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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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  • An okay debut fantasy novel

    The Unspoken Name is a lesson in why beautiful prose just isn’t enough. This is a gorgeous story. It’s written in a vivid (albeit sometimes confusing language) with lots of world building and depth. A. K. Larkwood takes us on an elaborate, lengthy journey where years pass by allowing our characters to grow and change. There is a tension held just below the surface of the story that keeps you flipping pages and wanting to scream at characters to just do things (like kiss, even though the romance is subtle in this)! And yet I didn’t care about a single one of the people in the story; and thus the proof that beautiful prose and an elaborate fantasy story just aren’t enough. Subpar Characters I want to say I cared about our leading gal Csorwe, or the mage that saves her, or any of the numerous people they encounter over the years in this book; but I just didn’t. The opening (Part I and Part II) are interesting enough as we are learning the world (or if you’re me being confused by how the Maze works), encountering new religions, trying to decipher how to say things (there is a pronunciation guide at the start), and keep everything straight (there is also a cast of characters at the start). However as the book progress past those first 100 or so pages and Csorwe ages, develops her skills at being a thief, a spy and an assassin, I came to realize that she could live or die and I kind of didn’t care. The only reason to keep her around was that she was our main character and the story revolved around her. Remote Location A second critical error that Larkwood makes here is taking us from a vibrant, exciting small town with thieves, assassins, magic, competing religions and more; into a remote, boring planet with only 2 other people on it besides our leading lady and her perpetual (it seems) shadow of a partner (that she loves to hate). It was like going from Coruscant or Cloud City to Tatooine or Hoth; instead of the other way around. It just doesn’t have enough depth and excitement (no matter what monsters or magic are thrown at our characters) to compete with the cute little town we encounter early on in the story. Debut Novel It is worth noting that this is a debut fantasy novel. And so for a first publication in fantasy it is actually quite good. But to stand-up next to the many amazing novels written in fantasy over the last 20 years (or even just 10) there is more substance and emotional tie needed to the characters. The world, the magic, the fighting, the religion, and the constructs of society are all good enough to create a series from that is robust. I’m not opposed to reading the next of Larkwood’s books in this land as it is a very intriguing place (especially the Maze!); but I’d like to see Larkwood move into more of the grim dark genre that she teases with. A little more depth in the writing and substance are needed; and perhaps a bit more thought into some of the odd metaphors, similes, etc. are needed. This one in particular made me actually laugh out loud. “He was white as a ghost, one-eyed, and handsome in the style of a shark.” Not only did I laugh because I have no idea what it means; but because I couldn’t stop thinking of Chandler on Friends and his shark fetish! Overall I did appreciate that The Unspoken Name didn't have a huge cliffhanger ending, and so if you wanted to try it out and not continue you’ll feel like you read a complete story. This is an interesting choice in a genre where large series are common. Many desire for stand-alone books (including myself) and yet when you put so much heart and time into the world developing it seems a shame to only use it once; and so I’m glad there will be more books and hope that Larkwood improves on what is a decent start. Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. 

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  • Had Potential

    This could have been a really good book. Good plot, good setting, well written, aside from the foolish names given to the characters and good scene building. Unfortunately, and what sank the book to being just okay, were the characters. For the most part, there was little or no real connections between them. A couple didn't like each other and the ones who eventually got around having what might have been a relationship never had chance to really connect. It was like A went here and did that, along with B & C. There just did not seem to be much real emotion generated. I just did not feel it.

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  • Solid.

    More, please. Wry humour, buckets of swashbuckle, obvious echoes of Ursula K. LeGuin (that's not a dig; I'll take all the LeGuin I can get). Bought it on sale and didn't expect much of it, but it overdelivered.

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