This book was part of Bookworm Blues grouping and has since been eliminated. Their review here: http://www.bookwormblues.net/2017/08/21/spfbo-2017-round-3-mini-reviews/
King Callan has to get to the temple of Oshia to help his wife, she’s dying and he’s been told by his Seer that the only way to save her is to get to this temple. He adds that a woman by the name of Inez will be critical to the success of the mission and he has to find her and bring her along. The book opens when he’s already on his way with Inez – they are heading to a town to gather a few warriors to help them along the way.
They get to the Inn and find a couple warriors ready to go with them, Gannarr and Cass. Inez has an immediate distaste for Cass, but she’s not sure what it’s about. Maybe jealousy that she’s getting the attention from the men, or maybe it’s something more. Inez is one of my favourite characters, she’s an old bitty who loves to talk about her past sexcapades and tries to get younger men into bed with her. She reminds me a bit of Nanny Ogg in certain ways.
It’s supposed to be an impossible journey to get to Oshia, it’s one of the temples that’s the furthest away from any sort of city and their travels are impeded by a number of dangers. They have to make it through the Forest of no Return full of spiders that have legs the size of trees with moss and stuff growing on them. They have to make it past the harpees and bandits. The Aswangs are humanoid monstrous creatures that feed off of humans – lots of stuff going on during their journey.
Final Score: 8/10
King Callan is actually a likeable character even though he’s sort of “Kingy”. Inez finds it amusing to try and bait him with rather harsh insults but he just grins and bears it – he’s good at maintaining his composure.
Inez is sort of mysterious, I always got the feeling there was more to her than what was showing. What other reason would there be for a Seer to name her specifically as critical to the mission? She’s pretty old and sort of ornery but also funny. She has a donkey that’s just as comical that pulls their cart along the way.
Cass is a female warrior that has everyone’s attention when she’s in the room, she’s loud, loves telling stories and has a lot of good ones to tell. She also has a soft spot for Griffins, as a kid she helped a young chick who’s parents had been killed by Banshees. She lured two other roosting Griffins over to the chick since they are communal nesters at great risk to herself – but it worked. Ever since then she grew a relationship with them and was eventually able to ride them.
Gunnarr is one of the warriors picked up along with Cass. He’s definitely honor bound and takes a lot of pride in defending the realm and offering his services for good cause. He’s falling in love with Cass, and their relationship was actually enjoyable. I don’t typically like romance but I did enjoy these two.
Viola is a young enchantress picked up on the way, she’s sort of desperate to get out of her village where she’s destined to become a wife and mother and unable to leave her village after marriage. She’s sweet and kind of shy, but I really liked her.
Overall I found the characters well developed and endearing, I liked them all for different reasons.
Final Score: 8.5/10
I really liked the world building, there were explanations of the monsters and their behaviors rather than just being placed in the environment with no reasoning. I always love when even a touch of ethology or ecology make it into a book, no matter how small. The explanations for why the spiders lived where they did, how the griffins behaved and interacted with each other really charmed me.
There are giant stone statues in the middle of an empty field that gave a sense of wonder, and the lore behind them was pretty neat. They’re called the Dead Gods and legend has it that they were cast into stone by a magical artefact during a war/sabotage between the gods.
There are all sorts of fantasy creatures in this world, from giant spiders the size of buildings, to swarms of marta which are tiny insects with paralyzing vemon that eat you alive while you can’t move. There are Aswangs which are hairy humanoid creatures that prey on humans. Hydras live in the waters with scales so touch that swords have little effect, ships have to line their hulls with armor to avoid being sunk.
Elves in this world are a menace, they bewitch human women and rape and impregnate them. They only live on one of the continents and boats coming from that continent have to be checked for stow away elves. They have terrible songs with terrible lyrics and are overall a giant nuisance.
Enchantresses are young women with special gifts, but as they age their powers diminish – they try and breed more enchantresses with special mating practices. Viola was one of them and effectively ran away from her village under the guise she wanted to help with the Kings mission.
Final Score: 8.5/10
It took a little bit for the book to get going, they are on a journey for a while – but once it got going it went pretty quickly.
The writing style was entertaining and well done, but there were some editing errors in the ebook version.
The tone was adventurous and more light than dark, the interactions between characters and their general demeanor were comical or endearing rather than dark and brooding.
Pacing Final Score: 7.5/10
Writing Final Score: 7.5/10
I’ve seen a lot of “going on a quest” stories, but for some reason, this one felt different. It could be the combination of personalities going on the mission or the world building around it – but I really enjoyed myself despite having read many ‘quest’ stories.
Final Score: 8/10
- For people who like ‘quest’ stories
- For people who like multi pov
- For people who like great characters
- For people who like myths and legends around Gods
- For people who like monsters/fantasy creatures
- For people who like older characters
- For people looking for female POV ‘
- For people looking for female authored high fantasy
- For people looking for LGBT characters
Final Score: 48/60 or 8/10