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The King's Swordsman #1

The Tenets in the Tattoos

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Breaking the tenets of Special Forces means one thing. Death.

Thorrn has his life mapped out – be the best swordsman in the king’s army and become Captain one day. What doesn’t fit in with his plans is some short, unimpressive waif claiming to be his soul companion, the platonic other half of his spirit.

But when the king demands that he hand Evyn over, Thorrn is confronted with a choice: protect Evyn and keep her secret from the magical community who would drain her for the power resonating inside her, or turn her over to save his career, family name, and reputation.

When a powerful mage moves against the kingdom, Thorrn and Evyn will have to summon all their courage and find allies from unexpected corners – including different worlds and times. For alongside the realms of Oberrot and Earth are the multiverses, and one of them should surely be able to help…

A swordsman, an apothecarist, a shy librarian (“I’m beginning to think being underestimated is kind of my superpower”), and a powerful mage. Only they can save the kingdom.

A page-turning new adventure awaits, from a fresh voice in fantasy. Contains twinned souls with a twist, enemies to inseparable friends, coming of age, learning to accept yourself and others, some epic swordfights, and a smattering of romance.

Kindle Edition

Published August 9, 2021

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About the author

Becky James

12 books195 followers
Becky has been writing stories since she first learned to put pen to paper. Creating and exploring new worlds is fun, and having them read by others is the best experience ever. Loves coffee, cross-stitch and finding new creative ways to use and abuse words. Constantly cold hands - must have a warm heart!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 84 reviews
Profile Image for Gee.
313 reviews37 followers
September 2, 2021
"Other people's choices are not my fault. It's how I react to those choices that matters."

In "The Tenets in the Tattoos", debut author Becky James weaves an epic tale of bravery, trust, and staying true to oneself. For skilled swordsman Thorrn, finding his soul is the ultimate life goal; he spends his days half working hard to be promoted, and half dreaming about the day he'll finaly find the one person who complements him like nobody else. But both aspirations crash and burn when he's introduced to Evyn, the daughter of the king's sould. Evyn is... Unexpected, in every sense of the word—and Thorrn can't believe that this weak girl is destined to be his soul. When a coup d'état leaves the kingdom without its rightful ruler, and the new monarch demands that he hand Evyn over, Thorrn finds himself making choices that will change his life, his preconceived ideas, and his heart forever. Together with a quiet apothecary by the name of Aubin, a stone mage called Tuniel, and Evyn herself, Thorrn will have to step up to stand for what he truly believes in.

"When something is broken, it can be reforged into something new. If you add new materials, it becomes stronger."

The one thing that stood out to me the most in this book was the writing. Every once in a while, you stumble upon a book that's narrated in a delicate yet firm and powerful way—"The Tenets In The Tattoos" happens to be one of those. Just like any other good Epic Fantasy book, it delivered a really easy-to-follow, addictive prose, which made it easy to get lost in the story.

There was also the very rich universe James has built, which involves both a fantastic medieval-like world with mages, swordsmen, and goddesses; and our own XXI century Earth. As the book is told from Thorrn's point of view, re-discovering our world through the eyes of someone who hasn't ever set foot in it was such a fun experience! Guessing what appliances, rooms, or objects he was talking about was quite a fun thing to do, and the way he tried to master human world-ing was endearing. Little things like Thorrn's confusion really helped me get immersed in the story! Another small detail I adored about this book was the way James made a distinction between one's soul, and one's inamorato/a (romantic partner). Considering that our Western culture has tended to consider that the one person who knows you and complements you best must necessarily be your romantic interest as well, seeing an author defy this idea was highly refreshing. Really looking forward to more literature in which romantic partners aren't the only ones who know you best, and have a special connection with you! (Queer-wise, this creates a really safe space to develop arospec characters who are nonetheless very close with someone, or even in QPRs; and my heart is HAPPY)

"Evyn is my soul. She's brave and loyal and clever. She saved my life. And she burnt my pizza."

In terms of character development, Evyn, Aubin, and Thorrn were an absolute delight. All three of them undergo long, realistic, and well-articulated personal journeys, revealing themselves to be far more complex and three-dimensional than they seemed at first. Discovering the many faces each of them has was amazing, and the excellent way in which James balanced showing their past with carving their future selves made me root for them so much! Aubin, for starters, is a very intelligent character who nonetheless doubts and gaslights himself constantly. Watching his story unfold, after he was initially seen by Thorrn as an unreliable traitor, was one of the best parts of reading this book. The same thing could be said about Evyn, who carries a far darker struggle with her than meets the eye; or Thorrn, who is only now starting to realise that his loyalty may be in the right place—with those he genuinely has faith in, rather than those he's commanded to serve. James has a gift for building multifaceted and realistic characters the reader can't help getting attached to, which makes me really excited to see what she'll come up with in future installments of the series!

One of the things I had to get used to is how this book has more than one climax. What might have been another author's main conflict is instead one of the several key plot points in "The Tenets in the Tattoos". While I personally enjoyed the way these characters had to grapple with more than one struggle or difficulty, once I got used to it, it may come across as a little shocking for other readers. Another thing I feel a little sad about is the way we didn't get to learn as much about the magic system, and how the world Thorrn comes from, are organised. Even though I appreciate how there wasn't any sort of info-dumping at any point, as my brain hates dealing with those, I would've liked to learn more in some way.

