I received a copy of this in exchange for a review. This book will appeal most to people who like coming of age stories, epic fantasy with multi-pov, and a culture with a strict hierarchy or caste system.
Two thousand years ago an entity known as Suwraith appeared in the world and caused mass chaos, over half of humanity died, and for a while, it looked liked mankind was going to go extinct. She’s said to be the daughter of the First Mother, and the First Father, she’s an evil goddess who wants to eradicate humans from the world, seeing them as a plague to her domain. She continues to be a problem, she’s the leader of a massive horde of chimera’s, probably over half a million given the numbers used. The chimera’s roam through the Wilderness picking off humans that come outside of their cities.
Given the plagues of chimera’s, humanity has been divided and isolated into enormous but secluded cities which work like an oasis in a world of danger. Suwraith has already destroyed some of the few cities the world has left. She’s been delayed in her conquest by her own madness, she’s gone absolutely insane and is no longer in touch with reality, unable to effectively command her armies. She thinks cities she’s already conquered still need to be conquered, and that living cities are already destroyed.
However, by accident, she discovered a way to restore her sanity, and now she wants to come to the cities to finally take them all down.
Final Score: 12/15
Jaresh Shekta was orphaned at a young age, but his childhood was a happy one. He was adopted into a loving family that gave him a healthy home, he has two siblings, Ruhk and Bree and both have accepted him into the family and are loyal to him. His story is an odd one because he was adopted into a different caste from his own, which is largely considered to be a taboo. He was adopted into the Komma caste which is a warrior caste, while his own caste, Sentya, are known for their intelligence and calm demeanor. In this world, caste is of the utmost importance, and relations between them can be respectful, but intermingling too much is considered to be a bannable offence – intermarriage between the castes is absolutely forbidden. He lives between worlds and it causes tension in many of his interactions with both castes of people.
Ruhk, Jaresh’s older brother, is a promising new warrior who just went on his first Trial, which is an escort mission helping a caravan of traders make their way from one city to the next which requires journeying through the Wilderness. It’s a journey many don’t come back from, and each Trial a man goes on is considered to be a great honor. The more Trial’s a Komma man survives, the greater his perceived status.
There were a lot of side POV’s, my favorite of which was the Chimaera Bael POV. His kind have suffered under the goddess for generations and they’ve become increasingly angry at their situation. He’s honor bound and tries his best to instill his virtues to the younger generation of Bael’s.
Final Score: 10/15
The culture of this world is based strictly on your caste, there are 7 of them and they are supposed to be “equals”, but the obvious reigning class are the Komma’s. The Komma’s are the ones who make the trek to other cities using trade routes in the Wilderness. In order to get to another city you have to traverse the “Wilderness”, it’s brutal enough that casting someone out of a city into the Wilderness is considered a death sentence. Jivatma’s are present in all people, it’s considered to be the soul and it’s where people channel their magic. Each class channels their jivatma’s differently which gives them different powers, and it’s considered a sin to try and use one’s jivatma in a way outside of their caste. A healer will never be a warrior.
“Trials” are the responsibility of the Komma class, and on each Trial, the Komma’s help escorts a caravan to a neighbouring city. It’s an incredibly dangerous task, and on each journey, about 1 in 4 don’t make it back. It’s a big part of why the Komma’s consider themselves above the other castes, they sacrifice the most for the benefit of everyone. Many of the Komma men who make it into old age are crippled in some way, it’s considered a life well lived if you have more than 4 or 5 Trial’s under your belt before you retire.
The Sentya are a caste of people who do well with numbers and are often accountants, they also have a power that lets them create a soothing presence that calms down both himself and the people around him. It creates clarity of mind and a neutral emotional state.
The Komma are the focus of the book, and since the MC is a Sentya there’s a fair bit of info on them, but the others are:
- Doriah’s who are the builders with the ability to “cohese” and stick things together
- Rahail’s who maintain the Oasis by channelling themselves into it’s structure.
- Murian’s are farmers who are able to make things grow no matter how bad the soil
- Shiyan’s are the healers
- Cherid’s are able to combine jivatma’s
Each of the different castes have their own culture, overall personality traits, physical appearance and status in society.
The Chimera’s have different subspecies with a range of intelligence starting at barnyard animal to cunning general. The Bael subspecies lead the Chimera’s and they have done their best to subvert Suwraith every time there’s an opportunity, by using her madness against her they’re able to drop the casualties inflicted on the humans and come up with a plan to take her down.
The Shilo are giant cats that even the Chimera’s are afraid of, incredibly fast and supremely deadly, they’re responsible for a lot of deaths along the way.
The glossary is your friend with this one, especially if you’re listening to the audiobook.
Final Score: 12/15
The tone was kind of jumpy, sometimes it was very light and warm with two POV’s gently teasing each other having a budding a romance in a library, to very bloody battles with characters, even POV’s dying in pretty terrible ways. This didn’t bother me too much, but it makes it difficult to say what the tone was.
There’s a little bit too much exposition, I think it stuck out to me because some of it is repeated a few times. There is light cursing, but instead of fuck, it uses frag.
This has a more straightforward writing style without a lot of similes or metaphors.
Final Score: 10.5/15
The pacing started out slower for me because there are multiple POV’s with long-ish chapters and the POV switches with each chapter at first. This does allow me to get to know the characters before switching and I knew where I was with each character when their POV’s showed up again. But, I also felt sort of like I was starting over and it slowed things down a bit, part of it could be because I wasn’t sure how each one was related to the plot or each other.
Once I got about 30% through, which is when each POV had multiple chapters I started to get the hang of things and the rest went a lot faster.
Final Score: 10/15
This was definitely something different, it’s not common to get a non-western setting and it’s always refreshing to me when I hit one of those books. The world building had a very Indian vibe to it from the foods like tikka and samosa, karma, and overall atmosphere/setting – and after looking into the author’s GR page it turns out he’s from India. I really loved getting a Chimera POV, I’ve never seen one of those before and I love getting new types of nonhuman POV. I see a lot of rich vs poor social structure, or magic vs non-magic caste structure – but seeing a world full of people divided by which kind of magic they can perform while adhering to a strict social structure isn’t something I see too often. I really like when the magic system is a big part of society.
Final Score: 13.5/15
There are a lot of things I liked about this book, I loved the settings and the different cultures of the humans and the chimaera’s, and I really liked the structured magic system – I’m almost always a fan of a lot of magic being used and having different classes and types. There were some problems though, with the voices of the characters, many of them had very similar inner voices and personality traits. Most of the characters were good people struggling with very similar issues, so that may have been part of it. Prejudice and getting over them is a running theme in this book, and with many different characters grappling with the same problem in similar ways leads to the voices being drowned out a bit. As a total personal pet peeve, I really don’t like made up curse words that are dropped in as a substitute for real cursing. It’s especially jarring when most curse words outside of fuck are used, but fuck is subbed in for another f-word. A lot of people don’t get bothered with in-world cursing so it’s not something I took any points off for. There was a LOT of time spent on whether or not characters were beautiful or not, and if so, how beautiful compared to others. All of that said though, I did get through the book quickly because I was enjoying it most of the time. I’ve heard from several people who’ve read the series that they like the second one more, so I do plan on reading that.
Final Score: 7.2/10
For people who like:
- multi pov
- non western setting
- non human pov
- lots of magic
- sentient monsters
- strict and in depth social structures
- hard magic system