A.K. Larkwood – The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates #1)

Author: A.K. Larkwood
Title: The Unspoken Name
Series: The Serpent Gates #1

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

Csorwe is an orc. You can tell that because it is occasionally mentioned she has tusks. There are also elves in this book. You can tell that because it is occasionally mentioned that they have pointy ears. Further differences between elves, orcs and humans? Ehem.

I wasn’t hoping for Tolkien-esque magical races (I honestly had enough of that), but giving us a non-human race and then basically turning them into humans who look a bit funny always feels like wasted potential to me.

Another thing that threw me off was…how quickly things happened. Look at the blurb: “a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.” I had expected this to be the book but it isn’t. Most of her training is skipped over (thankfully), she then infiltrates the enemy camp but gets caught and tortured. But because teenagers who had only a crash course military training can withstand everything she doesn’t give anything away, manages to free herself and go back to the wizard who uses the information she collected to take back his seat of power. And that’s the end of part one.

What then follows is quest after quest but with very little time spent on the way to the conclusion of each quest, on the planning, on the finding the way to the place they need to go, on the travelling, on the despair about having no idea what to do…on all the things that lets you see the heroes in different situations. They don’t have to really search for anything. Time is skipped till a point where they already know where to find what they want. The characters are barely ever uncertain about things. Once they made a decision – to obey or disobey an order, to go somewhere, they just do it and then usually quickly land in a situation where they have to fight and almost get killed.

Just like I’m not saying that it should have been Tolkien elves and orcs, I’m not saying that book should have been 95% road travel and then one epic battle but by only seeing them in these high-strung situations made me feel as if I missed important parts of their characters. And as a result of that…I simply didn’t care much for them.

ARC received from NetGalley

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