All in all, "The Tenets In in the Tattoos" was quite a delightful read to fill my beach afternoons with, and I'm really excited for future stories set in this same universe!

**
CWs: Abusive relationship (challenged), Anger issues, Anxiety, Attempted murder, Beating, Blood, Car accident (mild, non-lethal), Depression, Drowning (attempted, challenged), Emotional abuse, Graphic injuries, Guilt, Intrusive thoughts, Kidnapping, Manipulation, Physical abuse, Suicide (mentioned), Suicidal ideation (mentioned, challenged), Torture, Violence
Profile Image for Laura.
1,041 reviews13 followers
December 19, 2021
"When something is broken, it can be reforged into something new. If you add new materials, it becomes stronger."

Every once in a while, you stumble upon a book that you simply fall in love with.
This here was one of them for me.


The Tenets in the Tattoos is an absolutely delightful tale of courage and self-discovery of not one but several characters. And I loved each and every one of them.



Breaking the tenets of Special Forces means one thing. Death.

And this is exactly what Thorrn Shardsson might be forced to do to save his soul. Not that the accomplished swordsman would have ever dreamt of doing it, that is. Especially not for the plain girl who is supposed to be his heart's partner. Evyn 'was short, round and rumpled to his towering height and hard-won form'. To put it plain, Thorrn's nose is so high in the air you can't reach it even if you climb up a ladder, and he wants nothing to do with Evyn because she isn't the ideal soul he had imagined for his perfect match.

In case you were wondering about the 'soul' thing, it's not a bond of lovers or physical union. It's a bond of spirits, more like that of one spirit inhabiting two bodies, each the embodiment of the other. Perfect halves to a whole. And I found this notion wonderfully refreshing.

But we were talking about Thorrn and naturally, he behaves like an ass and drives Evyn away. The hurt he had caused her might be way too much to heal and our young idjit might need to do more than a lot of grovelling to even get a chance to win her back. But he is dead set on righting the wrong and here is where his journey really begins. Not only his adventures, but also his quest to find himself.

When a coup d'état brings a new monarch to the throne and Thorrn is ordered to hand Evyn over, to say he is reluctant to obey would be the understatement of the year.
Alongside Aubin, an apothecarist he is hard pressed to trust, Thorrn decides to commit the highest treason and disobey, going against the tenets he had sworn to serve, just to save his soul.

And this is how our cocky hero's adventures really begin, alongside Evyn, Aubin and his soul Tuniel. They set off to find a lost King, themselves and perhaps even a little love on the way.
I won't tell you more about the plot because I don't want to spoil, but if you decide to pick this up, be ready for a wild ride. An addictive enchanting adventure full of twists you won't see coming and jam packed with both action and feeling.

The setting is a vividly described medieval fantasy type of world with mages and cool powers, swordsmen, and goddesses on one side, and our 21st century Earth on the other. And one of the best parts about it is that you will get to experience Earth through the eyes of Thorrn. Trust me what I say that particular bit will have you not only grinning, but also literally cracking up. Some of his experiences are absolutely hilarious.

The plot is gripping, but it's a solid combination between a solid plot and a downright fabulous character development, as well as an absolutely beautiful narrative, that turns this debut into and addictive, practically unputdownable read.

The character development is the major strength of this novel. Because it all flows naturally, in such a way that the reader can not only follow but also identify and get invested.

My heart went out to Evyn, who's so much more than we see at first sight and carries such a weight on her shoulders! I swear I wanted to give her a big strong hug whenever she felt so empty and lost and trying so hard to be 'normal'.

And the same goes for Aubin. So quiet and gentle and self-sacrificing, and so much more than he lets anyone see.

Thorrn on the other hand… He is unforgettable. So much more than the irritating idjit from the first chapters. So wonderfully layered and complex. I don’t remember the last time a character made me react the way he did.
I often alternated between wanting to smack him and hug him. I shook my head at his cockiness while my heart broke a little at his pain. And I was often torn in between blaming him for his lack of brain-mouth filter and appreciating his honesty. A tough thing to do objectively while trying to keep a straight face. :D

And then there is the feeling and the way everything is experienced through the soul bond. Don’t even get me started on that because I’ll turn my review into a novella! But seriously people! This part is top notch!

Two souls laying themselves bare to each other. All the ugly stuff and the hard cold truth, the misery and doubt, the fears and sorrows, all of it as real as it gets. The way this author makes us not only see but also feel all of it…. Chef’s kiss for that!
'I might not believe in myself but I believe in you and you believe in me. So hopefully that will do.'

All in all, because I already held you too long, The Tenets in the Tattoos is an epic and absolutely fabulous tale of bravery and self-discovery, with a wonderful rich worldbuilding and an enchanting prose, starring great three-dimensional characters that leap from the page, with a solid plot full of twists you don’t see coming and complete with all the feels.

It’s a tale to fall in love with. One that will make you want to be a better person yourself.
This one’s a keeper people!
Give it a try!

