May 01, 2019PimaLib_ChristineR rated this title 3.5 out of 5 stars
TL:DR: The book is okay but not great. May be worth it to see if the next installment improves.
I wanted to love this book, and there were parts of it I did. I love the idea behind it. The magic system is interesting, if not completely explored. The three main characters are unique and well-developed and the plot and pacing are perfect. But with all that, there were some things that were just "off" about the novel. Like it could have used a couple of more trips to the editing block.
Some were small things, easier to overlook, like the moment, out of nowhere that Nadya "felt a confidence she had never really known before." What? Why? Or the flawed logic Serefin uses when riling his father. He tells himself, "if he was just being paranoid, his father would ignore his snark as he usually did." Um, don't you think his father could have faked it? Pelageya is supposed to be "mad" but she doesn't seem too far out there and her prophecies seem to make sense. In fact, she is extremely straightforward, especially the second time they meet.
But there are larger problems. Nadya spends an inordinate amount of time angsting over Malachiasz, the defector from the Tranavian side, who seems, "off-putting" but of course, she just can't resist him. Nadya never comes to term with the changes in her understanding of her magic. Nadya hates using her magic without "contact from the gods." But if she has magic without the gods, how can her magic be related to her religion? Why does she need to make way for them in a country that doesn't want them? Too much time was dedicated to creating an unnecessary love interest instead of answering the big questions. And twice Nadya has to use, what she considers "heretical" blood magic. Both times she gives herself a nearly identical speech about how she wouldn't do it if there were any other way. Okay, we get it. And because of that, it is difficult to connect with any of these characters.
Regardless, the story held enough interest that I'll be picking up the next in the series. Duncan sets us up with this image from the evil Black Vulture, or whatever controls him: "he needed four things: one that was lost, one that was held in a different song's grasp, one that had stopped listening to songs years ago, and one who was untouchable because they were too close to being a song themselves." So there's that.
Duncan shows promise with this novel and I hope her editing team steps up on the next go around.