Petrik's Reviews > The Unspoken Name

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood
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really liked it
bookshelves: arcs-and-review-copies, owned-physical-books
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 trilogy—recommended the book to me. Then I found out that Lindsey Hall, the editor behind two books—Kings of the Wyld and the upcoming The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson—I truly loved edited this book too, suffice to say that The Unspoken Name has attained all the package that made it a necessity for me to read; I’m glad I did.

“Csorwe had spent a lifetime readying herself to die, not to talk to strangers.”


The Unspoken Name, the first book in The Serpent’s Gate series by A. K. Larkwood, follows Csorwe—an orc priestess destined to become a sacrifice to her god on her fourteenth birthday. On the day of her prophesied death, Belthandros Sethennai—a powerful wizard—offers her a new fate that compels her to escape death by leaving her home, destiny, god, and become Sethennai’s personal assassin instead. The main plot of The Unspoken Name centers around Csorwe as she’s tasked by Sethennai to retrieve the Reliquary of Pentravesse; anyone who claims the Reliquary will gain the legacy and knowledge of Pentravesse—someone who changed all worlds forever. Jumping through multiple worlds with a strong echo of chaos and destruction accompanied by landscapes that are also beautiful, Csorwe has to go through tons of dangers to achieve this task; many events happened in less than 500 pages book. However, what I found to be very praise-worthy about the story was that in the midst of all the mayhem, The Unspoken Name is at its core a book about choices and its importance.

“People were like locks. All resistance, until you discovered the precise information of teeth that would open them up.”


“You always have a choice,” have you ever heard this often-repeated phrases/advice straight to your face? You probably have, and you’ll most likely know just how simple it sounds and yet how insanely difficult it can be to execute. What if for a period of time, short or long, you’re caught in a toxic situation/environment that you didn’t recognize at first? By the time you do, the actual task of breaking the invisible chains can be harder than it sounds. Freedom and choices—among many other themes such as faith, loyalty, and love—were the most relatable themes throughout the book for me; Csorwe’s journey and character development ignited and gave an impactful meaning to the themes in this book. I wouldn’t say that I clicked with Csorwe immediately, but once the story reached a quarter mark and eventually she meets Shuthmili, I became captivated thoroughly by Larkwood’s storytelling. The Unspoken Name doesn’t have a large cast of characters relatively, but the dynamic between the five dominating characters—Csorwe, Sethennai, Oranna, Tal, and Shuthmili—was very compelling. Also, I loved reading Csorwe and Shuthmili’s endearing and gradual relationship development; their relationship progression was believable and easy to root for.

“Csorwe, before I met you, my idea of happiness was, I don’t know, going to bed early.”


From my reading experience, the most impressive thing about Larkwood’s prose is her capability to constantly shift her writing style between elegant utterance and bloody scenery; it didn’t feel like reading a debut effort. Also, The Unspoken Name is an imaginative book with a very fascinating world-building. Seriously, it has multiple worlds to travel, ancient tombs, terrifying giant serpents, spaceships, magic, giants, and intimidating presence of dead gods. Gorgeous landscapes described beautifully and efficiently; Larkwood never went overboard with her scenery visualizations. In a way, this book reminded me a bit of the world-building done in Gideon The Ninth by Tamsyn Muir; telling a high fantasy story in a sci-fi/space-opera setting. Heck, comparison-wise, it even featured a swordswoman and queer duo as the main characters.

“The secret to greatness is to know when you should risk the wrath of god.”


I believe that The Unspoken Name is, ironically, the title of an incredible genre-blending debut that should and will be spoken by its readers in the future. I highly recommend it to both sci-fi and fantasy readers, even more so if you’re a fan of both genres. It’s creative, greatly imaginative, not afraid to be different, filled with intense rescue sequences, and it gave a breathtaking lotus-scented fresh air to the genre. Larkwood tells a compelling tale about choices and braving the first step to pave your own way, and you should choose to read this book as soon as it’s available to read.

Official release date: 20th February 2020 (UK) and 11th February 2020 (US)

You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
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Reading Progress

August 9, 2019 – Shelved
October 29, 2019 – Started Reading
October 31, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)

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message 1: by Lucia (new)

Lucia This sounds amazing! My interest is peaked by your review, I need to check it out when it is released. But first I need to read other books that I have added lately to my to-read list based on your recs ;)


Petrik Lucia wrote: "This sounds amazing! My interest is peaked by your review, I need to check it out when it is released. But first I need to read other books that I have added lately to my to-read list based on your..."

