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576 pages, Hardcover
First published May 4, 2021
“No mortal alive had ever seen a Spindle. Echoes of them lingered, in places remembered or forgotten, in people touched by magic, in creatures descendant of other realms. But no Spindle had burned in an age. The last of them was a thousand years gone. The passages closed, the gates locked. The age of crossing ended. Allward was a realm alone.”
“We don’t choose what we’re born to, Corayne,” Erida replied. She touched the crown on her brow. “We can only walk the path put in front of us.”
“You will destroy the Ward for a crown!”
“A king of ashes is still a king,” Taristan crowed.”
“Sorrow is a mortal endeavor. I have no use for it.”
“Sorrow touches us all, Lord Domacridhan, whether we believe in it or not. It doesn’t matter what you call the thing ripping you apart. It will still devour you if given the chance.”
“And how do I defend against such a thing, Squire?” the Elder demanded, his voice rising. “How do I fight what I cannot face?”
Without thinking, Andry raised his own fingers, palm open, an offer as much as a plea. “With me,” he said. “Together.”
“Mortals are hot-blooded, quick to anger, quick to fight,” he said. “It has been your flaw these centuries past. Perhaps it will be your salvation too.”
“In the foothills of the great mountains of Allward, surrounded by heroes and immortals, Andry certainly felt the gods around him. Who else could have set a squire on such a path, the son of a foreign noblewoman and a low knight? Heir to no castles, blood to no king.”
“Fear is a well-honed instinct, useful as any steel edge,” she said. “It’s kept me alive more times than I care to count. So let that fear in, let it fill you up, let it whisper and guide. But do not let it rule.”
Corayne shakily nodded her head. “I won’t let it rule.”
The assassin looked satisfied. “There are no greater teachers than fear and pain.”
“Your blood is born of the Spindles, of distant realms and lost stars. You want the horizon, Corayne of Old Cor. You want it in your bones.”
“Erida stood without her throne, without a crown, without any of the trappings of the ruler she was born to be. And, somehow, she’d never felt more like a king.”
“An immortal Veder, a Jydi witch, a copper-eyed assassin, a royal squire, a criminal fugitive, and the pirate’s daughter, the Ward’s hope. What a mess we are.”
“Her fingers brushed the scars on his face, her touch fleeting and featherlight. His white skin felt hot as flame. “There are breakers of castles, breakers of chains, breakers of kings and kingdoms,” she said, her voice iron.
“Which am I?”
Power surged through her veins, delicious and seductive. She wanted more; she needed more. “You are a realm breaker, Taristan. You would crack this world apart and build an empire from its ruins.”
“Take your sword and bleed for me, and I will bleed for you. Win us the crown our ancestors could only dream of.”
- medieval kingdom vibes but with pirates! and monsters!honestly, this reminded me a lot of ‘there will come a darkness,’ just with how each of the characters play a part for a greater purpose. and although there are so many of them, i wouldnt necessarily say this story is character driven. its definitely propelled by the plot - so much happens! but the characters do have depth to them (even the ones introduced towards the end), which i appreciated.
- a large cast of characters with my favourites being a soft boi, a morally grey queen, and that one stoic duty-bound character who is adorable when teased.
- great fantasy tropes like a group of strangers on a mission to save the word, old magic bloodlines, an immortal race advising humans, and unexpected fate.
“If you don’t belong to a place, perhaps we belong to each other? We who belong nowhere?”
“Hammer and nail, the Companions are now seven, wind and gail, bound for hell or bound for heaven.”
“Even when it isn’t the end of the world, the realm is a dangerous place for women,” Sorasa added, gesturing between herself and the bounty hunter.
Sigil grinned broadly. “And so we became dangerous.”
“Care to dance with us?” Sorasa extended a hand, gesturing like a partner at a ball. “We who belong nowhere?”
“There are no greater teachers than fear and pain.”
So far to climb, but I cannot look up, or look back.
“There are breakers of castles, breakers of chains, breakers of kings and kingdoms,” she said, her voice iron.
“Which am I?”
Power surged through her veins, delicious and seductive. “You are a realm breaker. You would crack this world apart and build an empire from its ruins.”
An alliance bought is still an alliance made.
“The Lion should take you as its sigil. You’re twice as fierce, and twice as hungry.”
Only men can speak all day long and still think themselves silent.
“Whatever you decide, possible death or certain death, be quick about it.”
“Sorrow is a mortal endeavor. I have no use for it.”
Corayne inhaled deeply, taking one last gasp of her mother. “How fare the winds?” she whispered into her coat.
Her mother breathed the smallest sigh. “Fine, for they carry me home.”
“[The bargain] will be upheld.”
“Unless you die,” Sorasa said airily, pulling hard on the door.
