What this book is about:
Jura finds herself in the terrifying position of sitting in her father’s chair as First of the Thirteen, trying to hide a terrible secret from the rest of the untrustworthy, backstabbing rulers. Ash, a retired Fire Dancer, searches to find his new place in life and the arena when seven-year-old Kay is introduced to him. Tylak, the slave, is sentenced to die as Jura’s first major decision as the First, but maybe he has skills she could use.
This and SO much more!
I struggled to know what to write here because, honestly? I wanted to write ALL THE THINGS, but I settled for sticking pretty close to the back cover blurb of the story.
Most books have just a few short pages to really grab the reader and this story does it – from the description of Jura’s clothes to how she fiddles with her glasses – I felt connected to her immediately and I actually cared about her terror of sitting in the seat.
What I liked:
- Ummm… everything? No, that doesn’t count. But seriously, everything.
- Characters: Well rounded, fleshed out, consistent, and realistic. The plot, while full of action, is mostly propelled forward by character. We stick in Jura’s POV throughout the book, and this gives us a glimpse into the world. Living in the tension of not knowing whether some characters are good buys or bad guys was really fun and even at the end of the book, it’s still questionable whether certain characters are good guys or just bad guys in a really clever disguise. There are several main characters, but I never felt lost between who was who, which can happen in these larger cast novels. Great care was taken to ensure the clarity of the characters and how they each fit into the plot.
- Plot: This plot moves from the first page. I was hooked by page 3. It moves and things are explained (like what the Thirteen is) without having major blocks of infodump. The pacing is superb, I never felt it drag down at any point. There was no unnecessary dialogue or descriptions and I didn’t skim (which, truthfully, I can be really prone to do if the story isn’t grabbing me).
- The world itself – While we only see a small part of this world, it’s clear that the rest of world has been fleshed out. Other parts of the world are referenced by various characters and it’s all consistent.
What I didn’t like:
- When the story ended. There was so much going on in the story and I just wanted to read and read and read… I’d probably have to read it again to try to find something I didn’t like.
Overall thoughts and opinions:
Go. Buy. This. Book.
I’ve finally been stealing time away to read again over the past few months and of ALL the books I’ve read and reviewed, I can only think of three others that I read in one day, they were just THAT good. This book is right up in that league.
The characters are relatable, but not annoying in their incompetencies, and yet are so human. I found myself feeling attached to nearly every character (so you better not kill a bunch of them off!) because of the way they were introduced or what they had done. I was invested in their decisions and more than once, found myself yelling “NO!!” in my head as I watched them do something that they probably shouldn’t have.
I read the first few chapters when I had an hour and half alone and then spent the rest of the day basically ignoring everything that wasn’t providing food for my toddlers. This is the quality of storytelling I wish EVERY book had – the kind that helps you completely submerge into the world and want to ignore everything else for the time it takes to read.
When the book comes out, you better believe I’ll be putting it on my own shelf and EAGERLY awaiting my chance to read Submerged, the next book in the series.
Every fantasy novel has a learning curve and this one is manageable. The opening few pages are lot of “what is going on?” but not in a bad way. Sometimes you read a book and feel totally lost for a long time, but this wasn’t like that. Some authors (myself included) can have a terrible habit of the infodump – where everything you need to know for the next four chapters is dumped onto a page or two, pausing all action going on. Thankfully, this story doesn’t do it. The information is parsed out in a way that adds to the story and doesn’t interrupt it.
If you like series with nicely wrapped up endings in each book, well, you’ll be pretty disappointed. The action ends on a fairly high point and I LOVED it, except for the part where I DIDN’T have the next book to read yet.
I was told this book has been a four year labor of love and it shows. The attention to detail is impeccable, the characters, the storyline – it all fits together beautifully and gives me hope that I’m not taking too long to write my own novel. Take the time to write well because seriously, when you do, THIS is what happens.
I give this book an enthusiastic FIVE stars!
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