Happy reading everyone
And remember

"Other people's choices are not my fault. It's how I react to those choices that matters."
Profile Image for Sophie's Reading Corner .
811 reviews329 followers
February 3, 2022
3.5 STARS

What I really loved about this book was that it combined both worlds and it was jumping between our real world and the fictional world with magic, kingdoms, etc. I loved how clueless the characters were when they were faced with the technology aspects of our world, it was definitely good for comic relief!

What didn't work for me, was the fact that even though at first I was really enjoying the book and how it was flowing, as some point I felt like we had too much information and too much going on and I got lost somewhere in the middle. And because of that I felt like I was lacking the interest and enjoyment I had at first. I was also confused about some characters and their true intentions/ feelings, but I suppose this is meant to be seen in the following books.

If you love books about soulmates, magic , alternative realities, then you could try this one!
Profile Image for Natalia.
62 reviews2 followers
July 8, 2021
"Now you have been broken. But when something Is broken, it can be reforged into something new"

Thank you to the author for providing me a e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

I loved the concept of this book and i found the worldbuilding fascinating. Soulmates, academy of magic, mundanes and magic users accords, parallel worlds. I enjoyed to know about the alternative versions of the characters and the differents outcomes. This book really has it all.
The characters are amazing, specially Evyn; she Is strong and determined and i really like it what the author did with her. She went through a lot and she Is definitely a character that left a mark on me.
Thorrn was an asshole at first but he has a lot of development. Also he Is funny af
Tuniel is my queen. She can throw a rock to my head and i would thank her for noticing me.
This Is a profound, touching,dark and yet funny reading. The role the tattoos played in here was clever and wholesome.
I enjoyed the distinction between soul companion (when your soul lives un two bodies. Individuals that complement each other) and inamorata (the person you are in love with)
This book Is full of complex characters, such as Aubin and Gavain and full of rich elements. So, if you can read only one book in August... Choose this one!
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,316 reviews215 followers
August 21, 2022
I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Tenets in the Tattoos has been on mind ever since I was approved to read this. At first, I was really excited to jump into this world. So, it's a little weird that it took me so long to find the time to read this. Maybe my excitement dimmed a little, but I was still going to jump into this book.

Now this book took my on a roller coaster kind of ride. Not with emotions or anything but the overall pace made me feel this way. At times, things were moving fast and exciting and then slow down before speeding back up. Unfortunately, the slow parts left me bored and a little disinterested in what was actually happening.

Then there's the overall characters. Eh, they were okay. I'll admit that I wasn't completely invested in them, and I think that's why it took me so long to get through this. The romance was okay but also confused me. The magic and realities were interesting to a point as well, but I have a lot of unanswered questions too.

In the end, I see that this series has two more books out and a fourth coming soon. So, if I want those questions answered I will need to find the time to jump into the sequel and everything else after.
Profile Image for Jennifer Prior.
125 reviews3 followers
August 10, 2021
The Tenets in the Tattoos follows, Thorrn, a member of special forces, in a high fantasy world. Thorrn is looking for his soul companion, and when he first meets her, he is not pleased. In time, they connect, and Thorrn finds out that Evyn, his soul companion is an Earthian, who can ping between the realms. This book follows them as they attempt to save each other, people they love, and the rulers of Thorrns realm.

I enjoyed this book. I loved the characters Evyn and Aubin. I appreciated that the characters were all flawed in their own ways. The magic elements of the book were fun. I look forward to the next book in the series.

I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Paula lily.
192 reviews13 followers
August 1, 2021
I received an eArc of this book and I'm leaving this review voluntarily.

I dnfed it at 67% might come back though, if I do I'll change my review.

When it comes to plots so rich as this book I honestly prefer to watch a movie as there is way to much for me to handle and my mind cannot just remember everything.

And not going to lie I was expecting tattoos to be more focused on this book because I love and have over 20 of them lol but anyway it is mentioned twice or thrice which was fine.

One thing that bothered me that one person could have a soul mate but also wife/husband. And I was like what? I'm more of a monogamous girl so this didn't sit with me. I'm not judging though, I'm just saying that it is not my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Cristen Jennette.
Author 6 books31 followers
January 1, 2022
I received an eArc from the author in exchange for my honest review.

I LOVED the first ten chapters of The Tenets in the Tattoos. There were moments which made me legit laugh out loud, and even a moment which made my jaw drop because I was not expecting it to happen. Most times, 'plot twists' are on my radar as I read, but Becky James whipped out a few surprises that made me eager to continue reading. Though the middle and ending were not, in my personal opinion, as strong as the opening chapters, they were still written well enough for me to enjoy. Book one does have a satisfying ending, so I'm curious what will happen in further installments and will more than likely read them when they become available.

Thorrn is our male lead, and the perspective through which we receive the story. He's strong-willed, a bit bull headed, but does express humility. I enjoyed reading from his point of view!

Evyn becomes Thorrn's 'soul companion'. Like him, she struggled with accepting him at first. I do wish we spent some time in her perspective as I found her backstory and motivations intriguing.

Aubin is an apothecarist. Overall, I liked his character. He was a steady presence and provided the right level of opposition to Thorrn's stubbornness.

I feel like I've learned the least about Tuniel in this first book. I'm intrigued by her abilities but am uncertain how I feel about her as a character.

