War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people―and certainly more than she did for him.
At least, that’s what he thinks.
In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.
But no one gets what they want just by wishing.
As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?
Review: (Video review)
A heart gripping story about a woman who has lost herself and her memories to a life she once held dear. This story tells the tale of a high born Valorian lady who turns her back on her people for what she believes it the greater good. We follow the story about how she was first tortured and her journey to free herself from her mental torments that linger on long after her shackles have been freed. I felt that I didn’t know where to place this story as it was a drama, following the life of poor Kestrel, but also romanticised by her relationship to Arin. Arin, who is a simple Harranian blacksmith, captured and sold as a slave to Kestrel when her father, the commander of the Valorian Navy, overthrew Herrani land. I found this book to make elaborate descriptions of everything around and every thought that could possibly pop into Kestrel’s head and hence made it a heavy read that dragged on. I often felt that I wanted the story to develop into the next stage to see what would happen, but yet again often got stuck dwelling in Kestrel’s self-pity. Reflecting on the main point of the story afterwards it wasn’t that bad, but reading through it was a struggle. The saddening topic of war and death didn’t make it better.
Message & Moral
I’m confused as to what the message of this book is. I have seen a few topics which could qualify, yet none of them are particularly clear.
- Fight for what you believe in for the greater good, even if it is against your own people
- Never give up on true love, keep fighting and be patient to make your relationship blossom
- Be brave in war and place all your efforts in defending your loved ones
As I said, this book is ambitious but I can’t see how it all ties up into a beginning, middle and resolution, but rather feel it to be a compilation of scattered events.
Creatures & Environment
The characters are well described from top to toe, what they are wearing, every scar on their body, all that they feel and all that they do, however I felt that none of it was particularly interesting. I didn’t enjoy the fact that it was a fantasy world where different countries were at war with each other. The need for black powder made for a compelling reason to enter each others’s territories. The counties were distinguished by having differently cultured people and languages which had a well described base. The characters also pray to different gods and can speak and receive help from them, which is another element that adds to the already scattered red thread. I can’t fail Marie for bringing the story to life with its elaborate explanations, I just wished they were even more lively.
Captivation and Continuity
The first twelve chapters were only about Kestrel being drugged and tortured by her own people and how she dwells in self-pity. This lengthily self grovelling saga made it hard to fall in love with the story. It does get a bit more intriguing as soon as her slave and secret lover rescue her. They then have a complicated relationship that is exhausting to read and I hoped, during the next ten chapters, that Kestrel would soon remember her relationship with Arin.
Language & Flow
The language was simple and straight to the point with too many sentences that described irrelevant scenery. Although, it did make you understand the traumatic experience of a woman who’s lost her memory in war and is fighting against her own people, I found that it could have been focused more on action rather than describing the environment.
T.M. Caruana’s Invisible Cloak Award