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Because of the lack of hype around this book, I had no expectation going into this book. So it was quite a surprise when I ended up really liking this book.
The book starts off a little rough but evens out as you move forward. It took me a while to get into it because, although I expected this to be an Adult fantasy novel, I didn’t expect it to be as gritty as something similar to ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George R. R. Martin. The fantasy world seems more like a dystopian since there isn’t much order or governing going on and where slavery and rape isn’t as big of an issue for the population as I would think it would be. But thankfully, the focus shifts more to Danr’s story/quest forward and less on the cruelty of the world as you get further into the story.
But despite the fact that Danr is the main protagonist of the story, half troll half human, I actually liked Aisa—and to a greater extent, even Talfi—more than any other character. Considering she is a sex slave and constantly abused by her master and his wife, she is a very strong female protagonist. She is at times sassy, sharp, and loyal to the bone towards someone who looks after her. Despite the fact that her father sold her into slavery, at one point in the book, she even comes to let that past go. For someone who bares physical scars of rape and abuse, covers herself in heavy clothing so the world can’t see, I can imagine that forgiving the man who became the reason for it all wasn’t an easy feat. She is incredibly strong and I loved her for that. Talfi, on the other hand, is just as lovable a sidekick as one would want. Although there isn’t much humor in this book, Talfi’s trustworthy attitude contrasting against Aisa’s dark sorrows and Danr’s self-deprecating musings was a refreshing change at times.
Danr, as good a character as he was, was sometimes a bit too annoying. Not for any particular reason honestly, simply because of this constant good vs evil fight he has with himself. I sympathized with him, because of the way he has been treated all his life, but often I just wished he would get over the notion that everyone thinks he is a monster and move on with life. In retrospect, he did have the potential to be a bad person (as do we all) but he never lets out the “monster” within him so I really felt bad that he wasted so much time scolding himself over nothing.
There is a bit of confusion in terms of what is the targeted audience for this book. In reminded me slightly of ‘The Final Empire’ by Brandon Sanderson because of this. The world itself definitely deals with a lot of adult issues but because the main characters are quite young, sometimes their narratives can make feel as if you are reading a young adult novel. Then something awful would happen, or someone would swear (some of the swear words seemed out of place at times actually) and suddenly, I am snapped out of the misunderstanding that this is not a young adult novel.
Overall though, I was more than satisfied with numbers of twists and turns this story takes, as well as the fantastically neat ending. It was a little too neat perhaps, in terms of what happens with Talfi, but because I like him so much…I don’t really care. The mixture of orcs, humans, elves, etc. also never felt as overwhelming as I thought it might—everything felt as if it belonged in the story. If there is a second book in this series, I am certainly looking forward to it!
Disclaimer: An audiobook copy of this book was provided by Audible in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced by any exterior motives.
44 of 49 people found this review helpful
I WANT YOU TO WALK RIGHT BESIDE ME
I agree with RAM, that this book is so under hyped, I did not expect much. It took a while for this to get into it's deepest intellectual form, but when it does it hits on all cylinders. This is one really big, well written fairy tale. I thought it was entertaining throughout and highly recommend it to those who like well written, but not full of fight scene books. If your looking for mindless swash buckling action, you will not find it here.
STATUS MATTERS, BUT ONLY YOUR STATUS, NOT YOUR FAMILY'S STATUS
This is one theme that is near and dear to me and one which you almost never find in a fantasy epic. I hate books in which all achievements are based on your family tree.
DO NOT SHOW THEM THE MONSTER
This is a character driven story. The main character is half troll and half human. In the first hour or two, the author may go a little over board with all the ways this character is mistreated. I was worried this was going to become some depressing YA clichéd melodrama. It does not. I disagree with some reviewers that say this is predictable and or that the characters are black and white. I thought all the characters were complicated with gray sides to them.
THE FACE LOOKED MORE ERODED, THAN WRINKLED
Those who like well written descriptions will love this. I do not like overly flowered language and this author manages to come up with unusual ways, but highly visionary ways to describes characters. The language is so well done that often you don't realize how well because it does not stick out like a sore thumb or try to overtake the story.
SPEECHES DON'T MAKE A KING, BUT A KING SURE MAKES SPEECHES
While the building up of this universe, requires some politics, the politics are not overly complicated and they are part of the story, not a burden to it.
YOU ARE LESS INTELLIGENT THAN YOU PUT ON
I have to agree with Shelia about the narrator. While doing voices he is excellent, but while doing narration, he is a bit slow and mechanical. I will also say that in the beginning there is some telling and not showing, when it comes to the background of Aisa. This may have been necessary to keep the length of the novel down. It is a minor grievance. I also thought it interesting that all the humans, elves, trolls, fairies and orcs had the same language. This shows a bit of laziness from the author.
CRUMBS ARE STILL BREAD
I don't know if authors read these reviews, but if Harper is listening, I would love to listen to some prequels. Danr's parents story, Aisa could use a book all her own and for the action packed seekers, all the previous wars, with the story of the making of the IRON AXE
122 of 142 people found this review helpful