All of the side characters seemed to have a place and a role in the plot.

It's evident Becky James did her due diligence in world building. There were times I struggled with dialogue exchanges, but I'll explain that further in the spoiler review. I'm also pleasantly surprised at the concentration on friendship as opposed to romantic relationships -- I appreciate the idea that men and women can be friends without any expectation of something 'more'. Granted, there are still hints of romance but friendship is definitely a strong theme!

I give The Tenets in the Tattoos a 3.75 out of 5 stars. I've rounded this up to 4 stars on Goodreads. Spoiler-filled review to follow. Granted, I'm not discussing all of the spoilery moments but am tagging the following since I go more in depth about the plot.

Profile Image for Haley.
306 reviews47 followers
August 13, 2021
I received this book as an eARC from Netgalley. All opinions are my own!

Thorrn is one of the best swordsmen in the kingdom, and that's really all he's ever wanted. Well, that - and his soul companion. But when his soul ends up being a girl from the fabled Earth, Thorrn finds himself thrown into a kind of chaos he'd never even dreamt existed.

I'd just like to start by saying that I absolutely loved this book! I was so surprised by how quickly I got attached to the characters. Even though they were dealing with a fantasy world, they were all so real and each of them struggled with different things that were so relatable and touching, things that drew me to them and made me root for them and their stories. And don't even get me started on how soft Thorrn is! I loved him as a main character and watching him grow into himself and his story. He had me giggling from his theatrics and I loved connecting with his story in this way.

This book dealt with some heavier topics in the form of what the characters were all dealing with, but it was also a feel-good story to me. Comedic relief always seemed to happen at just the right time, and I always found myself smiling just when I needed it. But it still had themes that made me think and made my heart wrench for the characters, and I thought it was balanced incredibly well.

I cannot wait to see where this series goes from here! I loved the world, the characters, and everything in between! If you like fantasy stories with a dash of comedy, this is the book for you!
July 19, 2021
This book was brilliantly written and I flew it through over a weekend. I haven’t read solely from the male perspective in a while and I was nervous I would have a hard time getting into it but boy was I wrong! This author is way too good at the chapter endings that make you want to “read just a little bit more.”
The 3 main characters, Thorrn (whose perspective the novel takes place), Evyn (the main female character), and Aubin are beautifully written. You really understand their strengths and insecurities, and despite being hurt they find a way to rise above. I’m really bad with info dumps (I hate reading them) and the author does a great job of weaving the world building through the plot and conversations. This story I truly believe is perfect for men and women who want an amazing adventure with tons of interesting and unique ideas. Romantic love is very little in this novel, but other kinds of love (like friendship) is strong. Her take on soul companions is so unique and like a breath of fresh air. There’s plenty of laugh out loud moments too. 100% highly recommend anyone looking for a good portal/high fantasy.
Profile Image for Emma.
130 reviews
July 21, 2021
This book follows Thorrn, who lives in a high-fantasy world where he is part of the royal guard/army. In this world, everyone is destined to meet their soul companion, and when he meets his, he is not happy with who she is! It turns out, however, that she is an Earthian who can travel between the two realms. This portal-fantasy story follows them as they attempt to deal with the threats against them and their developing relationship.

I really enjoyed reading from a male character’s perspective, as I feel like the majority of YA fantasy books I read are from a female point of view, so it felt very refreshing in that sense. At first, I thought Thorrn would be quite annoying because he had a lot of pre-conceived notions and ideas, but eventually he began to change his perspective and opinions. I really liked Evyn, his soul companion. She was very fierce and took no nonsense from him, which was great and often funny to read. They had a strong dynamic and I loved reading their interactions.

The plot was really fun, especially when Thorrn and Evyn were on Earth. There were some laugh out loud moments when Thorrn was encountering modern-day technologies for the first time! It was also great seeing how Evyn learnt more about Thorrn’s world, and how he helped her when she was in trouble. YA fantasy fans should definitely look out for it once it's published!
Profile Image for Greta Rase.
505 reviews
January 22, 2022
1,5
La verdad me decepcionó mucho. La idea en general es genial: tenemos este mundo tipo medieval donde la magia es real, una sociedad donde las almas se dividen en dos cuerpos y un enfoque en personajes que promete. Pero, tristemente hay un pero, la ejecución me parece mala. Basicamente la historia nos relata la vida de Thorrn quien aun no ha encontrado a su ‘soul companion’ y vive su vida de soldado fantaseando con encontrarla. Entonces cuando ella aparece la decepción lo embarga: no se parece en nada a sus sueños. sin embargo pronto se da cuenta de que su ‘soul companion’ es mas especial de lo que parece y repentinamente se ve forzado a protegerla de todo el mundo mientras, al mismo tiempo, intenta solucionar lo que parece ser una traición a la corona. Es triste que teniendo una gran idea (especialmente al unir parcialmente este mundo magico y medieval y un mundo como el nuestro) haya sufrido tanto. Pense que iba a adorar a los personajes, especialmente a Aubin pero para la mitad del libro sentí que eran muy planos, y el romance para nada creible. La verdad no lo recomiendo pero ya saben, esta es mi opinión y siempre puede ser diferente para ustedes.
Profile Image for Kobe.
213 reviews42 followers
September 8, 2021
4 stars.

