I received a request from the author to read this book! If anyone wants to leave me a request you can reach me through the contact section.
This book has a rather complicated plot, with each of the characters sort of doing their own thing at the beginning.
Ruka is the first character you meet, and you see him as an adult who’s murdered a young child and he’s frying up his limbs on a skillet. After that, you flash back to when he was a kid and watch him grow up into the person he became. Ruka is “Noss Born”, which means he’s been touched by the Mountain God aka The God of Death, Chaos, and Suffering. He starts off as a nice enough kid, but he and his mother keep getting beaten down over and over again. Over the course of the years you watch him turn into a monster and it nicely parallels another character, Kale.
Kale is a prince, he’s the son of the King of Sri Kon, an island nation in the south. He’s sort of a rebellious kid, and as one of the youngest sons he’s considered ‘expendable’, so he’s been put into the navy to train to be a marine. You get to see a whole different culture through his POV, kings and nobles of a totally different land. Kale’s POV has the opposite arc from Ruka’s, he learns to be more disciplined, more responsible and grows to be a better and better person.
Dala grew up on a farm rather poor, and one year the harvest completely failed and would leave her family to starve. It was then her father decided to tie the youngest children up, and dump them in the wilderness to die. She was rescued by a band of misfits she considered to be more of a family than the one she was born into. Unfortunately, she loses them to and moves on to be a Priestess of Galda. She has a fascinating plotline where she gathers up the lowest of the low in the city, those people call “Nightmen” or “Unchosen”, they haven’t been picked for marriage and live in squalor mostly coming out at night. She’s riled them up into a rebellion, they call themselves the Nameless and are fighting back their oppressors, murdering them in the night.
Final Score: 9.5/10
- Ruka was interesting to me from the start, not only because the opening scene was cannibalism, but right away something was very different about him. His story is one of pain and brutality and watching him go from a decent kid to someone who eats kids was very interesting. Even when he’s a monster he’s interesting when he was eating the kid, he was thinking to himself “did your mother love you?”, and it just hit me in all the right ways.
- Dala is a very lonely POV, she misses her misfit band of brothers and is always on the outside of things. She doesn’t have many friends in her sisterhood and is having a hard time maintaining a high enough level to keep her place in the Order. She can be bold and charismatic, winning the Nightmen over to her side wasn’t easy, but she managed to be convincing enough to lift the spirits and morale of a defeated people.
- Kale is another favorite of mine, I really loved his interactions with his family, particularly his father and brother, and watching him grow as a person. I don’t often thoroughly enjoy coming of age stories but this was an exception. I think it’s because he was a fairly mature character given his age, he was still stubborn and teenagery at times, but overall reading his chapters didn’t make me cringe or get irritated with angst you can see in other teenage pov’s.
All of these characters had unique voices, and they all totally captured my attention – well done!
Final Score: 10/10
I think the world building may have been my favorite part of the book, each culture was really fascinating and very different from one another.
Ruka’s mother is called “God Born” which allows her to claim the title of “First Mother”. As “First Mother” she can lay claim to any man in the village she wants to take as a mate or husband, or multiple men if that’s what she wants. Ruka’s mother, Beyla, was quick to use this as a threat to get out of certain situations in the village.
In Ruka’s culture, it’s believed that women are sort of automatically accepted into paradise, but that men have to earn it through great deeds.
“Noss Touched” people usually have a deformity of some kind that makes them stand out from the rest, they are considered to be touched by the God of Chaos and those people born Noss Touched are typically ostracized. Ruka is Noss Touched, he and his mother had an encounter with a group of women who told Beyla she should have gotten rid of the child, and that he’s a freak of nature.
Some of the POV’s take place in a frost bitten land, and the other POV is set in a tropical environment, it really kept things interesting switching back and forth.
The King of Sri Kon is considered a Sorcerer King, and has been rumoured to have killed members of his own family.
The city where Dala is living there is a class of people known as “Nightmen”, who remain “unchosen” and have no wives. They are considered the bottom of humanity and treated with little more dignity than animals. Dala is forming them into a group known as the “Nameless” who are striking back at society by murdering their oppressors.
Final Score: 9.25/10
The book opens with a young boy being hacked apart to be eaten, so you sort of know right away what kind of story this is going to be, and although it wasn’t all dark, there were definitely some moments where I was like “wtf”.
The pacing here may vary, I think some people could be tripped up by how long it can take to switch pov’s, you could feel like you’re starting all over again when you get to a new pov or were really invested in one pov and then it switches. I loved all 3 POV’s so I sailed right through, I read this in under 24 hours and it’s 600 pages long.
I really loved the writing, it’s rare when I can highlight someone’s writing in Indie – that’s not meant as an insult, but many indie authors are debut or new authors and it sort of shows. Most SPFBO books I’ve rated the writing around a 7, which means it serviced the story and I wasn’t tripped up by awkward writing, but it wasn’t anything exceptional. I can’t believe this was a debut, everything flowed nicely, the dialogue was believable and I caught 0 errors. I am a far cry from an editor, but I usually catch something.
Pacing Final Score: 8.5/10
Writing Final Score: 9.25/10
This had completely unique world building – the cultures, the religions, the environments were all fresh.
Final Score: 9.25/10
- For people who like multi pov
- For people who like unique world building
- For people who like darker stories
- For people who like villain or dark POVs
- For people who like coming of age stories
- For people who like character driven stories
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I would recommend it to anyone who likes multi pov epic fantasy. I would say that if you’re not sure where the plot is going, and you’re getting kind of worried it won’t come together – it does. It’s just a long book that builds up for the first 30% or so.
Final Score: 56/60 or 9.3/10