The Unspoken Name
The Unspoken Nameby A.K. Larkwood
4 out of 5
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.
Csorwe never doubts her duty as a sacrificial lamb, until a mysterious stranger offers the chance at life. Csorwe will become a loyal warrior and spy, until an encounter with an unusual woman makes her question what she really wants.
I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Csorwe (pronounced like 'doorway') is a young orc priestess, and she has been chosen to serve as the Unspoken One's vessel and will be sacrificed when she turns fourteen. She is content with her life, and it committed to the sacrifice, until Sethennai comes along and puts the idea into her head that she has a choice.
On the day of her sacrifice, Csorwe decides that she wants to live and see more of the world than her humble temple.
It is never discussed, why Sethennai decided to take pity on this girl, and stole away a god's chosen bride; but Csorwe is trained to fight, she is trained to see what others miss, and how to blend in and become unnoticeable.
Feeling that she owes him, Csorwe becomes loyal to Sethennai, she is duty-bound to help him in all of his ventures, starting with reclaiming his seat of power from a usurper.
The narrative is also split between Sethennai, his rival/lover Oranna, Csorwe's rival/rival Tal, and magic-user Shuthmili.
The characters are all well-rounded, they all have their own hopes and secrets.
I really liked the hate/mildly-less-hate relationship between Csorwe and Tal. It provided a lot of humour and definitely added to the character. They're like squabbling siblings who never get along, but defend each other because no one else is allowed to hurt them.
And then there was the relationship between Csorwe and Shuthmili...
I think Larkwood did a great job in all the diverse characters, and I loved how their sexuality was so matter-of-fact. The world(s) that have been created are all very accepting.
The developing friendship-to-romance between and Shuthmili was perfect. It was hinted and and made the storyline so much stronger.
I thought the story was quite slow to get going. In hindsight, it all helped to establish Csorwe's story, but it was hard to get into at first. Later on, it all picked up and I was hooked for the most part.
In the latter half of the book, I thought the plot jumped around a little, seeming to come to a natural conclusion several times throughout the book, before continuing. Again, hindsight is a wonderful thing, I can say that actually, yes, the route the plot took did make the story stronger in the end; but at the time I was rolling my eyes at certain points. Instead of taking the logical step, character X would decide to throw it all away, because Y.
Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot, and I look forward to the rest of the series.