Rating: 4.5 stars
Genre: adult, fantasy, grimdark
Author: Mark Lawrence
Synopsis: In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole into which broken children are thrown.
On Abeth the vastness of the ice holds no room for individuals. Survival together is barely possible. No one survives alone.
To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is not the same.
Yaz learns that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined. She learns that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she learns to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.
This was by far one of my most anticipated books of the year and Mark Lawrence came through again and dragged me out of my reading slump to delight me with his fantastic world.
This book obviously takes place in the same world as the Book of the Ancestor series (which I’ve reviewed for your convenience). I don’t think we get a timeline of when the events of this book take place relative to Nona’s story, at least not in this first book, but it focuses on a lot of aspects of the lore that we just kind of glimpse in Nona’s story. Which I am so glad about because I still have so many questions and I can’t wait to see how it all ties together and I am just super excited for this series. I don’t think it’s strictly necessary to read the first series, but I would recommend it because there’s a lot of world-building in that series that you don’t see in this one. And it’s not because of bad writing, but it’s just because of the ignorance of the main characters. They will probably slowly get revealed in this series as the story progresses, but I think knowing those things in advance definitely add to the story.
The biggest problem I had with this and really why I didn’t give it 5 stars is that the relationships seemed kind of rushed. The whole thing takes place over I don’t know. A few weeks maybe and already after the first couple of days they were all tight friends and it felt kind of rushed. It wasn’t too bad, like it didn’t get in the way of the story too much but it was a bit of a let-down for me. Otherwise, I enjoyed the characters. I still think I prefer Nona over Yaz, but I really liked Yaz as well. I liked the supporting ast as well, though I do wish we’d got to know some of them a bit better. Thinking back now, I read the book maybe two weeks ago and I don’t have a strong feel for what a lot of the supporting characters are like. I think there’s just maybe 3 or 4 of them that I can distinctly remember and rest are just kind of a blur and even while reading I couldn’t really remember who was who.
We do meet some interesting characters who may or may not be human, who knows, and I thought they were really cool I just want to know more about them. I’m really, really intrigued by the conflict going on. It was kind of hinted at vaguely in The Book of the Ancestor, but here it’s just fully focused on and I can’t wait to find out what’s going on.
The underground setting was so cool. It just gave the whole of Abeth a new dimension and it took the world we already knew and expanded it and I loved it.
The ending was just such a… I don’t even know what the appropriate word for it is. It was just emotionally demanding. And a cliffhanger. And I just want the next book now. The tragedy of new books is that you have to wait so long for the next instalment. But yeah, would 100% recommend this book if you enjoyed his other series. And if you’ve not read that, then I recommend you go do that. Though do be aware that these are fairly dark books. There is a fair bit of violence and sometimes gore so reader discretion advised.