A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.
The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.
Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.
Holy Cow! This book is Fantasy at its best. Samantha Shannon manages to weave a world so intricate and original it sweep’s you along effortlessly, and before you’ve even realised it’s epic 848 pages have flown by.
I will admit to being slightly put off by the sheer size of this book, however, I needn’t have worried. Shannon’s effortless storytelling had my flying through the pages and before I even realised I was 70% of the way through. I actually slowed down because I didn’t want it to end. I have long been a fan of Shannon’s writing style, but this book simply knocks it out of the park. The world building is the absolute best I have read, possibly ever. Her fantasy world is so complex you almost believe its real, she builds upon the folklore of the different nation’s with the characters own storytelling, and you easily get swept away in the magic and mystery of her creation. I’ve never been swept into a world that has been built so completely and It didn’t let go easily.
The story follows characters from the East and West as they learn that their mortal enemy, The Nameless One, is rising again. Thought to be bound by the Berethnet line, Queen Sabran is put under pressure to produce an heir to keep him at bay. Ean Duryan, though unbelieving that the Berethnet line is the only thing holding the Nameless one at bay, is placed in Sabran’s court to ensure no harm comes to the Queen before she produces an heir. Tane, training to become a Dragon Rider in the East is unaware of the role she will play in the war, she is simply trying not to get caught after letting a foreigner into the city potentially allowing the Draconic Plague in, an act that is punishable by death. Through the different perspectives we learn the true story of the binding of the Nameless one, and that though enemies in their own right, it might take a alliance between the Dragon hating West and the Dragon worshipping East to defeat the Nameless one for good.
The characters in this book are brought to life so effortlessly on the page. Though it shifts between multiple viewpoints, each character’s voice is so unique they leap off the page, and you’re never unsure who’s story is being told. Ead was an easy favourite of mine, a spy in the court of Queen Sabran, sent by the Priory to ensure the Berethnet line does not end with her. Her story line is one I followed with an avid interest, seeing her loyalty to the Priory and her fellow sister’s waver as she fall’s in love with the unlikeliest of people.
The representation in this book is truly top notch.The main romance arc through this book was f/f, and there is also a side romance told through a characters memories that is m/m. The romance is written beautifully and I found myself so invested in its outcome. The main characters are all women, and kick-ass women at that, and although there are male narrators, they do play a side line to the female character arc’s. There is very little, if any, female vying against female that is so prevalent in books nowadays, and this made the book such a breath of fresh air.
I don’t think giving this book 5/5 is enough to describe just how much I loved it. One of the main selling points for me was that it was a stand-alone, and I knew I wouldn’t have to wait a year before reading the next part of the story… I’ve now changed my mind! I need more books in this world, I need to know what happens to all the characters, one of which is left with an unsure ending. I would compare the world that Samantha created to that of Tolkien and George R R Martin… except better because women are the elite! I know this book may give some of you heart palpitations looking at the sheer size of it, but I can promise you that as soon as you start reading you wont want to put it down.