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Review: Gate to Kandrith, Nicole Luiken

Gate to Kandrith, Nicole LuikenTitle: Gate to Kandrith (Goodreads)

Author:   Nicole Luiken (@NicoleLuiken)

Rating: 

Series: Kandrith 1 of 2(?)

Genre: Adult High Fantasy/Romance

Published: Carina Press, March 26, 2012

My copy: Ebook ARC from NetGalley

Pre-order an E-copy: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Barnes & Noble • Diesel eBooks

Sarathena Remillus, daughter of the newly elected Primus of the Republic of Temboria, has been given a mission: discover the secret of slave magic. Anxious to escape the corruption and treachery of the capital, Sara welcomes the chance to finally prove herself far away in Kandrith, the tiny nation of former slaves.

Accompanying her on the journey is Lance, a Kandrithan to whom Sara owes her life. Lance despises the nobility, and is determined to resist his desire for Sara, despite her attempts to entice him into divulging the secret of his magic. (Goodreads)

Review

Gate to Kandrith drew me in from the very first chapter and didn’t let go. The story moves along at a cracking pace, introducing elements of romance right away and weaving them around an interesting society and world.

The countries of the Republic and Kandrith are very different. The Republic is ruled by a Primus who has seized power, attended by a court of nobles with slaves to serve them. Kandrith was founded by escaped slaves, headed by one chosen by the Goddess of Mercy and protected by magic. Kandrith is rather utopian –  even though they do have a fairly fool-proof justice system in the “Listeners” who cannot hear lies, surely even in a nation of escaped slaves there would be someone ambitious enough to seize power? In any case, it sounds like an idyllic place.

The magic system used by the slaves is based on sacrifice – you must give up something in order to receive power. I like systems like this where balance is preserved more than those where magic is freely available to be used. It seems more realistic to me – as realistic as magic can be, anyway.

When this book is described as “adult fantasy”, it’s not wrong – right from the first chapter we’re introduced to jazoria, a drug that increases desire against the victim’s will. There’s quite a few raunchy and violent scenes throughout the book, and I can’t help feeling that these scenes may prevent the book from reaching as wide an audience as it might otherwise have. Not that I didn’t enjoy the romance – Sara and Lance are rather swoon-worthy!

The characters were, perhaps, a little shallow. That didn’t stop them from being likable though. It was great to see Sara’s journey as she discovered that there were ways to live other than how she had been raised in the Republic. Lance was just a total sweetheart! Absolutely no complaints there, I loved him.

Gate to Kandrith was a brilliant read and was very difficult to put down.  It will be tough to wait for the next book to come out to find out what happens next!

Read this book to your little ‘uns? Absolutely not! Contains some grisly deaths, graphic adult scenes, rape and torture.

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Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Goodreads)

Author:   Laini Taylor

Rating:

Series: Book 1 of 3 (planned and unnamed)

Genre: YA Fantasy

Published: Hachette Book Group, 2011

Pages: 418
Paper copies: Amazon.com Amazon.co.ukBook Depository
E-copies: Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukEbooks.com

“Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.”

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

Review

I was a bit wary picking this book up since it has been hyped beyond any other book recently released. Thankfully, Daughter of Smoke and Bone delivers. I started reading it a couple of days before I was due to do some travelling for work and thank goodness I did – it gave me a few uninterrupted hours of reading time during which I couldn’t bear to put the Kindle down.

I’ve intentionally left this review fairly vague to avoid spoilers, and also because it had been a while since I read any reviews or descriptions of this book before I started reading it which ended up working really well – the story starts slowly, revealing piece by piece of Karou’s lives in Prague and “Elsewhere”.

I loved this book! The action was fast-paced and exciting, the story of love and hope of peace between warring races is sweet and lovely, and the romantic scenes were rather swoon-worthy. Karou is a strong, but vulnerable heroine. I felt the love-at-first-sight introduction of Akiva was a little overdone at first, but later the reasons unfolded and it made more sense. I shall say no more in the interest of avoiding spoilers!

I loved the descriptions of places in our world, especially Prague. I only visited the city for one day but I certainly remember the twisting passageways and odd little shops tucked away in the old town area. What a brilliant setting for a fantasy tale!

The worlds and events described in this book are so detailed that I felt I was almost seeing the action taking place before me. I was so pleased to discover that the rights to make Daughter of Smoke and Bone into a film have been acquired by Universal Studios – I thought a couple of times while reading that the story could make a beautiful and unique movie, and I really hope they will do just that.

The story shifts between Karou and Akiva’s points of view, and also jumps backwards and forwards in time to tell different parts of the characters’ histories. I found this a little off-putting at times, especially as they are just getting into exciting events and suddenly we are in a flashback to a much earlier time. The flashbacks are rarely more than one chapter so we get back to the action quickly, but I felt they disrupted the flow of the story a little.

The ending left me open-mouthed and desperate to know more. The second book in the series will be called Days of Blood and Starlight and is due for release in September 2012. I cannot wait.

Challenge: I read this book as part of the Eclectic Reader Challenge, hosted by Book’d Out.

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