Thursday, February 6, 2020

Review: The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood

The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates, #1)
The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood
Publication Date: February 11th, 2020
Hardcover. 464 pages

About The Unspoken Name:

"What if you knew how and when you will die? 

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice. 

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard's loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power. 

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due."

The Unspoken Name is a book that I have super mixed feelings about this book because on the one hand, I thought it was imaginative and exciting and had such a fascinating world, but on the other hand  I never really felt fully connected to the story and the pacing threw me off a lot. I could talk for a long time about all the positives of this book, but I could equally talk about the things that I didn't love as much, so let's dive into this review and try to sort through some of my opinions on it.

The Unspoken Name combines some fantasy and sci-fi elements to create a really unique and genuinely interesting world. This world was a very ambitious undertaking and I think Larkwood executed it well overall by combining the two genre's components in ways that seemed to complement each other rather than emphasis differences. However, I almost felt as though there wasn't quite enough explanation at times and I found myself with a lot of questions about exactly how the world worked or how the different elements worked together. The methods of travel in these worlds was both extremely compelling and rather confusing to me at the same time, which, as you might expect, has left me completely unsure how I feel about it as well. It's a really neat concept, I just wish there was more about it.

Our main character and POV is Csorwe, an Orc girl who has been raised to play the sacrificial role to her good at the religious order where she lives. As expected, certain unexpected events occur, ones including a charismatic and unpredictable character named Belthandros Sethennai, and Csorwe ends up in a world and position that she could have never anticipated and where she begins to learn new and exciting things. I really liked Csorwe's development over the course of the story and how she was able to slowly grow her confidence to a point where, although not necessarily the most confident being ever, she still managed to improve her life and outlook on herself. The only problem I had with Csorwe was that I found her character slightly inconsistent. In the beginning, she comes across as rather meek, but at the same time she sounded almost bold in certain situations that didn't quite make sense. I couldn't ever figure out who she was and what her true personality was. I'm finding it hard to describe exactly where I felt the disconnect with her character, but it was always present and made it difficult for me to fully become invested in her.

The biggest problem I had with this book was the pacing. There are a couple big time jumps in this book that I understand and know their purpose, but they completely threw off the pacing and I felt jilted out of the story each time. This is one of the reasons why I could never quite connect with Csorwe since just when I started to get to know her at one point in time, we would jump forward in time to when she had developed further in ways that I didn't know about because I never saw the development. This book felt like it could have been split into two books, which would have provided more time to go into detail about some world-building elements while also expanding more on the character development. By incorporating so many distinct and separate plots (separate int he sense that a new main setting is prominent, essentially), the story never felt fully coherent and it was something that made me struggle to enjoy this as much as I could have if it flowed together better.

This sort of seems like it could be a standalone, so whether or not I continue with the series will simply depend on what the premise of the next book is and if it sounds interesting to me. I'm not overly hooked on this world and I don't have a huge desire to read more, but at the same time I'd love to see the world explained more and I wouldn't mind continuing if it sounds worth it. And as an additional note to those who wonder: there are hints of a romance, but it is fairly minimal and doesn't explicitly overtake the plot at all, though one could make inferences to how it might actually affect the plot a lot more than it seems.

Overall, I've settled on 3.75 stars. I definitely recommend this to anyone who is interested because I think a lot of people will love it, but there were just too many things that threw me off in one way or another for me to fully enjoy it.

*I received a copy of The Unspoken Name courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to tackle this very soon, and I'll definitely keep some of your opinions in mind when I start. I don't usually mind time jumps if they make sense, so we shall see😁