I’d heard a lot of great things about this book so when I saw it in my local library, I couldn’t not pick it up. I knew very little about the plot of the book and the synopsis gave me very little information apart from two character’s names and the general gist of the world. In essance, I went into this book blind. And I think that that is a good way to approach this book. It would be considered a dystopian however their are huge fantasy, romance and political elements to this story as well. I also think that Marie Rutkoski excuted this story pretty well and I think she is a up-and-coming author that we need to watch out for.
This book is based in a dystopian society where the Valorians have vast armies, wealth and power whereas the once influential Herrani serve as slaves to the ruling Valorians. Kestrel Trajian is the daugter of a General who is a hugely unfluential figure in Valorian society. She knows that she has two pathways which her life can take: get married and raise a family or join the military alongside her father. But Kestrel has other ideas. The fatal purchase of Arin at a local slave auction sends Kestrel’s life into a whirlwind of intirigue, deadly plots and powerful forces beyond Kestrel’s control. A mistake could ruin everything. What sacrifices is Kestrel prepared to make to save everything she loves?
Firstly, I really enjoyed the world. It was a little confusing at first to learn about these two completley different cultures but I really enjoyed the contrasts between the cultures and the history and grudges that the opposing sides against each other. I wish there had been a map added to the front of the book because it would have been a huge help in visualising the layout of the world as there is a lot of place names being thrown about and not much context about where they are in relation to each other. The two different cultures are both very interesting and I’m really excited to learn more about them in the two following books of this trilogy.
Also, I loved the plot and writing style. The plot is fast-paced and exciting and the engaging writing style literaly has you flipping the page to know what happens next. I really enjoyed the moments when Kestrel is alone and has to make her own decsions because it shows just how intelligent and brave a character she really is.
However, I did have some problems. I really enjoyed and appreciated all of the characters, especially Kestrel’s relationship with her two friends Jess and Ronan, but I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters. I couldn’t really sympathise with any of them and I didn’t really feel that bothered about any of them. I know that this is only the first book and there is a lot more room for character development but I was a little disappointed on how little I was connected to the characters.
Secondly, I had a couple of quite signifiant problems with the ending. I really liked the beginning, and I loved the middle, but I felt that the story began spiralling away at the end. The plot completley disappeared and I didn’t really understand what was happening or the choices that were being made. I didn’t really understand the significance of what was happening and nothing was added to the story: it was just a lot of discription of running through mountains and feeling cold. I also feel that the ending was rushed and that nothing was explained properly. The relationships between the characters became confused and I still don’t understand why they acted towards the other characters the way that they did.
Overall, I feel that this story had a lot of promise and for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll definitley be continuing on with this trilogy and I’m excited to see what more develops about the world and the characters. I think that Marie Rutkoski has a lot of promise and I’ll be looking out for her in the future. I’d give this book a 4 out of 5 stars and if you’re looking for a different kind of dystopian, then I’d recommend that you pick this one up.