I ended up really enjoying this book and getting through it pretty quickly! The concept of platonic soulmates was really interesting, and I liked seeing how it affected the characters and what actions they took. The characters were all really unique and their dynamic, especially on Earth, was good and certainly made for some comedic moments.

I do wish that the magic system had been developed more, because I absolutely loved the bits of the book focused on the mages. I felt like certain types of magic that I was intrigued to hear more about were hinted at but never properly introduced.

Overall, a highly enjoyable read that I'd recommend to anyone who loves fantasy, or to anyone who wants to see a twist on the soulmates trope!

Thank you to The Book Network for providing a copy of this book!
Profile Image for Mar.
1,650 reviews30 followers
August 17, 2021
3.5 stars

I really liked this book.
The world building was great.
The characters were all likable and complex and their relationship/development were good, albeit i wish there was more exploration with some characters but i think well see that in the next book.
My problem here was the plot, it was lacking in some ways. Like how our characters travel between the worlds and most importantly, the magical system.
overall this had a lot of potential but it felt short. Still I think i'll be reading the next book.

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the chance to read this book in exchange of a honest review*
Profile Image for Elena.
99 reviews3 followers
July 20, 2021
I was given an eArc in exchange for a review.

I'm not really sure how I felt about this book. There was just a lack of connection for me. Whether that was my lack of connection with the characters or the plot I'm not sure, but something just didn't work. The story was good, if a little convoluted at times. Overall it was an ok read, but I'm not sure I will be picking up the next in the series.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
464 reviews33 followers
August 9, 2021
Recommended: yes!
For a lengthy, epic tale that grows and grows and grows, for emotional messages and themes carried throughout the book, for humour and action and reflection all nicely balanced

Thoughts:
The first thing I think after finishing this book is that the blurb for it does not do it justice at all for how the story goes. The blurb sounds like there's a soldier struggling with the morality of an order, and an apothecary seeking immortality who decides to comit treason in a last-ditch effort to seek something better. What's very much missing from this is any mention of what a soul companion actually is or why it's significant, or the fact that his female soul companion is an integral part of this whole journey -- and yet not once is she mentioned! Awful blurb, but a pretty good book.

I was most surprised by two things in about equal measure: the careful attention to the growth of each character and their relationships, and the sheer complexity and length of the story. It's about 400 pages, which is on the longer side, but it felt like a complete epic story of Tolkien's style (minus the details in extreme). There is just SO MUCH to the story! From the start to the end, so much happens that it really sucked me in with the characters. I was invested and I cared a lot about each of them. And yet, the pace was never too fast or too slow. I was always interested and entertained. I learned about the characters, but that happened through action and conversation blended evenly.

Now, again: there's a whole other main character who isn't even mentioned in the blurb. Evyn is the Earthian soul companion who becomes a fulcrum of drama (partly because Thorrn is an idiot sometimes... But she is funny, and important, and unsure, and clever. I really adored the way I saw her and Thorrn balanced each other out and learn from each other. It was surprisingly realistic in some ways, for the way they interacted and fought and loved.

One other thing to mention is that it's refreshingly light on romantic love. It's there, and it plays a pivotal aspect, but it's not what I would call a romance element. Soul companions are not necessarily lovers, and I super appreciated that. At first I was like, oh what so everyone is hetero and soul companions are all female/male? They do mention a male/male pair at one point, and the whole way through it's very clear that soul companions are intimately bonded, but not intimately *ahem* involved.

Overall, this book was HELLA good as a fantasy adventure with royalty and magic elements. And it made me laugh and smile a lot, which is always fantastic. I am definitely going to continue this series, and also I am baffled and low-key outraged that this book hasn't gotten more attention! Consider this my effort to help resolve that!

Thanks to Becky James and Booksirens for a free advanced copy. This is my honest review!
Profile Image for Sarah.
212 reviews21 followers
August 17, 2021
This was such an exciting and easy read. I have been looking for the soulmate trope for a while now and I am really happy to have found this book!
203 reviews
March 22, 2023
Her name is Evyn. She is from Earth and has grown up there. Now, with her mother, the king’s soul companion, they have ported over to Oberrot. Evyn was shown around and then introduced to Thorrn. The meeting was supposed to be climatic, but it was anticlimactic. Something was supposed to happen between the two. Not romantic, but like brother and sister, like twins and friends forever type of thing. But Thorrn had his preconceptions, and the girl, much smaller than expected, shattered his expectations, and he rebelled, even thinking, “She looked to be well-fed rather than well-bred.” He soon excused himself and skipped the feast held in her honor, preferring to eat in the mess hall that evening. In the days to follow, Thorrn denied her to himself. He treated her like she was less than nothing. He denied that she was his soul companion to his friends, and one day being accused of being bonded to her again, he denied her loudly in public with her standing right there. Then there was pain and then unconsciousness. After that, he no longer denied her as his soul companion, but she had run away. This is when he learned of where she had come from. Evyn was from Earth. She was an Earthian. It is said that they are resistant to magic, and the soul bond would confer that resistance to him, but their blood would confer power to a magic user. Now he not only had to grovel to get her back, but he had to protect her secret.

