Friday, June 8, 2018

Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett

Title: Onyx and Ivory
Author: Mindee Arnett
Genre: High Fantasy
Source: Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king years ago. Now Kate lives as an outcast, clinging to the fringes of society as a member of the Relay, the imperial courier service. Only those most skilled in riding and bow hunting ride for the Relay; and only the fastest survive, for when dark falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals. But it’s this magic that she needs to keep hidden, as being a wilder is forbidden, punishable by death or exile. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by nightdrakes in broad daylight—the only survivor her childhood friend, her first love, the boy she swore to forget, the boy who broke her heart.

The high king’s second son, Corwin Tormane, never asked to lead. Even as he waits for the uror—the once-in-a-generation ritual to decide which of the king’s children will succeed him—he knows it’s always been his brother who will assume the throne. And that’s fine by him. He’d rather spend his days away from the palace, away from the sight of his father, broken with sickness from the attempt on his life. But the peacekeeping tour Corwin is on has given him too much time to reflect upon the night he saved his father’s life—the night he condemned the would-be killer to death and lost the girl he loved. Which is why he takes it on himself to investigate rumors of unrest in one of the remote city-states, only for his caravan to be attacked—and for him to be saved by Kate.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin have to put the past behind them. The threat of drakes who attack in the daylight is only the beginning of a darker menace stirring in the kingdom—one whose origins have dire implications for Kate’s father’s attack upon the king and will thrust them into the middle of a brewing civil war in the kingdom of Rime.
Review by Nara

It's a bit unfortunate, because I really feel like the only downfall of Onyx and Ivory is that it recycles many of the classic fantasy tropes. It's honestly too many to list, and most aspects of the novel seem to be taking inspiration from previous YA high fantasy books. So there's not really any big negatives to the book, it's just that they're all things that have been seen before.

Kate and Corwin are the point of view characters, and they are both quite likeable. I found their romance to be believable, with there being a revenge style backstory as the foundations of their relationship. They were a bit typical in terms of "strong, magically gifted peasant" and "righteous second born prince whose destiny is to take the throne", but I felt they were both still pretty well developed.

The action side of the story was also quite well done, with there being a couple of different subplots tying together to make an engaging and well paced novel. I did find that certain sections in the middle did drag a little, but I felt that the length of the novel was okay overall.

I would say that I would definitely have rated this book higher had I not been a huge reader of fantasy novels. It was quite well written, with an engaging story line and interesting characters.

Liked it
Overall: 7/10
Plot: 3/5
Romance: 3.5/5
Writing: 4/5
World Building: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 4/5