A guest review by Sirius
Summary: Very promising beginning of a new fantasy series in a fascinating world, and two protagonists who will hopefully progress from enemies to lovers eventually. 🙂
Dwelling in the land of Ada and defending magic users called the Jin, Fen Jacin-rei is a trained assassin and an Untouchable, one whose mind hosts the Voices of the Ancestors, spirits of long-dead magicians. His fate should be one of madness and solitude, yet Fen Jacin-rei desperately clings to his sanity and ferociously protects the family he loves. But how does Fen do it? Kamen Malick has every intention of finding out. When Malick and his own small band of assassins ambush Fen in an alley, Malick offers Fen one choice: join us or die. Determined to decode the intrigue that surrounds Fen—and to have the Untouchable for himself—Malick sets to unraveling Fen’s past while Fen delves into the mysteries surrounding Malick.
As Fen’s secrets slowly unfold, Malick is drawn into a crusade that isn’t his, one surprisingly similar to his own quest for vengeance. Yet irony is a bitter reward when Malick discovers the one he wants is already hopelessly entangled with the one he hunts.
I loved the Aisling series by this author and I could not stop myself from requesting the first book of her new series for review. Although while I was reading this book I questioned my decision more than once as her writing and her characters have a power to affect my emotions very strongly and I was worried about my ability to read these series critically. Well, it is up to you to decide whether I managed to do so or not. I also told myself that I must not — must not — compare this book with those from Aisling; I think I succeeded in a sense that the ghosts of Will and Dailin were not looming over my shoulder when I was typing ;), however I could not help but think about whether there were similar themes in this book. I think there was a similar theme in a sense that Fen hears voices of Ancestors in his head, same as Will heard the voices of Gods, and their lives are not very happy because of it when both series start. Here is where similarities end for me though.
The world of Wolf’s Own is a very different world than the one in Aisling, but just as rich and unique. Mythology or whatever we get a chance to learn of it is interesting and fascinating and just makes you want to learn more, more and more. Glances of history, culture, bloody war of two nations where one nation is suffering under the tyranny in constant pain, and at the same time things are not black and white at all if one pays attention to whatever history we had a chance to learn.
Fen just stole my heart — tortured, hurt, but so unbelievably strong and still able to love his family. Malick and his merry band are great characters, too. In fact, Malick appears to be more complex character than Fen at the moment, although I certainly like Fen more right now. 🙂 But Malick shows so many glimpses of his good heart that I am pretty confident that I will love him by the time the series end. But they all carry so many secrets, oh my goodness. I understand that it is part of the frustration of reading the first book in a series and the author made me want to know those secrets, but I have no bloody patience at all! 🙂 Can we have the last book right now?
And of course Carole Cummings writes one of the best “from enemies to lovers” themes I have ever read. Malick and Fen have chemistry which is off the charts and they do not even need to get to bed as they have it way before. The tension, the insults, the vulnerability, all the passion besides it — I loved it.
What did I not like? Of course I did not like the confusion and lack of explanation of some things, or I guess many things :), but I did not downgrade for that; if I am reading the first book of the series, I understand that this is a part of the package. Actually there several things that I thought I did not like, but the writer managed to make me accept them as the book went along. I thought I did not like that she put the glossary with some important definitions of her world-building in the beginning of the book because at first it felt like a rather massive info-dump, but as I continued to read, I appreciated it quite a lot because without it I would have been ten times more confused than what I was. I thought I did not like the flashbacks, but eventually I felt that I could not think of better way to show Fen’s upbringing.
I guess the only thing I really did not like is that writer for some reason felt a need to put me in the head of every minor character who appeared on page. Why, I ask? I counted at least eight or nine POVs and I found some of the jumps from one head to another dizzy-making and a bit irritating. I thought that three or four POVs would have been more than enough. Thank goodness it did not happen too often, but it happened often enough. I am prepared, however, to stand corrected on this issue as well as the series move along; if all those characters have their own arcs, maybe I will find that all those multiple POVs were justified for me.
I of course also disliked the ending, but then I don’t like cliffhangers. Luckily it stopped where it felt right and as far as cliffhangers go it was far from being the worst one, just very tense.
Can’t wait for next book. Recommended.