First Lines: I never knew Tyasha ke Demit, but her execution started everything.
This was just on my most recent Spotlight, and I thought now was a good time to read it. Why? Well, I always like to read ARCs before they actually come out, even if I was kind of pushing it with this one. But I haven’t read a high fantasy in a while and this sounded like fun.
Because the plot is so intricate and I know I’m going to screw it up, I’m going to copy this from Goodreads: Raisa was only a child when she was kidnapped and enslaved in Qilara. Forced to serve in the palace of the king, she’s endured hunger, abuse, and the harrowing fear of discovery: everyone knows she is Arnath, but not that Raisa is a Learned One, a part of an Arnath group educated in higher order symbols. In Qilara, this language is so fiercely protected that only the King, the Prince, and Tutors are allowed to know it. So when the current Tutor-in-training is executed for sharing the guarded language with slaves, and Raisa is chosen to replace her, Raisa knows that—although she may have a privileged position among slaves—any slip-up could mean death.
That would be challenging enough, but training alongside Prince Mati could be her real undoing. And when a romance blossoms between them, she’s suddenly filled with a dangerous hope for something she never before thought possible: more. Then she’s propositioned by the Resistance—an underground army of slaves—to help liberate the Arnath people. Joining the rebellion could mean freeing her people…but she’d also be aiding in the war against her beloved—an honorable man that she knows wants to help the slaves.
Working against the one she loves—and a palace full of deadly political renegades—has some heady consequences. As Raisa struggles with what’s right, she unwittingly uncovers a secret that the Qilarites have long since buried…one that, unlocked, could bring the current world order to its knees.
And Raisa is the one holding the key.
Get it? Got it? Good.
So I clearly forgot how much work goes into reading a high fantasy. I mean geez. It took me ages to get rolling in this and I even contemplated giving up on it once. Not only are we building the Qilarite world, we’re also setting up all this intricate little language stuff. Like slur words that you don’t realize are slurs until 5 pages later. I get that you don’t want to explain everything in the beginning, but I could have used a little more help. And a bit more of a transition into this world.
And it’s totally possible for Raisa to get on your nerves. Or at least mine. She’s so wishy-washy. One minute she stands for fighting for her freedom and the next she’s right there with Mati, supporting the oppression. Girl, get a grip. It’s not that she’s not an interesting character, because she is, but she just gets kind of annoying. It doesn’t exactly help that we start this story when she’s 14 and we watch her grow to 17. There’s a lot of annoying in those teenage years, regardless of who you are.
As I thought about this a few days ago, I realized there weren’t really any characters in this book that I really clicked with. Normally there’s one, right? Usually the main guy or girl, sometimes a minor character who just speaks to you. But no, I didn’t have that. And that was a bit strange considering how much I love books with court politics and backstabbing. I can still usually find one redeeming character, but here? Eh. I could take ’em or leave ’em.
One pretty redeeming quality of this book is how the action picked up in the end. I’d say maybe the last 35-40% of the book. While the beginning of the book is really slow, this change of pace made for a nice…change. I used “change” twice in that sentence and I don’t like it. But there are some pretty amazing action sequences and, of course, some lovely backstabbing.
Really, I just think this book didn’t work for me. Maybe it was too high of a fantasy for me. Maybe now just wasn’t the right time for it. Either way, it wasn’t my cup of tea.