Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

The Diminished by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

I requested The Exalted on NetGalley without realizing it was a sequel, and then had the pleasure of binge reading this duology by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson.

It is hard to go into a lot of summary without spoilers, so here is the GoodReads summary:

In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone

The Singleborn
A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him.

The diminished
When one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died. Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what’s left of her life in peace.

As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures—one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined.

The Singleborn are few and born to rule and be leaders, while most of the population is born as twins to keep their other half in check. This ties in with the pretty cool lore and world building, depicted by the halved moon on the gorgeous cover. See this below! The lore and premise really had me interested in this series and I found a lot of unique elements. I also freaking loved Queen Runa by the way.

What I really liked was the world building, political structures, and how quickly the action progressed. I liked the journey but some parts felt too easy, like Mal and Quill coming out of no where and being Vi’s new bffs. I was also cringeing at the insta love between like…everybody, but at least they kind of recognized it as lust and didn’t get all emotional at first. Bo is also extremely gay which seems to be a big draw these days.

Really though between the world, the friendships built, the unlikely families and friends, the betrayals coming from unlikely places, and how terrible certain things end up being for Vi’s old friends…This story really twined together quite nicely and progressed quickly enough to keep me fairly rapt. I think the author took riding lessons or has horses as well, because Vi’s riding lessons had me laughing at the 😂

This might be book two but the atrocities that the Suzerain and the temple are committing are like 😳, fear ruling bastards. I honestly forget where in the major plot line book one ended, but it was not a cliffhanger. The book didn’t need one, I already knew I would be reading the sequel and appreciated the solid ending of this first installment.

Highly recommend to any fans of fantasy, found families, political betrayals, and thick plot building!

Categories
Fantasy

An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

Thank you so much to MacMillan – Tor/Forge, Tor Books for the e-ARC of An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass. Provided through NetGalley, all opinions are my own!

An Illusion of Thieves is a refreshing new young adult novel about a sister and brother who must first learn to coexist, and then foil an attempt by a rival group to start a civil war.

The description from GoodReads:

Romy escapes her hardscrabble upbringing when she becomes courtesan to the Shadow Lord, a revolutionary noble who brings laws and comforts once reserved for the wealthy to all. When her brother, Neri, is caught thieving with the aid of magic, Romy’s aristocratic influence is the only thing that can spare his life—and the price is her banishment.

Now back in Beggar’s Ring, she has just her wits and her own long-hidden sorcery to help her and Neri survive. But when a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy knows how to stop it. To do so, she’ll have to rely on newfound allies—a swordmaster, a silversmith, and her own thieving brother. And they’ll need the very thing that could condemn them all: magic

So I really enjoyed this book for a couple of reasons, first being that I am sick of romance in young adult novels. This book instead focuses on a first tentative, then beautiful slow burn hate to love relationship building between Romy and Neri. They form a real sister and brother bond and eventually while reading, it dawned on me that Neri is the true central character. I love how he goes from criminal angst to finding a purpose, then is able to function as a fairly reliable member of a group, thanks to Romy and the weaponsmaster.

The magic system is also pretty cool, where each person’s magic seems to be more of a more innate talent. Romy can wipe and reorder minds, others can read steel, some can smith magically… I felt like they all had Skyrim-esque skill sets that were magic, except those people were considered dangerous as sorcery is illegal in the world.

The world is also fantasitcally built, in what felt like an old Roman style. The rings of the city were clearly described, as was the political situation. Also the cruelty described in the book felt SO real – the sniffers for example. There are a lot of messed up things going on against magic users. I felt like I was wading through the crappy morale of the lower city with the rest of the rabble. Now if you like a long, intricate description of political intrigue, this will be your book. I can fully appreciate what Glass did with the political structure, but the book slowed down SO much between say 45 and 70% that she lost me a little bit. Then at the end, the heist felt a tad bit anticlimactic and left me wondering if it couldn’t have been a little more exciting, although the painter….the painter! I love his magic the most!

I definitely love the characters though and can not wait for book two. The crew will be involved in an even bigger scheme this time and I am so absorbed in the political aspects that I will be interested to see how the threads of the bigger world struggle all tie together.

100% Recommend for fans of fantasy, young adult fiction, heists, political intrigue, and a good group of characters! Thank you again to Tor for the opportunity to read the book early!