Thank you so much to By the Book VBP for having me on the bookstagram tour for Vows of Gold and Laughter! I recently read Edith Pawlicki’s debut novel called Minerva, and was extremely excited to see this second novel! I received a lovely finished paperback in exchange for a bookish feature and honest review!
This is an adult fantasy set in a rich world that focuses on Asian mythology, a whole lot of magic, and realizing one’s self worth despite what fate seems to have to store.
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: Vows of Gold and Laughter
- Series: The Immortal Beings, #1
- Author: Edith Pawlicki
- Publisher & Release: Indie, 04/02/21
- Length: 442 pages
- Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes for adult fans of the genre!
Here is the book blurb from Amazon:
The meeting of four lonely immortals will change them – and the world.
High in the Heavens, an immortal court celebrates the betrothal of Jin, Goddess of Beauty, and Xiao, God of Pleasure. But as soon as the vows are made, the Sun Emperor collapses from a death curse.
Raised away from the Sun Court after her mother’s murder, Jin is called a useless goddess, but she is now the emperor’s only hope. The curse’s cure is locked in the Underworld, and even though the court dismisses him as a hopeless alcoholic, Xiao vows to help his betrothed find the lost key.
They hire a thief who is more interested in stealing the groom than recovering the key, and begin their search at the legendary grave of the Great Warrior – only it turns out he never died. Tens of millennia old, he is a master of everything but his own heart.
Their journey takes them from the icy peaks of the White Mountain and the lush banks of the Kuanbai River to the palace of the Sea Dragon and the halls of the Moon Deer, through court intrigue and bloody battles, power struggles and magical traps. Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld will forever celebrate their triumphs – and mourn their mistakes.
This is an indie novel that really deserves all the hype of a traditionally published piece of work. Pawlicki takes us all over the fictional world, into various palaces and homes of the immortals from the Heavens to the Underworld, on a quest to save a despicable ruler, through two love stories and complicated friendships, as well as on a journey of self-discovery than can only be achieved through learning the truth about the past.
The Worldbuilding is richly described, with colorful palaces and equally colorful immortals. Quite literally because the most powerful gods are colors. We learn the physical lay of the land, the fauna, weather, food, music, and many local and court customs that help flesh out the world. It was definitely a little overwhelming at times but there are diagrams to help remember what is where and who is who.
The Characters: The characters are very much part of the world, as Pawlicki realizes and brings to life a full pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, deities, and immortal beings. There are four main characters who each have their own major flaws to work through, and it is a joy to watch them interact and learn how to work together. The banter is pretty entertaining at times, and other times quite serious. The thief, the warrior, the beauty, and…. well I guess the alcoholic, but he’s really a giant cinnamon roll and pretty powerful in his own right.
I did get absolutely lost in the characters at times though, like without the diagram I would have been lost. This is where I docked a star – I love all four of the main characters but it was kind of hard to figure out who else was going to be important and who to pay attention to. The author absolutely did a stunning job bringing so many characters to life though.
The Magic: Is based on colors, and what colors or essences will respond to each deity. This is pretty cool because it creates a lot of Earth-based magic, building, and transformative abilities which were cool too. There is also darker and shadow magic which I imagine we will see a lot more of in book two.
Themes: I touched on themes up top, but the main one seemed to be realizing your own self value and embracing who you are. Each character had to learn what they were capable of, and even the most accomplished ones still had lots of learning to do. I also docked some points for a recurring ongoing of sexual repression vs expression, and I get it since Xiao was the god of pleasure but don’t really come to fantasy for that discussion. I believe, as well as because of the ages of the characters, that this is why the book was targeted for adult readers. There are also themes of found family, family ties, sacrifice, justice, betrayal, civil war, and everything else you would expect from bickering Gods and Goddesses that are full of personality.
Overall: I definitely recommend this one for anyone interested in mythology, fantasy, asian themes, and anyone that loves a gorgeous cover. Thanks again to By the Book VBP and the author for my copy, all opinions are my own!