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The Unspoken Name

(The Serpent Gates #1)

4.63  ·  Rating details ·  49 ratings  ·  43 reviews
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
Hardcover, 464 pages
Expected publication: February 11th 2020 by Tor Books
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  • The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood
    The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates, #1)
    Release date: Feb 11, 2020
    Enter for one last chance to win A. K. Larkwood's THE UNSPOKEN NAME, a stunning debut fantasy about an orc priestess turned wizard's assassin.

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    Format: Print book

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    Availability: 50 copies available, 26 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Dec 07 - Dec 22, 2019

    Countries available: U.S.

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    Community Reviews

    Showing 1-30
    Average rating 4.63  · 
    Rating details
     ·  49 ratings  ·  43 reviews

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    Start your review of The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates, #1)
    Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Recommended to Petrik by: Nicholas Eames
    ARC provided by the publisher—Tor UK—in exchange for an honest review.

    4.5/5 stars

    The Unspoken Name is a terrifically-written debut that merged science fiction, space-opera, and high fantasy into one inventive book that’s incredibly suitable for SFF enthusiast.

    One look into the striking cover art by Billelis, and I already wanted to speak about this book. My urge to read this book increased when both Nicholas Eames—the author behind The Band series— and Dyrk Ashton—the author behind Paternus
    Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: queer, owned
    me, screaming: I will go down with this friend ship

    Where has this queer high fantasy book been all my life? Kai is shooketh.

    I wish I knew where to start. There are so many aspects of this book that filled me with pure joy: frenemies, world building, characters, twists, diversity. No hard feelings!!! Ugh.

    I'm going to start with the one thing that could have been improved: the pacing. Overall, this is a finely plotted story. It spans over 8 to 9 years and I think it wouldn't have hurt to stretch
    Chelsea Humphrey
    Nov 12, 2019 marked it as to-read
    Recommended to Chelsea by: Petrik
    Hi, me here, just dying over this cover and the general amount of strong female vibes I'm picking up from the synopsis.


    *Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy via NetGalley.
    Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    A. K. Larkwood’s The Unspoken Name is among the most creative, exciting, and brilliantly-told epic fantasy novels I’ve read. It is an immersive experience that grabbed my attention early on, then grew at a staggering rate until I found myself being launched through fantastic worlds, meeting wonderful characters, and caught in a magnetic prose that left me spellbound. Larkwood has a tremendous talent for building upon the best parts of what makes fantasy great and elevates it all with her own ...more
    Mel (Epic Reading)
    Nov 12, 2019 marked it as to-read
    Shelves: arc-netgalley
    Sooo excited!! This one sounds great! I’m a sucker for sacrificial folks becoming badasses. This is my main hope for this book.
    Advance thanks to TOR and NetGalley for my ARC.
    Reading and review post closer to release date.
    Dyrk Ashton
    May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    First, I want to thank Tor for giving me a super-early sneak peek at this. I'm totally honored (and baffled) to be thought of as cool enough to be afforded such a privileged.

    And even better, The Unspoken Name is a truly wonderful book. It grabbed my attention on the first page and wouldn’t let go. To me, it’s got the classic feel of the best of Le Guin, while also being progressively fresh, exciting and new, with story and sensibilities akin to something like R.J. Barker's Age of Assassins
    Jul 22, 2019 marked it as anticipated-2020
    Shelves: ff-romance
    Everybody say Thank You Tor for bringing us the f/f fantasies we deserve
    K.S. Marsden
    Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: netgalley
    Csorwe never doubts her duty as a sacrificial lamb, until a mysterious stranger offers the chance at life. Csorwe will become a loyal warrior and spy, until an encounter with an unusual woman makes her question what she really wants.

    I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

    Csorwe (pronounced like 'doorway') is a young orc priestess, and she has been chosen to serve as the Unspoken One's vessel and will be sacrificed when she turns fourteen. She is content with her
    Ashleigh | Wild Heart Reads
    f/f fantasy + necromancy??? I'm ...more
    Amy Imogene Reads
    Nov 18, 2019 marked it as to-read
    An orc priestess? Color me intrigued...

    Thank you to TOR for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
    [indeterminable yelling]


    Rep: lesbian mcs, gay mc, bi side character
    Anyway, I just want to say that I love living in a world where Tor gives sapphic fantasy books faster than I can read them. This is the only redeeming thing about this timeline.
    Jul 22, 2019 marked it as to-read
    Shelves: arc, etbr
    I hear f/f fantasy, I want to read the book
    Oct 20, 2019 marked it as to-read
    *singing voice* Own voices sapphic adult fantasy published by Tor. Oh how I need this on my shelves.
    May 27, 2019 marked it as to-read-so-bad-it-hurts
    'The Unspoken Name grew out of my long-standing curiosity about villains’ sidekicks: what might it take to stay loyal to a boss who is clearly bad news? What do you owe to someone who saves your life, and what do they owe to you? That, and I wanted to write a sweeping adventure with all the wizard’s towers, giant snakes and awful undead things I’ve always loved.'


    Aly (In Wonderland)
    Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
    I'm not going to pretend to have understood this book in any way, shape, or form. But my goodness, it's addicting. Just the characters themselves are multi-faceted and incredibly relatable. I love the magic system, the intricate world-building and all the political strife that I didn't really get.

    I highly recommend preordering this book. It's a High Fantasy ready to sweep you off your feet -- especially if you're looking for something new and unique and never written before.

