Reviews

The Unspoken Name, by A.K. Larkwood

noveltea_reads's review

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3.75

i both liked this book and did not like this book at the same time

characters and lore of the world were cool but honestly, the plot and pacing were all over the place. each part was resolved so easily. and the plot relied constantly on the “your enemy interrupts your plan” device. 

but i will 100% read the next book 😆

ohallows's review against another edition

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3.0

it was really good for the first half but the latter half really dragged and the plot got very complicated without a lot of solid world building to fall back on. still enjoyed it, but probably won't be reading the sequel.

piranhapudel's review against another edition

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5.0

Hach, ich fand dieses Buch genial! Tolles, neuartiges Worldbuilding und coole Charaktere, die ich mochte, eben weil sie teilweise so scheiße zueinander waren.

waleska's review against another edition

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3.0

2.5 ⭐️ Este libro fue una decepción. Tal vez fue que mis expectativas fueron muy altas pero al terminar el libro me quedé con más dudas de las que pensé. La autora hizo un excelente trabajo con los personajes, en mi opinión, y por lo general eso es suficiente para mi. Pero me hubiera gustado que describiera el sistema de magia y las culturas un poco más.

annelycemcg's review against another edition

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adventurous slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

2.5

literaryyarns's review against another edition

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this had so much promise but fell flat... just one (1) character with a personality would be acceptable. messy pacing and too complex - so unfortunate as it feels like there are lots of cool ideas with great potential that just need refining 

noahczerny's review against another edition

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2.0

find this review & others on my blog

The premise of “queer orc assassins and magical intrigue” had me clamoring to read “the Unspoken Name”, but the novel’s offerings left me unmoved, and about a quarter through the story, that initial cheeriness fell from my face, like a person slipping into sleep. Once my mind started to meander and the boredom glazed my eyes and I had to squint the words into focus, every page feeling like a heavy stone lifted with terrible effort and dropped again and again to the ground, I knew I had to call it a DNF (at 67%).

Structurally, The Unspoken Name is not necessarily a total success. The novel is packed to the brim with world-building, much of it is very chewy—with a few random elements winding up being huge red herrings—but little of it is actually convincing. I struggled with the opening sections, where much happens, and little is explained, but I resolved to wait patiently for the relief of having my questions answered.

That relief never really came. The novel pulls itself in too many directions at once. The plot unfolds in fits and starts, and we rocket from one destination to the next, with no time to breathe and fully contemplate a new facet of the world. There’s a substantial amount of logistical hand-waving too, and several time jumps configured so haphazardly throughout that it felt like half of the book's action took place out of sight. This approach might be expedient for the plot, but it feels too easy, too convenient, leaving gaps too wide to be darned, and making all that has unfolded devoid of a clear rhyme and reason.

This inconsistency is made more complicated by the introduction of new characters, and a sense that the author has bitten off a little more than the story can chew. Though their inclusion eventually makes sense, it feels somewhat... holey in the storytelling department early on.

I struggle to remember any distinctive trait about the characters, like meeting someone before and mutually agreeing to forget about it. Csorwe clearly gasps for more oxygen on the page—more often than not, she comes off as silent and drab, set apart from the violence of her emotions, like the whole story could have happened without her. There is a divide between a before and an after, a line drawn through Csorwe’s life. The before: the Unspoken Name hanging over her, bright and sharp as a sword, aimed at her tearing flesh, and Csorwe readying herself to die in the shrine of her patron god, with nothing of her own. The after: an exiled wizard named Sethennai, and a purpose: to help him find the Reliquary of Pentravesse. Csorwe’s life, like a door, closed, and another opened elsewhere. But this new door seemed to only lead her to a another world where she, once again, hung on by a single filament of purpose that wasn’t her own. And while I hold no particular fondness for Sethennai, his motivations at least are not unexplainable. They are aggravatingly practical—driven by greed, and magnified by a desire to impress his significance upon the world. But Csorwe’s actions never attain the same moral stakes, and the novel's ethics ultimately feel confused.

The novel’s biggest flaw, however—and what really kicked me out of its pages—is that the flow of the story is freighted with a distant, impassive kind of writing that I really did not care for. Alone, this would not have been a deal-breaking quibble, but it just added to the overall impression that “The Unspoken Name” was lacking. Even the potential of a sapphic romance couldn’t keep the book in my good graces, and if you know me, you’ll know there’s not much I can’t forgive for the promise of sapphic content.

I rarely ever not finish a book. Something about exiting stories, while unfinished, nags at me like an itch that needs to be scratched. But I needn’t worry about “The Unspoken Name”, because the story quickly evaporated, like dew from a morning leaf.

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spiringempress's review against another edition

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3.0

"Here I am, she thought. This is me, in two weeks' time. Here I am, walking up to the Shrine. This is the end. This is how it will feel at the end. Thy name shall be forsaken and thou shalt be my bride."

Truly 3.5 stars. Since she was a child, Csorwe has been promised to the Unspoken One. On her fourteenth birthday, she is supposed to venture up to the Unspoken One's Shrine and disappear in the mysterious caverns to face whatever fate has in store for her. However, on that day, Csorwe is presented with an unexpected option. A powerful mag named Sethennai offers to take her away from the shrine and venture around the world with him.

Forsaking the Unspoken One, Csorwe accompanies Sethennai as he faces off with his opponent, Olthaaros, and becomes skilled with a blade and in skills of deception. However, as she grows older, Csorwe begins to question Sethennai's intentions as someone from her past reappears and reveals that Sethennai only wanted to prove the Unspoken One false. Swept up in a quest to find an ancient artifact for Sethennai, Csorwe strikes out on her one and discovers more herself and the Unspoken One, who has not forgotten about her.

There are elements of The Unspoken Name that captivated my attention immediately. The premise is intriguing and I loved reading about Csorwe's origin as the bride of the Unspoken One. I also really liked the unexpected twist of her refusing to be sacrificed and accepting Sethennai's offer. I was keenly invested in the first half of the book, where Csorwe travels around with Sethennai and learns some new skills. However, the book slowly lost me when it skipped forward in time and Csorwe was an adult. When I started reading the book, I thought it would move at a much slower pace and it would follow Csorwe as she grew into an adult. Instead, it skipped a lot of the progression and it felt like the author cheated us out of some essential character development.

As a result, it created a dissonance between the two. I understood Csorwe as a child/young adult and her motivations, but when the book moved forward in time, I no longer recognized the adult Csorwe, who seemed foreign to me. Instead of bridging the gap between the two, Larkwood moved forward with an action-filled plot as Csorwe looked for an ancient artifact and rescued Shuthmili and outwitted her master. However, I was no longer invested in the story or the characters because this section of the book felt like it could belong to a second volume. In this way, I can understand why some like the book and others do not. For those, who like action-filled plots, this book is perfect, but for those intrigued by the character and the world-building, the change in pace is hard to overlook.

judy_bellatrix's review against another edition

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adventurous medium-paced
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

3.0

nwhyte's review against another edition

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5.0

https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/3799033.html

I found it really grew on me - a total sword and sorcery saga with young protagonists in deadly magical combat while also exploring their own sexuality (in a totally discreet way); loyalties shift for entirely understandable reasons, even villains turn out to have depth and complexity, and by the end I was very ready for more. Larkwood gets my vote