Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2020
|Listened to the audiobook
Content warning for assassination attempts, suicide, ideation, coerced sex work, threats of rape, torture
Talyien’s husband Rayyel walked away from his political and familial duties on the day of her coronation. Five years later, he sends a letter requesting an audience with her in an unfamiliar city. Things go horribly downhill from there.
Some books are character-driven, others are plot-driven, but this one is driven by each and every betrayal. I had such a good time watching Tali fall into some trap, get out of it, get betrayed by someone else, and the loop continues.
The world-building is just superb. There are so many states and countries, and they all co-exist in the same place in a way that feels very authentic. People can tell where others are from by their accents and word choice. The food descriptions are superb. The world feels so lived-in on several layers.
The tone of this book was way quieter than I expected going in. While there is the looming thread of war, war is never present. It is all about a mother trying to reunite with her child’s father and a queen trying to get her political ally back. The voice is absolutely fantastic and all the choices and interactions are complex and morality isn’t ever that simple. Every relationship is complicated , but some are clearly better than others, though it isn’t always obvious.
I am so looking forward to how the events of this book lead into the greater politics of the world. A must-read for fans of intrigue, twists, complicated relationships, and mouth-watering descriptions of Asian cuisine.