    Full review to come!
    Freya Marske
    Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: favourites
    This was a DAMN ROMP and I enjoyed the hell out of it; the kind of fantasy book I could never write, but thoroughly enjoy hurling myself into. The worldbuilding is awesome, the stakes and twists and shifting allegiances kept giving me whiplash, the protagonist is a disaster lesbian with a sword, and every character is vivid and complex and selfish in their own way. Heartily recommend.
    Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    *ARC received*

    I’m not sure where to start with The Unspoken Name, a fantastic fantasy novel from A.K. Larkwood. It has so many facets, it’s difficult to decide which one to speak about first.

    So, lets start here: This is a bloody good book. It has artfully crafted, believable characters. It has relationships which feel real. Fraught, sweet, complicated, unpleasant, all of the above – but real. It has a vividly imagined world which blends the strange and the familiar in order to make something
    Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: netgalley
    It really takes a lot for me to hand out a 5-star review. I’m nitpicky. Some might say I struggle to enjoy things, but I like to think I have...standards.

    This book was so unbelievably fun, so engrossing and exciting, so joyously gay, I couldn’t give it anything less than a perfect rating.

    Is the book itself perfect? I mean, I’d be hard-pressed to pick out anything specific that I didn’t like, but I’m sure someone could. This book simply made me feel good, and made me laugh, and made me excited
    K B
    Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    The Unspoken Name, by A.K. Larkwood is a dark, page-turning, diverse fantasy full of twists and turns!

    Csorwe is raised by a cult who follows the magic of a dark and old God, and who are preparing her for death. She will be the sacrifice their God requires but as she awaits her inescapable fate she is offered the chance of a lifetime, the chance of life.

    The wizard wants to train her, keep her as an assistant, as a weapon. To escape her death she accepts, and ends up on a missions that will change
    May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    What a spectacular book. Epic fantasy can be a little hit or miss for me, but this book was a stunning surprise (it is somehow a debut???? It doesn’t seem fair that anyone’s debut should be this accomplished and elegant??????).

    Larkwood writes with an extremely light hand - she deftly dodges the trap of getting bogged down in description, but still builds a network of rich, vivid, evocative fantasy worlds. It’s a marvel on the technical level and also a total pleasure to read.

    Full disclosure: I
    Jul 27, 2019 marked it as to-read
    Saw a tweet comparing it to The Tombs of Atuan but with LGBT elements. Boom, there it was on my want-to-read.
    Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Loved it! Felt like a space opera in a fantasy setting. Full review to come.
    Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    This book stole my soul. Even while writing this I'm still immersed in the world of The Unspoken Name.

    This book has everything; sacrifice, vengeance, loyalty, magic, gods and more. I had heard nothing about it until I got it and requesting was one of my best decisions.

    At the beginning of the book there is a map, a list of the persons involved and a pronunciation guide which came in very handy.

    The Charcaters
    There are many Charcaters in this book and you will need the pronunciation guide as the
    Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    (disclaimers up front: i received an arc from & know the author, you’d think this would bias me but actually i am incapable of faking this much enthusiasm about anything, ever)

    this might legitimately be the best book i read all year, both from a technical standpoint (it’s perfect) and from a “my brand!!!” standpoint.

    OK. SO. pls imagine for a moment a swashbuckling tale of magic and adventure and spaceships and orcs and necromancers and snake wizards (snizards) that stars the following cast:
    Lauren Easey
    Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Thanks to Netgalley and Pan Mac for the review copy.

    A very interesting book. A lesser woman would have split it into three books, as there are quite a few high intensity climaxes which could have been their own individual stories, but I'm glad they weren't. I like it as a whole saga of self-discovery, friendship, love and hate. Changing alliances and misdirected affection, and of course, power. The world is incredibly well researched and created, the author should be extremely proud of herself.
    Red Ink Book Reviews
    Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    I was extremely lucky to get an advanced copy of this book from TOR to review. I was not disappointed with A. K. Larkwood’s debut novel.

    The cover intrigued me from the start with this book. It spoke to me of a tale filled with mystery and trials yet to be revealed.

    I haven’t read such a gripping and epic fantasy tale since Trudi Canavan’s The Black Magician Trilogy.

    A. K. Larkwood takes you on a journey following a young female orc, Csorwe. Growing up all Csorwe knew was the House of Silence, her
    Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    I adored this book! I can definitely see the parallels to The Tombs Of Atuan, but honestly, the Tombs of Atuan is only where this book begins- what follows is so much more original, touching and compelling than that simple comparison suggests.

    At its heart, The Unspoken Name is about personhood, destiny, and allowing yourself to define who you are. So many people in fantasy raised for some kind of purpose, or with a destiny, or meet someone who changes their conception of who they are utterly-
    Kristi Wright
    Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    There's so much to love about this fantasy that I'm not sure where to begin. It's an epic story that travels many worlds and spans many years, but it never feels like it's falling into the weeds. It moves from moment to moment like a well-crafted symphony. All of the characters, whether villain, hero, or both, are written with love. I don't mean that they are all sweetness and light, I just mean that it's obvious the author cares deeply about each of them and therefore has made them all complex ...more
    Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Recommends it for: fans of epic fantasy & readers looking for LGBT+ fantasy rep.
    Shelves: lgbtqiap
    I was kindly gifted an ARC of The Unspoken Name via Netgalley for 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. 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. The world building is vast and has the perfect amount of detail. I loved
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    A K Larkwood is a science fiction and fantasy writer and enthusiast. She studied English at St John's College, Cambridge. She has worked in higher education & media relations, and is now studying law. She lives in Oxford, England, with her wife and a cat.

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