“Gods willing, if it means never seeing you again,” Dom muttered.
“A marriage is a promise, and we promised each other the world entire.”
Gods forgive me.
Gods protect us.
The central plot of this book is saving the world from the bad guy Taristan who is trying to open doors (in a way) to other dimensional places. Where there are usually monsters. Then, he can rule the world -he’s backed up by the evil god “What Waits” (very original). I won’t go much in the blurb but that’s the jest of it. And oh, Corayne’s blood and a special sword are needed to close them.
First, the structure of the book wasn’t as good as it can be in my opinion. This book had too many pages and too long chapters. Yes, the world isn’t simple but that’s no excuse. I was extremely bored reading it. Having six points of view certainly didn’t help either. Ridha’s chapters were also not needed, imo the story could’ve been told from Corayne, Domacridhan, and Erida’s perspectives. The prologue should be Andry’s and the epilogue is Ridha’s last chapter. I really hate it when authors add more points of view than it’s needed and it certainly wasn’t useful here. It only prolonged the book and did nothing to develop the characters.
Something that annoyed me was the lack of a map. I really hope my ebook had some error… this is a journey. They go from a place to another. A map is always needed in my opinion in these cases. I’m sure Aveyard can afford to hire an illustrator to draw a map. I have no idea where they were going except from x to z but not of the “grander” road.
update: apparently, the hardback does have a map actually, not sure about the paperbacks. Now I wonder how many maps I've missed since I read ebooks mostly. I wish it was included in the ebook as well.
Before I move on to the characters, I need to mention how the slow-paced slowly killed me. I had no interest in reading this book and it was more like a chore than something to enjoy. I ended up wasting my precious little time this month because I simply wasn’t in the mood for this book. The plot nor the characters could hold my interest even though this is usually my cup of tea. I really love a team from different going to save the world and the setting was interesting. And since the plot wasn’t compelling, it’s usually upon the characters to make the book worthwhile. Unfortunately, they made it worse.
The characters were, like others already mentioned, bland. I honestly can’t think of a better word to describe them. They weren’t bad, they weren’t annoying, they were just there. Dull. Uninteresting. One-dimensional.
Corayne, the main lead, had no personality. She wants to discover ok but that’s about it. I didn’t hate her, she didn't annoy me, the poor girl didn’t do anything wrong but then again she barely did anything. My suggestion for her to be one of the primary perspectives is maybe then she could’ve had more character development and charisma. As for Andry.. again, he’s nice but that’s about it. I have nothing to say about him. Just bland.
Domarcidhan who is supposed to be this terrifying strong immortal acted stupid and was simply said, mediocre. It’s not that I disliked him, he was just meh. Now, Sorasa, I didn’t like yes. She was so hard trying to be badass and mysterious.. made me roll my eyes. I usually love assassins but I was underwhelmed by her arc. We were told to think she’s tough and all and probably she is but her character was more show than tell to me.
Erida was better because she’s an antagonist and we read from her perspective; I didn’t love her but I also didn’t struggle reading her parts.
As you can see, there is not much to say about the characters over than their lack of personality. It’s been a while that I read such boring characters, usually, we at least have 1 pov, not 6… I did not care about their journey at all and found it difficult to concentrate. Kept hoping it gets better… it didn’t.
On a more positive note, I highly appreciated the lack of romance, it wasn’t needed and it wasn’t there! There were some hints but that’s about it.
One last thing I want to mention is that there was a big inconsistency/loophole in this book. Please let me know if I missed anything because I frankly wasn’t invested in the story hence wasn’t fully concentrating on it.
I wasn’t a fan of Red Queen but wanted to give this book a shot. It promised an “epic” story and there’s nothing epic about it other than the idea behind it. It terribly failed to deliver a YA fantasy that can hold its own among a very competitive genre nowadays. Needless to say, I will not be continuing with this series. I might still give Aveyard a third chance but we shall see about that. I also don’t expect this book to be a hit like Red Queen but you never know nowadays.
An immortal Veder, a Jydi witch, a copper-eyed assassin, a royal squire, a criminal fugitive, and the pirate’s daughter, the Ward’s hope.
“You are a realm breaker, Taristan. You would crack this world apart and build an empire from its ruins.”
“Today, we fight for tomorrow.”
“So the realm stands on the brink of destruction. It might have tipped already. And for some reason, you need me to join this . . .” He glanced down their line. This time his scrutiny felt like an insult. “Merry band of heroes?”
“A king of ashes is still a king.”
Seven against two hundred soldiers of Galland, a Spindle at their backs. Impossible, but then so was everything else up to this moment. We’ve overcome impossible before, Corayne told herself, trying to believe it, trying to be brave. For her mother somewhere, for her father dead. For her friends around her, and the realm threatening to collapse on them all.