Reviews

The Gilded Ones, by Namina Forna

piperhill's review against another edition

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adventurous dark 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

cathman's review

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4.0

"Who better to fight a monster than another monster?"

Deka has been waiting for this day - the Ritual of Purity, when she and the other sixteen-year-old girls in the village of Irfut will be tested to see if their blood runs pure. Maybe afterwards, she'll be treated more like she belongs, instead of the exclusion she feels due to the dark Southern skin she inherited from her mother. But as she stands with her father in line, deathshrieks arrive. Gaunt creatures with clawed hands dragging by their knees, spiked spines, and black eyes, their cries damage and even kill. They are known to attack villages, stealing impure girls. Deka feels a tingling before they show themselves and attack, and when, desperate, she yells at the creatures to leave, they do so. This sets off alarms for the village elders, who have Deka killed, and she watches as her blood flows, golden.

She awakens, imprisoned, to accusations of being impure, a demon. The elders continue to have her killed, harvesting the gold blood spilled, until a woman arrives for Deka one day. White Hands, as Deka names her based on her gauntlets, offers her a chance. Deka is an alaki - worthless, unwanted, sentenced to death. But White Hands has been sent by the emperor to recruit alaki into an army to combat the deathshrieks at Otera's borders. They are amassing at their primal nesting ground, and the best army are those who can heal from almost any death. Each alaki has one method of death that will cause their final death, but any other method is simply an almost death, from which the alaki will heal during the one to two week long gilded sleep. The elders have proven during her imprisonment that Deka's true death is not beheading, burning, drowning, hanging, poisoning, stoning, disembowling, bloodletting, or even dismemberment. With nothing left for her in Irfut and the promise of absolution after 20 years of fighting, Deka agrees. That is how she finds herself at the Warthu Bera, training alongside other alaki and the uruni, their brothers-in-arms, learning about her powers, and discovering why her mother wore a necklace with the insignia of the okai, the emperor's spies.

I loved the friendships formed in this book (though I'll admit since I read it a little quickly I did sometimes confuse some of the secondary characters). Women in this world are required to wear a mask covering the face from forehead to nose, and are severely limited in opportunities. Everyone has to learn to support one another while they fight side by side. A couple of surprising plot twists in this (I was actually mulling over some possibilities while I was flossing last night and something similar to the actual plot popped into my head and I had to stop and think about it). Fast-paced and wrapped up nicely - I see it's projected to be a trilogy, though I could honestly just see it ending here. I would have to see the description for the sequel to say whether or not I would read it. This one could be interesting for fans of Sorcery of Thorns or Children of Blood and Bone. Also, what a gorgeous cover!

Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for the eARC. The Gilded Ones will be published February 9 2021.

morriganslibrary's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional mysterious tense fast-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? It's complicated

3.5

lil's review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional

4.5

mrpitmansgranddaughter's review

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4.0

I wish teenage me had this book. This is a beautiful and clever book, a story told to inspire and remind us that we can be our own heroes.

Initially sold on the cover and then the premise of this book I had high hopes, and it absolutely lived up to it. The time flew by with this book and included me emerging from the bath the most wrinkled I have ever been. On the surface this is a great Young Adult Fantasy book but underneath that is a book exploring a patriarchal land and is packed full of female fist pumps. Putting that aside this book represents girls, different girls. Refreshingly so.

So what is there to say about this book, is inclusive and its feminist and its a great story and lovable and complicated characters. It gets the imagination flying with new creatures and landscapes, breath holding moments, page turning action. It packs a big punch. It’s a big cast of characters but that doesn’t dampen the impact, we know each of them and I hope in the upcoming sequels we get to know them more.

My only teeny tiny criticism is that I could have lived without the romance sub plot, but hey I know teenage me would have absolutely loved it and maybe I am just cynical these days. Even though it wasn’t my favourite element of the story it was still well done and I ended up rooting for them although the sisterhood represented in this book for me felt like the real love story.

I can’t wait for the following books and recommend this read to those of us who love to escape to new worlds and to teenage girls and boys who will find themselves as part of this book.

To close of using the words of Namina Forna in her letter that closes this book ‘To every person reading this book, know that you are the hero of your own story. You can make things happen, and you can change the world. Choose to change the world for good.
To all my teen readers, know that this is a world I’ve created for you. If you can’t find yourself anywhere, find yourself here.’

emmaroot's review

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adventurous dark emotional 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

4.75

I really liked it! 

hunnee_sophie's review

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adventurous challenging inspiring reflective tense fast-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? No

5.0


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mellarkbakery10's review

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5.0

a stunning fantasy tale with strong themes of family, finding inner strength, and feminism, this was so amazing! i really loved all of characters and the family and sisterhood dynamic that was present between them. Deka was definitely my favorite, and i loved and really appreciated all of the growth that she went through in this story, it was amazing to watch her inner strength and confidence grow. Britta was also amazing and so much fun, i really enjoyed how the bond of friendship was the deepest and most focused-on love of this story! Keita is also the sweetest and i loved how unwaveringly supportive he was. one of my favorite parts was the world-building, i felt that it was immersive and expertly constructed, and it balanced being thorough without overwhelming the reader with details. THE PLOT! amazing! i never really knew who to trust, which is something i love as a plot feature, and i think that the plot twists were perfectly timed with little details interspersed earlier in the plot. the pacing was also superb and i found myself flying through the pages and enjoying every second!

loreofthebooks's review

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5.0

THIS BOOK

ellacig's review

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4.0

ok IDK why it took me so long to read this cos it was actually very good and i LOVED deka
it was a bit slow at times and maybe that’s because i’m not as used to YA books anymore HOWEVER the ending was very good and there were some gr8 plot twists