Author: A.K. Larkwood
Series: The Serpent Gates #1
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: February 11th, 2020
Warnings: Human sacrifices
I received a copy of The Unspoken Name through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Unspoken Name is the first novel in a new epic fantasy series by A.K. Larkwood. It’s also a novel that I’ve been hearing nonstop chatter about – all gushing reviews and commentary. So naturally, I knew that this was going to be a piece worth checking out.
Csorwe has lived her entire life knowing when and where she would die. She grew up knowing that she was the Chosen Bride of the Unspoken One. And that meant that on the day of her fourteenth birthday, she would become a sacrifice to him.
Her birthday came, but the sacrifice did not. For one wonderful wizard walked into her life and offered her a choice. It was the first real choice ever offered to her, and it changed her life forever. Literally.
“The Chosen Bride of the Unspoken One was set apart by protocol, but also by pragmatism. There was no point cultivating the friendship of a Chosen Bride.”
Oh my goodness. I officially understand why everyone was gushing so much about The Unspoken Name. This novel has a lot to offer, not least of which being how unique and thrilling it is! This is a novel unlike any other fantasy series out there, at least not that I’ve seen.
The Serpent’s Gates is the name of the series, and I can already tell that this is going to be an epic fantasy series worth keeping an eye on. If The Unspoken Name is anything to go by (which it is), Larkwood is going to have many more surprises up her sleeves.
The entire premise of this novel is choice. Csorwe had that taken away from her as a child. Only to be handed it back by the hands of a stranger. From that moment onward, her tale was a series of choices. She chose to be free. She chose to follow the wizard who saved her life. She chose to fight.
There’s a powerful message to be found there. And it’s not the only message Larkwood wove into her tale. I think that is why this is such a powerful tale, and why it is speaking to so many readers. Because this novel (and series) covers a lot of intensely human elements.
The worldbuilding showcased in this novel is extremely impressive. I know that this is A.K. Larkwood’s debut novel – but seriously, keep an eye on her. Her worlds are outstanding, so lush and full of detail. There’s plenty of religions, politics, alliances, lore, and plotting to be found in her works.
Another noteworthy part of this book? It really reads as more of two books blended together. The first half of the book are the scenes I’ve described above; the life Csorwe lived when she intended to be a sacrifice, and then her choice to flee with the wizard and everything that entailed. The second half of the novel jumps forward five years, after Csorwe has trained and learned confidence in herself. She is still very much keep on making her own choices, and that leads her to the fray – and to choose her own destiny in regards to love as well.
I’m honestly blow away from The Unspoken One, and am already finding myself anxiously looking forward to the sequel in this series, because it’s clearly going to be a good one. At least I know I’m waiting in good company.