While vague in some places, the world-building was quite enough and well done in some areas where you could almost feel the surface and see the whole. The character interaction was well done, and the character’s background filled in as needed as the story went along. Some of the reveals had me, and some of the interactions just had me applauding the author for putting in that twist or part of the character’s personality.

This fanciful, fantastic fable has plenty of action and adventure. Give it a read if you like. I give it five stars out of five stars.
10 reviews2 followers
August 9, 2021
The Tenets in the Tattoos Review
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
(Can I give this 10 stars? Is that a thing?)

I'm pretty sure I'm Becky's biggest fan - I have the ARC, paperback, AND ebook of Tenets, and as her biggest fan, I want to know: can we get a book about alt-Thorrn?! You know he's my favorite.

YA Portal Fantasy wasn't a genre I thought I would ever enjoy, but I've changed my mind.

Tenets is told from the POV of Thorrn, my bae, an assholey young solider from Oberrot who has yet to meet his Soul.

At first, I was like oh, this is another fated mates thing, yeah? But YES and NO. Souls are the ultimate BFFs. They bring out the best qualities in one another, and Thorrn's just happens to be my spirit animal, Evyn, a girl from Earth. She's his polar opposite in a lot of ways, but somehow, some way, they end up working as the best team because *ahem* they do stuff and things that I cannot say lest I spoil the plot.

I absolutely love the characters of this book. From Thorrn to Evyn to Aubin and even Tuniel, their personalities are all unique. The story is interesting, grabbing attention from the first few pages onward. I thought I was going to hate Thorrn the first time I read him, but by the end, I had solidified my love for him. Just don't tell my SO I have my eyes set on a fictional character as my second husband, please. The relationship between Thorrn and Aubin makes me feel all kinds of ways, and for the record, we're sure they aren't the real souls at the end of it, right?

For fans of YA fantasy, you seriously should grab this book.
Profile Image for Eilis Fox.
21 reviews2 followers
September 21, 2021
I’ve tried to write this review a bunch of times but can’t seem to do justice to exactly how much I loved it. I actually found myself rushing through daily tasks to get back to reading ASAP which hasn’t happened with a book in a long, long time! There’s no one thing that I can put my finger on that made it a five star read for me. Unique take on soulmates, parallel realms, alternate realities, magic, incredible characters & world building… uhm a big yes please to all!

Thorrn and Evyn were such interesting characters & watching their relationship blossom was fantastic. It was so refreshing to read a story in this genre that was quite light on romance & focussed more on friendship. I also adored the scenes of Thorrn as a fish out of water on Earth! Aubin’s character development was brilliant too. The dreamscape scenes were fascinating to read & don’t get me started on the world building!

All in all, a solid 5 stars for me. Can’t wait for the next instalment!! 🤩

A huge thank you to Becky & The Book Network for the advanced copy. This review is voluntary & all opinions are my own.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jamie Edmundson.
Author 19 books211 followers
June 5, 2022
I must admit, I found it hard to get into the first few chapters. First, military swordsman Thorrn is the main character, written in first person, and he’s irritating. I understood what the author was doing-this is a guy going on a personal journey, but still-annoying. Second, a key concept - the soul mate, which everyone magically has, and has ‘found’ – except for Thorrn - was so in my face right from the beginning that I struggled.
I think when I realised that the soul mate is a platonic relationship rather than romantic love I settled in and began to appreciate the other elements of the story. It’s written well and has unique worldbuilding. It has a fun portal element to it which introduces lots of humour. There is friendship, romance, but not too much to overwhelm me, and there’s plenty of sword fighting to make up for it LOL.
Recommended for those looking for a sweet ya style read, with secondary world to earth (UK in this case) portal shenanigans.
2 reviews
October 31, 2021
Such a unique and refreshing sword & sorcery, which it has plenty of both, but also throws in some multiverse (almost science-fictiony) element. Not gonna lie, it threw me for a second, but I know this was a planned series and it was obvious the author was laying the groundwork for something bigger with them. I love Evyn, and I laughed out loud a lot (which is hard to get me to do). If you’re looking for something a little different, this is for you. I think it’s a novel men or women could enjoy from 12 years old to 70 years old. It wasn’t easy to pinpoint what would happen next, which kept me intrigued from start to finish. I recommend to anyone who wants some classic fantasy but with a twist.
246 reviews3 followers
August 10, 2021
What a rollercoaster ride! Never a dull moment in this epic adventure which combines the reality of modern day Britain with a fantasy realm. Evyn and her mother can step through at will, where she meets Thorrn and Aubin. A complex and unusual storyline which had me riveted though it became a little difficult to follow in places, such as when characters from an alternate universe appear. This author certainly has a vivid imagination!

Readers need to be aware it’s written in British English and describes many behaviours and places which are typically British (no guns!)

I really look forward to reading the next book
Profile Image for Jamie Pitman.
95 reviews
October 14, 2021
Loved this book. It was one for me when I started reading at first thought oh no I don't think this is for me, but give it a chance. So glad I gave it a chance, it took a couple of chapters to world build, then I loved it. I just struggled to read as I can only read in snippets at the moment with working night shift so its read in small bursts when I go to bed before night shift. No spoilers from me about the book but looking forward for the next 2 books in this series as its supposed to be a trilogy.

