Her destiny. His revenge.
In an empire on the brink of war . . .– GoodReads
Reading the synopsis of this, I can say I was definitely *jazzed* about it. Yea, I’m old enough to say things like that, so what? Anyway, totally was excited and honestly, this was a pretty damn good debut. I’m looking forward to more from Tan.
I think one of the reasons I was so excited is that it reminded me a lot of Shadow of the Fox and I freakin adore that book -and trilogy- so much.
World-building? A solid four cups of coffee. Lore? Four cups for sure. Tan does such an amazing job setting us up in this new world and the descriptions just made my little black heart so happy. I also super enjoyed the land’s physicality due to magic/lore. It was great and something that I could have spent hours happily reading about it.
The characters themselves were where I started to not have issues but where the disparity between the rest of her writing and them hit me. The side characters are WONDERFUL, nay, GLORIOUS. But. The MCs were not as well fleshed out as I would have liked. They had a lot of potential but I felt we never got to know them on a deeper level. Especially where Ahn was concerned. She accepted things so easily all the time that it meant there was never a need to show any turmoil or thoughts on things. That isn’t always true, there are some areas that she deliberates and those to me are where Ahn shines brightest. There was never enough growth for me to love her as much as I wanted to from where she started and where she ended.
Altan had a bit more depth from the start. But that might be because his backstory was much clearer than hers. We knew where his darkness and pain were so that was an advantage. His growth is there but it felt rushed at the end.
Overall the pacing is disjointed because of the lack of character development from the MCs (or rushed development). The beginning was slow but the ‘quest’ was the funnest part for me to read and that carried over the momentum till the end.
When things are glossed over too much and the stakes don’t feel high, it’s hard to get invested as much as I wanted to. This had potential to be more than it was but I will say again there were some strong points and it was still a solid read.
3.5 cups of coffee from me but if it was just based on lore and world-building, it’d be 4 (just based on MCs, 3). Thanks so much to the publisher and NetGalley for an eARC of this in exchange for my honest opinion; so sorry in the delay of posting the review!