I purchased this book back in February because 1) the cover and 2) the premise of this story. A sacrifice who avoids her duty and decides to live? UGH GIVE TO ME! A powerful mage who promises her freedom and safety? OMG! The Gods are angered by this? WHOA I NEED THIS BOOK NOW!
Yes, those were the exact thoughts going through my head! Once I was home, I realized that I had been approved for this title on NetGalley, but for whatever reason it went straight into being archived, so I couldn’t download it. But, oh well! I read the physical copy I bought and it was good!
Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
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 an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.
But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.
Csorwe, pronounced like doorway, is a human sacrifice who decides to live. Yeah, the premise got me really excited for this book. I wanted it to the be a five star read, I really did – but it’s not.
Let’s start off with the writing/chapters. The writing is good! But very descriptive and she explains a lot and generally kinda slow. While I liked the way she gives us everything that is going on, I felt like it was dragging a bit. And the chapters were incredibly long. Usually 20+ pages long. I don’t mind long chapters so long as the book progresses quickly and there’s a lot to push us forward, but it made this book feel extra slow.
Then we have the worlds. Though she tried to explain it well, the worlds still felt a bit unfamiliar and hard to imagine. It’s clear we travel through teleportation, I think, into different ports. Those ports equals different worlds in the same universe? See, I’m honestly not even sure how this whole thing works. It wasn’t very clear to me how the world(s) are set up nor how exactly they traveled, but that’s less important. What is important is getting there and knowing that these worlds can die.
Run on the power of gods, if those gods are forgotten/parish, well then the world will go too. Which is really cool! We get some awesome moments in those dying worlds and it leads us towards the somewhat scary reality of what they’re trying to prevent.
Next, the characters. OMG the banter between Csorwe and Tal was A+ witty sibling banter, even though they are not siblings. Not only is there lots of insults and cussing, but the genuine distaste and distrust is hilarious. There were several moments where Tal had me DYING from laughter due to his comments/his actions. While Tal is hilarious, he does undergo and complex and needed change. It was refreshing to see him grow and become a character that I really liked.
Sethennai, Csorwe’s savior, is an interesting character though. He comes across fun and adventurous in the beginning of the book, then switches to a more emotionless, calm character. Not sure why the shift happened, but I noticed that change in his personality. I’m not sure I necessarily like his character, but I thought he was a great motivator for Csorwe and becomes an obstacle in his own right for her.
Then we have our main character, Csorwe. She’s a complex person and I thought her backstory, her journey, and her self realizations were great development for her. She’s witty, smart, and wants to live life to the fullest. Which makes it difficult when you’re the human sacrifice.
Then we have Shuthmili, who was also super cute and a great character. Her innocence was a great contrast to Csorwe’s brutal experiences. The soft romance that blossoms between them is also really cute. I loved her kindness and desire to learn while also being an incredibly powerful mage. Her powers are unlike anyone has seen and the hoops she has to jump through to live and survive are immense.
Since the author is gay, and our main characters are all queer, I am not going to remark on the romance other than to say, Csorwe and Shuthmili are adorable and Tal deserves better (thank goodness he realized that too!).
So, writing was long and a bit slow, plot was interesting if not confusing, the characters were awesome, and the romances are cute.
It was honestly hard to rate this book, but I think a // 5 stars is a fine rating. It wasn’t bad because I did enjoy the story, but there were a lot of things (mostly pace and lengthy chapters) that dragged the plot along. So I think this is a fair rating.
If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon.
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