P.s I was given a ebook copy through thebooknetwork.co.uk on a ebook giveaway competition and was given it to review once I had finished reading
Profile Image for Motherbooker.
379 reviews7 followers
August 8, 2021
Review: 3.5 stars

(Note: I was given an eARC of the book in exchange for a review)

I'm not someone who believes in the idea of soul mates, so I was quite sceptical when it became apparent that they were going to be a big part of this book. However, Becky James has managed to include the idea with a bit of a twist. Instead of two souls coming together in an act of romantic love, the bond is actually platonic. It takes inspiration from an aspect of Greek mythology that suggests humans were split apart and spend their lives searching for their other halves. That's the idea in the world we are introduced to. Everyone is waiting to find their soul: the person who bonds to them and makes them whole. This isn't the person that they end up marrying and starting a family with. Instead, it just forms an unbreakable bond that provides comfort, affection and strength.

It's a big moment in a person's life and Thornn, our narrator, has been desperately waiting to find his soul. As a member of the King's Guard, Thornn needs to find his soul to be fully initiated into the ranks. It's hoped that Thornn will bond with the daughter of the King's own soul, Rose. He has dreamed of meeting her for ages but, when the moment finally arrives, the young man is underwhelmed with Evyn. She just doesn't fit his idea of what his soul should be. In fact, she doesn't seem to fit into this world at all. It turns out Rose and Evyn are actually humans with the ability to pop between Earth and Thornn's world. A very dangerous thing to do considering how rare and powerful human blood is. When a usurper takes the throne, Thornn must choose between his loyalties as a soldier or his loyalty to his new soul companion.

I think it's fair to say that the most important part of a successful fantasy series is world-building. How is the world-building in The Tenets in the Tattoos? Well, the fact that I finished it a few hours ago and I can't remember the name of the world should be some indication. It's not that the society that James has created isn't interesting. It's just that there is no time to ever get to know it. This is a fast-paced novel that tries to cram in so many things at once. It all gets caught up within itself. The things we do find out only raise further questions. We know that the people of Thornn's world know about humans but we don't know how they know. We don't know the history of this world. We also don't get a good grip of the geography itself. I just wish that I'd come out this knowing more about the world I'd been inhabiting.

Of course, it might not be such a bad thing if the story was super gripping but it takes a long time to get going. So much time is spent setting up the story. It means that all of the dramatic bits are kind of rushed and the final showdown is a bit of a "blink and you'll miss it kind" of affair. The relationships are also pretty rushed. Thornn and Evyn have some difficulties at the start, but it all seems to become okay again after a few pages. Even though they don't have great chemistry. That's why Thornn has to keep repeating how close he feels to his soul. This is tell don't show kind of relationship. And don't even get me started on the romance here. It just seems to come from nowhere and I was not a fan of it.

Still, there are some fun ideas and I think the main trio have some fun moments together. As you often find with these types of books, the most interesting characters aren't the protagonist but the people they work with. I'd have loved to have got some chapters from a different point of view. I think both Aubin and Tuniel deserved more attention. And maybe it's just my age but I'd have loved to spend more time with the adult characters. Even so, there is a lot to enjoy about this and James does raise some good points. There is plenty about grief and self-acceptance. It discusses themes of mental health which sees the soul bond really come into play. I loved the message about sharing your struggles and lightening the load. There is also some decent character development here. The characters have flaws and learn from their mistakes. All in all, there is some very positive message here. So, it's a shame that it ends up feeling a tad messy.

It's not that any of the ideas in this novel are bad but that there are just too many of them. There are just one too many ideas stuffed into a story that should have been spent longer setting the scene. Characters are introduced with barely any information. Then there's the fact that so much time is spent in the human world. It's mainly done for a few moments of forced comedy about "car beasts" and televisions. All of the humour that is forced out of the fish out of water set up is stuff we've seen done countless times before and done better. I would have much preferred to save the Earth stuff for a future novel and spent more time getting to grips with the fantasy world. I also think the big reveals were too obviously signposted to make them very effective. There was very little unexpected here. But, if you're a fan of YA high concept fantasy, this will definitely be your street.
Profile Image for Michelle.
213 reviews41 followers
August 3, 2021
Thorrn has waited his whole life for his soul, but when they meet, he rejects her, disappointed that she is nothing like the fantasy he built in his head. When he finally learns to accept Evyn for who she is, her life is threatened since she possesses Earthian blood. To what extent will Thorrn go to protect her? 

The Tenets in the Tattoos by Becky James is a fascinating book with a unique storyline. The blend of sword-fighting, royalty, and magic of the fictional realm of Oberrot along with the modern technology and lifestyle of Earth made this an interesting read. I liked the idea behind each person having a soulmate, but in this case, they were companions or friends, not lovers. This is the first time I've come across such a concept. 

The characters are well-written with distinct personalities. Thorrn did annoy me in the beginning with his harsh treatment of Evyn, but I warmed up to him eventually. I felt bad for Evyn for the way she is treated, but I also admire her ability to see past all that and be true to herself. My favourite would be Aubin. This is one character I loved throughout the book. 

