Ahoy there me mateys! This here be the first book in my Scallywagathon 2019 Challenge. Challenge one was Looting and I had to pick a book with gold on the spine. I heard about this book from Drew @ thetattooedbookgeek and knew I had to read it because it features telepathic giant cats AND dragons. While I enjoyed the book overall, I am somewhat conflicted and am hoping that writing this review will help clarify me thoughts.
The book takes place in an a world of at least four kingdoms. There is the kingdom of Atura with a dying king who is the only one keeping the magic in check. There is Eth whose residents seem to want to kill everyone else. There is the Emperor in the Forbidden City of the East who wants to control the rest of the world. And then there is Zeera, a desert matriarchy which has the cool telepathic cats. War is on the horizon.
The highlight of this book for me were the characters. Particular favourites were Hafsa Azeina, Daru, and Jian. Hafsa Azeina is a dreamshifter who can kill people in their sleep. She is a sorceress whose main mission is to keep her daughter alive. The costs of this are high. Daru is her apprentice. Born with physical handicaps, the women and cats scorn him for his weakness. His position keeps him begrudgingly tolerated and yet his inner being is steel. His sections were me favourite. Jian is a Daeborn with an affinity for water. The Emperor owns him body and soul. He was me other favourite perspective but has the least amount of page time. But what ye do get is tantalizing.
And then there be the cats, the vash’ai. These monstrous cats are not tame, pets, or owned. They choose to bond telepathically with the people of the Zeera. They are opinionated, vain, loyal to a point, and well cats. They don’t always listen but are always fun to read about. I loved all of them and their distinct personalities.
The dragons in this book are hardly present. There seem to be two. The female is kept sleeping and will destroy the world if she wakes. The male is the sun or something. Here is the start of where I got lost. There is another universe or dimension or dreamworld or all three. I didn’t really understand how any of it worked or tied together. Pretty much all of these sections were befuddling. There also seems to be several types of magic at work in the world but I don’t understand the rules or functioning of any of it.
The politics are also a bit confusing. The matriarchy’s politics were the clearest and most easy to follow. I suppose that makes sense because most of the action took place in their kingdom. But the politics of the King were convoluted and odd. I think the goal is to keep the dragon asleep but am not sure. The Emperor’s seem to literally be “domination of all.” Also the character of Sulema is the pivot point on which everything hinges. She is kinda naive and selfish and a mess. But I was still engaged in her story.
The pacing of this novel was also rough for me. The beginning was fantastic but started to fall apart once the reveal happened. It sort of felt like the at the end of a 500 page book, ye really haven’t progressed far enough in the plot or explanations of things. But there is an interesting story mixed in there somewhere. I certainly want to know what happens to many of the individual characters. I am just not sure if I care about the outcome of the war. It seems obvious that Sulema has to save the world.
Despite the negative sounding tone of the last couple of paragraphs, I really did like enough of the book to try the next one in the series. The author claims that there are at least three books so I will have time to make up me mind about how things turn out. And do check out Drew’s review because it makes more sense and flows much more nicely then mine. Arrrr!
Goodreads has this to say about the novel (edited by me):
The last Aturan King is dying, and as his strength fades so does his hold on sa and ka. Control of this power is a deadly lure; the Emperor stirs in his Forbidden City to the East, while deep in the Seared Lands, the whispering voices of Eth bring secret death. Eight men and women take their first steps along the paths to war, barely realizing that their world will soon face a much greater threat; at the heart of the world, the Dragon stirs in her sleep. A warrior would become Queen, a Queen would become a monster, and a young boy plays his bird-skull flute to keep the shadows of death at bay.
To visit the author’s twitter go to:
To buy the book go to:
To add to Goodreads go to: