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    Tithed to the Dread Lord

    I read and enjoyed a bunch of other books by this author, so I bought this book on release and promptly forgot about it for a while. Until now when I finally decided to pick this up. This was a great fantasy romance read with an interesting plot line and well done world building. It's different from her sci-fi books, but I quite enjoyed this one too. Tithed to the Dread Lord follows the story of Niamne and Orphios. This is a world with magic and gods, but also people who start believing less in the magics and gods. When it's time for the yearly tithe to the dread lord, the council decides to give him less than what's his due and instead of a full priestess they send Niamne, an acolyte, to deliver the tithe. She's only an acolyte and doesn't know the full truth about the tithe and the council's scheme. Niamne then meet Orphios, the dread lord, and the two form a connection. This is mainly a romance story, but it also has an interesting plot line surrounding the tithe and council's plan. It has the quite the gentle pace, but it did keep my attention. I did feel at times that there was something missing to fully hook me and make me really care about these characters, but I can't quite put my finger on what that something is. The setting underground felt a bit dark at times, but it also had it's own appeal and the author definitely did a great job to give the underground setting it's own appeal. And it was interesting how the dead have their own personalities and roles as well. I liked Niamne and Orphios, although at first it's a bit hard to get a full feel for their personality and I feel like they get more interesting the more we learn. Niamne comes from a farm family and is chosen as an acolyte, she doesn't quite fit in and only late in this book you find out why. Orphios has a lonely existence as a the dread lord and I wasn't sure if he would have chosen this life for himself. he didn't have a choice in becoming the dread lord, but he does seem to do his job well. I liked how he acted around Niamne and how she helped him. The romance between these two seemed to develop quite quickly, but it did feel realistic. I liked the way Niamne saw the true him and how Orphios slowly opened his heart to Niamne. They have some struggles to overcome and some misunderstanding, but in the end they both realize the truth about their feelings. There is quite the exciting bit at the end, where everything comes to a head. Both the romance and the plot line surrounding the tithe and it was quite exciting to see how things unfolded and see the characters show their true feelings. The ending felt a little bit sudden and I would've loved to see an epilogue of how things go next, how Niamne and Orphios make a home together and also how the above ground world reacts now. There are some interesting side characters even tough the focus is mainly on the two main characters. There are a bunch of dead characters that have an important role and one who speaks in sort of riddles, which were difficult to understand at times. I liked how the dead had their own personalities and also in how they reacted to Orphios. Then there is Nianme's sister who also makes an appearance. As I've come to expect from Athena Grayson's books the world building is done really well in this book. From the magics, to the tithe, to the council who doesn't believe in magic anymore. I really liked all the details and scenes where we see how the dread lord's magic works. And also the magic of the flame and the hints of more of these types of magics and gods in the world. Even though these are the only two we see. I also liked how all magic comes with a price. To summarize: Tithed to the Dread Lord is an unique fantasy romance book. Both the romance and plot surrounding the tithe captured my attention and I enjoyed reading this book. Niamne and Orphos are interesting characters and over the course of the book I felt like I got to know both better. I liked seeing them fall in love with each other. And there's an exciting part at the end were both the romance and story line come to a conclusion. There are some interesting side characters among the dead and living. I especially liked the world building, which was done very well and I liked getting a feel for this world.
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