Onyx & Ivory, Mindee Arnett. Balzer + Bray. ISBN: 9780062652669.
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.
This book was a welcome break from all the YA romance/contemporary I’ve been reading lately! I used to read a lot of fantasy, then I read more contemporary, and now I’m finding my love for fantasy again. Onyx & Ivory has been on my TBR list for awhile and it was worth the wait, and here’s why:
- The world-building was actually pretty solid! I find that many fantasy authors struggle with this concept. They either go into too much detail, which ultimately confuses more than helps the reader, or they are too brief, not reaching the story’s full potential. Onyx & Ivory has enough of the world’s history to help us understand the people’s customs, important wars that have influenced their politics and thoughts, and the basic knowledge of what progress would mean for these people, all of which helped contribute to the plot.
- The plot was interesting and left me guessing! I absolutely loved the tidbits of foreshadowing spread throughout the book. Some of these pieces were meant to lead us astray and helped contribute to some surprising plot twists while some were expanded on as the book progressed. There are a few subplots throughout the book that help contribute to the main plot, and this helped keep the pace going strong throughout the whole book. I never experienced the sensation of skimming through boring descriptions or filler chapters until the plot picked back up because there were always minor plots weaving their way into the main plot.
- The different points of view weren’t annoying! The book is told from both Kate and Corwin’s POVs. This can be really frustrating in other books, but the transitions between the two felt very natural in Onyx & Ivory. Each character was defined well enough to have their own personality. That being said, this book is definitely more plot-driven and there are some things about the characters that I would have liked to learn more about, like how Kate and Corwin were as friends, how Kate and Signe met, more flashback-like interactions between Kate and her father, etc. These points wouldn’t really have added more to the plot, but I think they would have helped make the characters more well-rounded.
According to Goodreads, Onyx & Ivory is the first book in a duology. From how the first book ended, I don’t see how it could end up as a trilogy unless something crazy happens in book two that would make things stretch on. Maybe someday there will be a prequel book that touches on some of my character grievances, but for now I’m just eagerly awaiting the second book!
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