Thank you, Lucia! Hahah the problem of having tons of TBR! Btw, this book is available on Netgalley UK right now, the format isn't too good though. But if you want, you can request it before it's taken down! :)


message 3: by Virginie (new) - added it

Virginie Great review. Still, it's not a victory for you, TBR Demon. The book was already on my TBR...
*Muhahahaha*


Petrik Virginie wrote: "Great review. Still, it's not a victory for you, TBR Demon. The book was already on my TBR...
*Muhahahaha*"


Thanks, Virgine! Arghh that's too bad! I was hoping to put this one into your TBR! Let's see if I can find more before the end of the year...


message 5: by Virginie (new) - added it

Virginie Hum. Did you know that GR cuts comments, and you have to click 'more' to read its entirety? And that sometimes, the cutting point is in the middle of a word?
Because your previous comment appears as: 'I was hoping to put this one into you...' xD


Petrik Virginie wrote: "Hum. Did you know that GR cuts comments, and you have to click 'more' to read its entirety? And that sometimes, the cutting point is in the middle of a word?
Because your previous comment appears a..."


Seriously? I didn't know that! Bahahahahahahah oh my god that's crazy, can't believe it cut off right there! xD


message 7: by Mili (new) - added it

Mili I was hoooping for you to love it. Am planning to get it, sounds so awesome :D


message 8: by Audrey (new) - added it

Audrey I was already attracted by the cover and your review convinced me I will buy it when it come out. Rip to my never-ending tbr lol


message 9: by Chelsea (new) - added it

Chelsea Humphrey Hooray! Fab review, Petrik. Can't wait to read this one!


Petrik Mili wrote: "I was hoooping for you to love it. Am planning to get it, sounds so awesome :D"

Hahaha! it's actually available on Netgalley UK right now if you want to get it immediately. Do note that the format is quite bad though! Regardless, I think there's plenty of things to love here, I hope you'll like it too, my friend! :)


Petrik Audrey wrote: "I was already attracted by the cover and your review convinced me I will buy it when it come out. Rip to my never-ending tbr lol"

RIP to my never-ending TBR is my everyday's mantra xD


Petrik Chelsea wrote: "Hooray! Fab review, Petrik. Can't wait to read this one!"

Thank you, Chelsea!! I think you'll enjoy this one more than Gideon the Ninth! It has the a similar vibe in world-building, with a much more tolerable main character and accessible writing! :)


message 13: by Chelsea (new) - added it

Chelsea Humphrey Oo yes!!! 👏🏼👏🏼 I’m all in for that. 🤣


message 14: by Vilius (new) - added it

Vilius This does sound really interesting and it looks like there is an audiobook.


Petrik Chelsea wrote: "Oo yes!!! 👏🏼👏🏼 I’m all in for that. 🤣"

YASSSS


Petrik Vilius wrote: "This does sound really interesting and it looks like there is an audiobook."

It's very interesting. I tend to think that anything that feels original these days as a plus! I have no idea about the quality of the audio though, I hope it will be great as well! :D


message 17: by ashley (new) - added it

ashley (❁´◡`❁) Oh, this sounds super fantastic! Adding to my tbr. I kind of prefer when the cast is smaller, large ensembles can get daunting -- a smaller cast usually translates to better-established character development in my experience.


Petrik ashley wrote: "Oh, this sounds super fantastic! Adding to my tbr. I kind of prefer when the cast is smaller, large ensembles can get daunting -- a smaller cast usually translates to better-established character d..."

Thank you! I think that large ensemble cast can have established character development as well but you're right, they're rarer. Smaller cast usually means better characterizations due to a larger focus on the small cast of characters! :)


message 19: by Alisha (new)

Alisha That looks good, how scary is it though?


Petrik Alisha wrote: "That looks good, how scary is it though?"

Not scary imo, other than the giant serpent I don't think there's anything in the book that can be considered horror element.


message 21: by Dustin (new) - added it

Dustin Adam Weller’s enthusiastic review had me adding this book to the tbr and yours cements that decision. Looks good!


message 22: by Petrik (last edited Nov 13, 2019 09:07PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Petrik Dustin wrote: "Adam Weller’s enthusiastic review had me adding this book to the tbr and yours cements that decision. Looks good!"

Woohooo that's awesome! Adam loved the book more than me, I'm curious to hear what you think of this one, Dustin! :)


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