A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.
The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel. Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.
I’ll admit at first I was pretty intimidated to read this book, as the hardcover edition is huge and actually pretty heavy, but once I found it was sapphic I just knew I had to read it then. This was also helped by the book being released in paperback (making it a bit smaller and a lot lighter). Although the length is still a little intimidating, ultimately I really loved this book and it’s automatically on my favourites list.
The story follows four main characters, Ead Duryan, Tane, Lord Arteloth Beck and Dr Niclays Roos, as each of them struggles with their past and has to deal with the re-awakening of draconic creatures. I really enjoyed the way Shannon interweaves these separate narrative voices, even when the characters are oceans away from one another.
The development of the four main characters, and others, throughout the novel is spectacular. I loved the ways in which relationships, romantic and otherwise, developed between the characters, especially Sabran and Ead. All the women in this novel were so strong and amazing, but in completely different ways.
Shannon’s writing is just amazing. I haven’t read any of her other novels yet so I can’t say whether that is also true in those (although I would be surprised if it was not). There are just so many great descriptions and quotes within the novel. I felt that the four-person narrative greatly aided in making the story as amazing as it is.
While the story itself is truly outstanding, Shannon’s worldbuilding is on a whole different level. From the myths and legends of the different countries, to their religious beliefs and societal norms, all of it is amazingly well written. The different types of dragons, wyverns and other mythological creatures (some created by Shannon herself) were so interesting. Especially the ways in which different countries within the world viewed them, with the East worshipping dragons as Gods, while the West viewed them as evil and no different to the wyverns that have been tormenting the world.
I really loved that the world created by Shannon in this novel is largely (unlike many other fantasy novels) equal. There is a very obvious lack of inequalities such as sexism, racism and homophobia present within the world and it’s just so fresh and truly escapist in a way some other fantasies just aren’t.
All in all I just really loved this book and cannot recommend it enough. Please go and read it if you haven’t already.
As always, thanks for reading. Sorry I haven’t posted in months life’s been pretty hectic but hopefully I should have a regular posting schedule soonish.