The book had a lot of action, humour, and emotions. I specifically enjoyed reading about Thorrn struggling with modern gadgets. The interactions between the characters seemed natural. I found myself laughing and at times having tears in my eyes while reading the book. The author has done a wonderful job capturing the characters' emotions.

While the book was great, I struggled with parts that had the characters' alternate personalities. It became confusing and information-heavy for me. I found it difficult to keep up with who was doing what at a given time. I also felt that dividing the book into two parts would have been better, as the second half came across as a different book to me, more like a sequel.

Despite that, I loved the book. The ending was amazing with many characters finding love and acceptance. I'm relieved that it did not end on a cliffhanger. I would recommend this book to all fantasy lovers. 
Profile Image for Emma Peadon.
8 reviews
August 6, 2021
Thank you to The Book Network for giving me an E-ARC copy in an exchange for an honest review.

⭐️⭐️| DNF @ 38%

I really liked the idea behind this book - the idea of souls really intrigued me and I liked the jumping between worlds.

I felt like the world building could be stronger. In the first few chapters I was really confused & didn’t understand that Thorrn’s world was a different realm/world - different coloured grass wasn’t enough. It wasn’t until earth was mentioned that the penny really dropped. I wish we’d spent more time in Thorrn’s world, especially in the first few chapters as we didn’t get attached enough to his world to really care when shit went down. I also felt we spend too much time on earth for a fantasy book - the parts with Evyn explaining how to make a pizza & board a train to Thorrn & Aubin was not particularly enjoyable.

I didn’t feel like I really warmed to any of the characters - it was particularly hard to like Thorrn in the first few chapters, although I did warm up to him as the novel went on. I also didn’t like the fact that souls were never romantic connections - it felt a tad messy & confusing that the connection between souls were so strong & personal but then people also got married to people other then their souls. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Overall it was an interesting read, but the world building & characters weren’t strong enough to grab me.
Profile Image for Merrit Townsend (always1morebook) .
450 reviews18 followers
August 9, 2021
I received an eARC of this book for free. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are my own.

This book was a different kind of read for me. This book takes place is separate worlds with Alt-Characters. By this I mean that there are the same characters but live in alternate times. The world building that the author did was crazy good. I could not have written this story as well as she did. The characters were well written and all had different personalities which i enjoyed. The end of the book answered all of the lingering questions that I had throughout reading and I appreciate a well rounded ending.

I did have a few issues while reading. I had a hard time connecting with the main characters. I also was confused at times with the amount of characters in the book. I did have to read over several chapters to figure out which character was being portrayed within that chapter. Overall the book received 4 stars from me. Thank you to Becky James and Hidden Hollow book tours for the Arc.
Profile Image for Angharad.
4 reviews
December 8, 2021
I have to say I've never read or not read a book based on a review as I've always believed it's down to personal choice. Therefore I've never thought in the past about leaving a review for a book either. But in this case, I'll make an exception!

It's more than a review, it's showing support and admiration for the author who has put their life and soul into their world, characters and stories. And boy is this a good one!!!

Magic, other worlds, portals, family, friendship and soul companions...not to mention some good old fashioned fighting; what's not to love? When you are in love with the characters, as I am, you know you're onto a winner. They are funny, strong, loyal and full of emotion. Thorrn (a special forces soldier) and Aubin ( an apothecarist) are two of my favourite characters and when they are on a roll can be hysterical. Lots of laugh out loud moments with these guys. Thorrn does initially come across as an arrogant soldier in the beginning but trust me, stick with him and you'll soon love him!

The story gives us the idea of soul companions which I love (have not come across this before, not in a non-romantic way anyway) but that there are two parts to a soul and everyone bonds with that someone that completes them which I think is a beautiful notion. Like two sides of the same coin. But how important are first impressions? This is what Thorrn has to explore when he finally meets his soul companion Evyn, a lovely, gentle soul but nowhere near what Thorrn expected! And she gives as good as she gets! Here the story develops and comes together as circumstances lead them on an epic adventure across worlds and joining forces with the must unlikely of people.

Of course, every fantasy needs a baddie and a mission and there are plenty of action-packed chapters in this first book to deliver this that leaves you wanting more.

I could go on but no spoilers here, get the book and find out for yourselves, you won't be disappointed!

Can't wait to get stuck into the second book now and see what happens next!
Profile Image for soph.
349 reviews36 followers
August 11, 2021
When my first thought after finishing a book is that I am glad it's over, this is not a good sign. I wanted to read this book because the concept of soul companion interested me, along with a team up between a swordman and an apothecarist. Sadly this was not what I though it would be. Thorrn, our protagonist, is extremely arrogant and I disliked him very much. Yes he has character development and changed but I still did not like him. At one point he did a complete 180°, almost just like that.

The pacing was kinda weird too, it was either nothing much happened and everything was slow, or everything was happening at the same time.

Some of the world is intriguing though, with the possibility by people to create portals to travel from Thorrn's world to Earth (and other realities). Seeing Earth through the eyes of Thorrn was kinda funny.

I'm giving this book 2.5 stars (mostly for Evyn which is an amazing character).
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