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic, Action & Adventure
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A. K. Larkwood's The Unspoken Name is a stunning debut fantasy about a young priestess sentenced to die, who at the last minute escapes her fate; only to become an assassin for the wizard who saved her.
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.
“In the vein of Le Guin's magnificent Tombs of Atuan—if Arha the Eaten One got to grow up to be a swordswoman mercenary in thrall to her dubious wizard mentor. I love this book so much."—Arkady Martine, author of A Memory Called Empire
"I cannot recommend it enough." -- Tamsyn Muir, author of Gideon the Ninth
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
The Unspoken Name
Didn’t they teach you how to steal a ship at wizarding school?
A.K. Larkwood has created an ethereal vision of female badassery that I had completely laced up my feminist ass kicking boots by the end of chapter one. The formula that the author concocted in order to produce the masterpiece that my eyes and brain conversely lapped up was unique and special. She knew the compounds that go into writing a fantasy – they work, but the author decided to tear that rule book up and rewrite them completely! She drew me in with her hypnotic narrative and the familiar territory that I have become used to suddenly turned into a snake infested pit…but I was loving it!
The Unspoken Name was literally an experience. The author held me captive and threw me into the boot of her car and wouldn’t let go until the end. It was magnetism and I just couldn’t let go.
If you want a fresh take on fantasy, then The Unspoken Name should be right at the top of your TBR. Go in with no inhibitions, no preconceived ideas, forget genres, forget the rules. It will bend the confines of sub genres, it will blend societal themes and leave you feeling empowered and wrought with emotions. This book will blow your mind.
My immediate thought process after closing that last page was YES YES YES. It hit every button and I knew I would sell my soul to the devil himself to get book two. I need it right now, I NEED it. This is certainly a series that would translate well to a Netflix series and would rock my socks.
Page one set the tone imperceptibly. The protagonist, Csorwe, examines the predominate theme in the novel, that of choice. Life is one big choice, whether that is a deemed choice or a given one based upon expectations and a road that needs to be walked. When we meet her, she is very unremarkable, but she has a fate…she must die. A sacrifice to the gods. She must become a dead bride effectively. She has lived her entire life to get to this point. Her choices have been limited and not out with her remit of the cult she has been brought up in. what should happen if she was faced with a real choice? A choice that will change everything.
A.K Larkwood has evolved a narrative that takes the entire spectrum of colours and invents a universe that is a sparking ball of frenetic energy. It’s a close parallel to our own reality and it’s so vivid that it has taken on a life of its own.
If your only choice is death where do you go? When Csorwe is approached by the extremely charismatic wizard, Sethannai he bestows upon her a pretty obvious choice in my book, serve me and live or accept your fate and die. Well if I had been Csorwe I would have been crashing into him like the cool aid guy. I would have snapped his hand off. Sethannai has serious plans for Csorwe. He needs her in order to take back his kingdom of Tiaanthothe. The journey of her training and tribulations along the way made my giddy little heart happy. Watching her strength and confidence grow was everything I love in a protagonist. My brain felt numb from the onslaught of action and each chapter blended into the next. The words on each page felt like they became embedded in my brain, it became a part of me. I forgot I was reading, and this felt more like VR. It was a completely immersive experience.
The Unspoken Name is a beguiling and dark tale with mind blowing narrative that makes you forget your own name. it explores the darkest of emotions and translates into a magical joyride.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A. K. Larkwood studied English at St John’s College, Cambridge. Since then, she has worked in higher education & media relations, and is now studying law. She lives in Oxford, England, with her wife and a cat. Her debut novel, The Unspoken Name, will be published by Tor in 2020.
(Also, my favourite things to write about are:
- loyalty ‘n’ betrayal
- human sacrifice
- immortals behaving badly
- fraught banquets where someone gets murdered
- fantasy archaeology
- people bleeding a single aesthetic drop of blood as they die in the snow
… but in real life my main excitement day-to-day is when I get to cook a new kind of lentil.)