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.
This instantly became one of my favorite books, and I want to thrust it into the face of anyone who likes fantasy or queer ladies or, ideally, both!
Where lesser fantasy novel would drag out this plot into a multiple books, The Unspoken Name has a pace that crashes readers through twists and time jumps while feeling cohesive and satisfying. Bonus: This IS the start of a series, but that is only because there is so much good story to cover, not because Larkwood held anything back this time around. We start with Csorwe (An orc protagonist! My heart!) as a child raised to be a sacrifice, then quickly leap several years ahead after she decides to abandon her fate. I found it so much more interesting to see how that time had changed rather than read every detail of what changed her.
Also, the idea of a sacrifice refusing to play into the role that’s dealt to them….but there being consequences? I love that! I feel like most stories with this conceit revolve around the sacrifice realizing that the religion is corrupt or sacrifices are unnecessary, but this iteration felt so much more powerful and interesting to me.
That detail speaks to the joy that is the worldbuilding of The Unspoken Name. Every person and place that we meet feels rich and well thought out. I wanted to know more and see more, so it delights me that Larkwood is working on a sequel, The Thousand Eyes, due to be released in June 2022.
All of this is just a lead up to my favorite aspect of this book: the characters are SO GOOD. The wizard who “rescues” Csorwe is unapologetically ambitious and selfish, and Tal, his other apprentice, is an asshole. The three of them together is *chef’s kiss*. Their relationships are so complicated and messy, and there is literally nothing I love more.
What Make This Book Queer?
The Unspoken Name has multiple queer relationships! Huzzah! The central lesbian relationship warmed my little heart, and I especially liked that their attraction to each other was as much about what they each had lost as it was sparks and lusty times. Their relationship built very naturally and slowly, and I cannot wait to see more of them.
On the other hand, we have a gay relationship that is revealed out of nowhere and is so sad, but in a deliciously dramatic way. I won’t say more than that.