**We were gifted a copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own**
This year I decided that I’d like to read more books with LGBTQ+ representation as I have come across so many people within the book community raving about so many titles. One of the new releases for 2020 in this genre that caught my eye late last year was The Unspoken Name by A.K.Larkwood and I have been highly anticipating it’s publication ever since. However, thanks to the wonderful Jamie-Lee and Tor Books I didn’t have to wait quite as long as they kindly gifted me an ARC copy. So with publication day only a few weeks away I thought it was about time I got round to sharing my thoughts on this forthcoming release!
About The Book
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.
Having been abandoned as a child Csorwe has grown up within the cult of the Unspoken One, always knowing that on the dawn of her fourteenth Birthday she is destined to walk into the mysterious shrine as a virginal sacrifice to their God. She has always known and accepted her fate, as those who have been offered before her did, but on the day of her death she is offered a choice……continue to certain death or take the chance to live.
Seizing the opportunity, Csorwe becomes apprentice to mystical Wizard Sethennal, learning the skills she’ll need to succeed in her quest to find the elusive Reliquary of Pentravesse for her new master. With the lure of discovering the legacy and knowledge of the great Pentravesse inside, the Reliquary promises to give it’s owner the ability to wield the greatest power in the land. With so much at stake Csorwe has a lot to prove and to say it won’t be easy is an understatement.
This debut novel offers a mix of fantasy meets sci-fi and is truly like nothing I have read before. This is the first book in the new Serpents Gate trilogy and Larkwood has taken a great deal of time to create and effort an imaginative world that just blew me away with her detailed and incredible world building. With highly descriptive prose throughout I was drawn in and completely absorbed in the worlds and landscapes described, clearly able to visualise each and every scene vividly.
If I’m honest when I first started reading this book I found the first few chapters a little hard going as I got to grips with the descriptive writing style and the unusual place and character names – despite a very useful pronunciation guide at the front of the book. However, please do not let this dissuade you from picking this book up as I quickly realised that every word Larkwood has written is necessary to bring the rich tapestry of this epic story to life.
There are a host of well developed believable characters that help bring this story to life and I particularly enjoyed the LGBTQ+ representation. The book as a whole didn’t categorise or pigeon hole relationships of any kind allowing the queer love interests ‘normalised’ as opposed to an exception – something that really needs to be touched upon and utilised in other books.
The story itself would be impossible to summarise in a few lines as it’s such a fast paced tale filled with action, magic and religion that literally had me on the edge of my seat at times. The Unspoken Name was an excellent read that I had been highly anticipating and it lived up to my expectation, and then some! A truly spectacular work that explores love, loyalty, friendship and betrayal, all set against a dystopian backdrop – just perfect. It’s extremely difficult to believe that this is Larkwood’s debut novel as her writing style is so mature and well-developed like that of a more seasoned writer and I am extremely excited to follow this series to see how her writing develops as well as follow Csorwe’s story.
About The Author
A.K. Larkwood studied English at St John’s College, Cambridge. She has worked in higher education and media relations, and is now studying law. She lives in Oxford, England with her wife and a cat. The Unspoken Name is he debut novel.