Title: The Unspoken Name
Author: A.K. Larkwood
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Series: The Serpent Gates #1
Genre/s and Tags: Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Adventure, Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Sapphic characters, F/F romance, M/M romance (mentioned)
Content Warnings: Violence, blood, a bit gory scenes, lots of death (minor characters)
Publication date: February 11, 2020
What if you knew how and when you will die?
Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.
But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.
But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.
I received an e-arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much Tor Books!
The first time I saw this book, the cover immediately caught my eye! So I researched about it more and decided quickly that it’s the Adult SFF book I’ve been craving for! I mean, come on, a girl runs away from her destiny and becomes an assassin?! It sounds like a high fantasy book that will amaze me.
And oh, boy. I wasn’t wrong.
The Unspoken Name is a glorious story and an epic journey about a girl who learns how to defy her fate, to make her own choices, and to pursue freedom.
My thoughts on The Unspoken Name
It’s hard to discuss The Unspoken Name as if it’s only one book because it doesn’t seem like only one book. The story starts with Csorwe (pronounced as ksor-way) as a 14-year-old girl, ready to sacrifice herself, ready to accept her destiny, because she doesn’t know anything else. She doesn’t think she has any other choice. But lo and behold, she meets Sethennai, a powerful wizard, who tells her she can escape and have a chance at a different life. From there, Csorwe’s long and epic journey starts.
The world-building in this book is vast, expansive. There are many cities, kingdoms, different tribes/races, with different religions and gods. It’s all so unique, and mysterious, and exciting. The pronunciation guide at the beginning of the book also adds more allure to the world, because it’s not just a simple guide on how to pronounce the names of the characters or places. It also gives a glimpse into the various languages they use—how certain letters are pronounced, how certain parts sound. Also, the imagery in this book is just amazing. The author took the readers to various places—from shrines, to mountains, to palaces, to caves, and tombs.
The plot is intricate, the story spans 8 years after all. Since Csorwe’s initial escape, to her training as an assassin and the mage’s shadow, to going on an assignment and meeting someone who made her want to pursue what she wanted (and not what she was told), a lot has happened. And although the various events seem like they’re not related at first, they all interconnect at one point and they all make sense at the end. I loved the plot twists in this book. They’re the kind of plot twists that I should have seen coming, but I didn’t, and they’re just so shockingly good.
The character arcs are just wonderful to witness. Take Csorwe for example. She starts as this quiet, feeble girl and grows into a dangerous assassin and learns to really be herself and do what she wants (especially at the end of the book). Another character arc I came to love so much is Tal Charossa. I’m going to be honest and say that I hated his guts for most part of the book. He was annoying, kept butting heads with Csorwe, and was just blinded by his emotions. However, he unlocked some character development by the end of the book, and I really liked that.
Of course, I loved the addition of the romance, too. It’s slow burn, the kind that made me want to jump when they finally got together! It’s not the main aspect of the story, but it definitely changed Csorwe for the better.
[kind of a spoiler, but I just want to say that they’re pretty much soft yet badass girlfriends and I love them]
Last but not the least, the writing style and the overall tone of the book is also commendable. It’s mysterious, but also quite humorous in several parts. It’s hard for me to look away from the pages because it’s just so intriguing, and I love how the author inserted humor, whether it be in the characters’ inner thoughts or the current situation.
Quotes from the book
“When someone gives up their life for yours, the least you owe them is to try and make the most of what they’ve given to you.”
“The gods made no allowances for young love, but perhaps it was worth having it while you could.”
“The secret of greatness is to know when you should risk the wrath of god.”
*Note that these quotes may differ from the published copy.
Buy The Unspoken Name
Overall, The Unspoken Name is such a great read for me! I’m excited to see this book in the wild!
How about you guys? Have you read this book? Are you looking forward to it? Tell me in the comments!