Book Review – Given by Nandi Taylor



by Nandi Taylor
Publisher: Wattpad Books
Release Date: January 21st 2020

Genre: Fantasy


A subversive fantasy-romance steeped in West-African and Caribbean traditions.

Yenni has never been this far from home. With only her wits, her strength and her sacred runelore, the fierce Yirba warrior princess is alone in the Empire of Cresh. It’s a land filled with strange magics and even stranger people—many of whom mistrust anyone who’s different. But Yenni will prove herself, and find a cure for her father’s wasting illness. She will not fail.

No one warned her about the dragons. Especially not about him.

Yes, there is something powerful and compelling about the violet-black dragon known as Weysh. In human form he’s muscular, beautiful—and completely infuriating. What kind of arrogant creature claims a stranger as his Given; as his destined mate? Yenni is no man’s—or dragon’s—plaything. But other magics must be at work here, because Weysh might just be her best hope at finding the answers she seeks.

Only now Yenni can’t tell if she’s fighting her attraction to a dragon…or fighting fate itself.


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45734870-given

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2phsmfM

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/given-nandi-taylor/1131555809#/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781989365045

Bookdepository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Given-Nandi-Taylor/9781989365045


Yenni Ajani, the chieftains daughter, has never travelled off her Island. But with her father becoming sick and their healers having no idea of the cause Yenni knows she has to be strong and travel alone to Cresh to learn all she can about the disease plaguing her father. But nobody warned her that in Cresh Dragons still exist, and certainly nobody warned her about the concept of a Given. When Weysh her supposed ‘Given’ practically claims her it takes all of Yenni’s strength not to kill him on the spot. However, as they get to know each other Yenni realises that Weysh might be her best hope to finding answers about the disease. But with them spending time together feelings begin to develop and Yenni must decide between what’s best for her people and what her heart wants.

Yenni Ajani is a headstrong character, not afraid to speak her mind and back on the Moonrise Isle’s people listen. The only problem is the Chreshans see the islanders as ‘less’ and almost archaic in their ways. Seeing her overcome these trials and tribulations made for an intriguing read, and I loved that she never faltered in her beliefs. She is though, a young girl, and with that comes all the romance, hurt feelings and the feeling of not really belonging. I really enjoyed following her journey. Weysh was a character I truly disliked at first, and though he grew on me, I still wasn’t his biggest fan at the end. His belief that because Yenni Ajani is his Given she should drop everything to become his wife and sire his one Dragon child made him come across as entitled and sexist. Through talking to his friends and Yenni he comes to see the error of his ways, though there are some definite tantrums along the way.

I found the premise for this book slightly deceiving. Does Yenni travel to Cresh? Yes. Does she meet Weysh, her Given? Yes. However, there is no mention of the magic school in which the character spend the majority of the book studying in. I enjoyed this part of the book ( always love a good magic school) and liked the authors descriptions of the classes and different types of magic they learn. I found the magic system quite intriguing. With a rather simplistic design, the magic on Cresh comes from spoken words i.e, “source drawn rain dry up and cease’ would remove water from a person’s being and space around them. The magic on the Moonrise isles is something different. Yenni’s people use Runes to control their magic. They sing wordless songs while applying a special paste to their skin and use these to give them speed, less pain etc. I liked seeing the clash between the two types of magic and Yenni’s struggle to learn a whole new concept was reminiscent to people having to learn a completely new language.

We see a few subjects being addressed in different ways. Racism with Yenni being seen as quaint and archaic for using Rune’s instead of Creshan magic. Her people are seen as lesser and she struggles through a good chunk of the book with overcoming this ideal. There are also hints of Colonisation with the Creshan people controlling the empire, including the Islands where Yenni lives and forcing their ideals and magic style onto others. The author uses her West African and Caribbean culture to show the differences between the people, you could read it in the different dialects, and in how they dressed/acted.

The romance in this book was a bit too quick for me. I felt that Yenni went from having absolutely no feelings towards Weysh, except for maybe wanting to push him off a cliff, to admitting to him and herself her romantic feelings. Whether this was to do with them being ‘Given’ (she had no choice in the matter etc) I don’t know but it felt like she did an almost 360 in the span of a few pages.

Overall I enjoyed this book. Would I run out to buy the sequel if there is one, probably not. But I am intrigued to see where the story goes. 3.5*

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