Reviews tagging Death

The Unspoken Name, by A.K. Larkwood

11 reviews

local_hat's review against another edition

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adventurous medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

This is the first book in a long time that I sank in to and devoured within about 24 hours. At least the pannacotta didn't totally take that away.

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bluejayreads's review

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4.75

There seems to be a theme lately of me picking up long books with low expectations and actually enjoying them a lot. I was intrigued by the protagonist raised to be a human sacrifice and then deciding not to die, but that back cover didn't seem like it would be worth a whole 18 hours of audiobook. 

In a way, I was right. The entire plot on the back cover is done 65 minutes into the book - I actually looked at the timestamp because I couldn't believe it was so fast. The beginning skims though Csorwe's time at the temple of the Unspoken one, blazes though her choice, and covers two years in a matter of minutes (literally 2% of the book, I checked the timestamp). It was moving too fast for me to really care about much that was going on, interesting ideas be damned, and the only reason I didn't stop there was because I didn't want to get in trouble if I got caught having my phone out long enough to queue up another book. 

But by the time I went on break and could have dropped this book and started a new one, I didn't want to. Nearly an hour and a half in, the meat of the story finally started. 

This is the book I switched out with The Body Keeps the Score (since I could only read that one two hours at a time and I needed something to fill the other six hours of a workday), and alternating the two makes for a heck of a reading experience. It's never explicitly mentioned and I don't even know if the author intended it, but Csorwe displays so many characteristics of an abused child. And none of the abuse is physical. Growing up as a destined sacrifice, it was lack of caring and connection and being told since she was old enough to understand that it was her duty to die and that's what all the adults in her life wanted for her. After her escape, it was psychological and emotional (unless you count putting her in dangerous situations as physical abuse) from Belthandros Sethennai, the wizard who rescued her and who hits 8 of the 9 diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. And she genuinely loves him because she believes him convincing her not to become a human sacrifice means she owes him her life. 

For something that seems like it should be a rollicking fantasy adventure and has so many wizard duels, creepy cultists, and fantasy settings, it is surprisingly character-driven. In fact, it is almost entirely character-driven. The only thing that could really be called a plot is that Belthandros wants a phylactery and uses Csorwe as one of his tools to get it. That doesn't really sound like enough to fill 18 hours, but it's also full of dead worlds, ancient crypts, snake goddesses, prison fortresses, reluctant allies, and a very sweet romance between Csorwe and an adorable research nerd in a similar situation to Csorwe before she met Belthandros. It was quite enough to keep me interested and engaged. 

I have a ton of things I want to say, but considering that the entire back cover plot wraps up 5% of the way through the book, saying much more is probably a spoiler. The beginning was very rough, but after that I enjoyed it thoroughly. I didn't know there was a sequel going in, and I don't even know what it's going to be about, but I love Csorwe, I enjoy her love interest, I thoroughly enjoy exploring all the weird and wonderful and eerie places that exist in this world, and I bet I will enjoy book two. 

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therainbowshelf's review against another edition

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adventurous dark mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

This is the kind of book that made me ask "what was the point of everything else, then?" more than once. It is a pretty epic story, and I enjoyed having queer characters simply exist without their queerness being a major point of contention. This book wasn't for me (I thought for sure it would be!), but it's an excellent read

📚 The gist 📚: When a mysterious stranger rescues Csorwe from a sacrificial death, she devotes her new life to his murky quest. 

📒Representation📒 wlw mc, mlm sc

💕 For readers looking for 💕: epic fantasy, multiple worlds, morally ambiguous and ancient gods, LGBTQ characters, magic, assassins

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booksandbodylib's review

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adventurous dark emotional sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

This is the perfect book to finish my 2021 reading challenge on. I absolutely loved this!!! It will definitely not be everyone's cup of tea, but my god, it was mine! All the cups!!! Dark, eerie, queerie (hehehe), and character-driven with the most epic world-building. Csorwe and Shuthmilie are everything and Tal??? He adds that levity that balances it all out. It sort of gave me Senera/Relos Var from the A Chorus of Dragons series by Jenn Lyons vibes, which is HIGH PRAISE. I cannot wait for The Thousand Eyes. 

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candidceillie's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.75


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kamreadsandrecs's review against another edition

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adventurous sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

... there’s truly something wonderful in this novel. The world, the characters, the plot, the themes – all have immense promise. But sadly, they are all smothered by the writing style, which muffles and dims the parts that ought to be memorable and striking. There are stories, of course, that suit such dry and deadpan delivery, but that style does not serve this novel well at all. Where the reader ought to be drawn in close to the characters, ought to inhabit the setting, ought to be moved by the plot or ponder upon the themes, they are instead set back at a distance, observing everything with dispassion. This is not exactly something I want to feel from a fantasy novel, and I’m sure there are plenty of other readers who would agree. 

Full review here: https://wp.me/p21txV-KE

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laurajones's review

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adventurous tense medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes

5.0


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kelseyland's review

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adventurous dark medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

Remarkable world-building + sharp, engaging writing + LGBT rep = the high fantasy novel of my dreams.

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invaderday's review against another edition

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adventurous dark tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

it took me a while to get into this book. it can be a bit dense in places, but eventually i did really get into it and i ended up having a lot of fun, especially with the second half of the book!

i LOVE the gay/lesbian hostility of csorwe and tal. they have such a unique relationship that i really really enjoyed seeing. i love lesbian novels but so many of them tend to ignore or underplay the existence of men (which can be fine! i understand not always wanting to have men in ur escapism) but it was refreshing to see not just a lesbian main character and love interest but a gay man supporting character, and several other gay and bisexual characters of varying importance. it made it a lot more fun for me- some of it was pretty standard fantasy stakes, but the fact that almost every single relevant character was gay just added that extra flavor that i really needed so thank u ak larkwood!!

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samespelho's review

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adventurous emotional mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

I spent a long time with this book, mostly because I was not in a big reading mood in the last couple of weeks, but also a bit because this wasn't a very easy novel to get into. There were some time skips and structure decisions that I found arguable. However, for the most part I really enjoyed the book. The main character, Csorwe, was an interesting lead who went through considerable growth over the course of the story, and there were plenty of other compelling characters. Where the novel really shines is the setting: a Planescape-reminiscent multiverse with cool magic, gods, wonders, and numerous mysteries to discover. I also really enjoyed seeing so many queer characters just having adventures, their arcs not being all about their queerness.

There are some weak parts where the author quite obviously struggles to find her voice and to choose the right structural frame for all the events, but this kind of thing is something I expect from a debut. Overall, The Unspoken Name is packed with plenty of cool ideas, and I'm curious to see where the series goes next.

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