The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, a review (Deathless #1)

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna is the first book in a trilogy, with the second book only being released recently. With that, I thought it was finally time for me to pick up book one.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

This book follows young girls who, at 16, have their blood tested to see if it runs pure. Runs red. If it doesn’t? If it runs gold? They are impure in the eyes of their god and must be killed. But the King has a new decree, one that states that those who are impure will instead be taken and trained as soldiers, intended to fight the Deathshreiks that terrorise the land.

I adored this book so much. The character development throughout is absolutely fantastic, how we see our main character alter from initially believing what she was taught to instead questioning this status quo and radically altering her perspective.

The world building is also done amazingly in this book, how the religion of the country is established as well as the history of the attacks. I also liked how the character backgrounds were developed, with the intricacies that were present and added a lot of depth to each individual.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 8, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 10 giving an average of 9 and a 5* rating.

Highlight here for content warnings: The following warning is found in the book: “The Gilded Ones includes scenes of violence, including some graphic violence, which some readers may find distressing. Additional trigger warnings: death, disownment, loss of a parent/loved one, mutilation, paedophilia, rape, starvation, trauma, torture.

This is an absolutely beautiful YA fantasy book and I am incredibly excited to carry on with the series, with book two The Merciless Ones. With where book one ended off I need to know where the story is going next!

Fire by Kristin Cashore, a review (Graceling Realm #2)

Fire by Kristin Cashore is the second book in the Graceling series. It’s also actually a prequel, being set before the events of book one – Graceling. I read Graceling earlier this year and really enjoyed it so I was excited to dive into Fire when it came up as my August tbr jar pick.

Fire by Kristin Cashore

I really enjoyed this book! I was forcing myself to put it down and go to bed each night! In this we follow a young woman called Fire who is half human, half monster. But in this world being a monster means being irresistible and Fire has to work hard to stop every person around her throwing themselves at her feet.

This is more than just about her dealing with her monstrous influence, however. It’s also a book about war, spies, friendship, love, and learning about yourself. Everything you need in a good YA fantasy! I adored seeing Fire’s growth throughout the book and I was incredibly invested in her relationships with those around her. From her father figures, to possible romantic relations, to her guards who cared for her separately from her monstrous influence.

This book also calls back (or forward?) to Graceling, with at least one recognisable character from the previous book present. I don’t want to spoil anything by saying who that is, but they’re mentioned in the prologue so it won’t take you long to find out.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 9 with an average of 8.71 and a 4.5 star rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: animal abuse, animal death, animal torture, assault, attempted sexual assault, death (parental), gaslighting, grief, murder, rape (mentioned), suicide (discussed), torture, violence.

My only complaint about this series so far is that it has me caring about and being deeply invested in the lives of one set of characters – and then completely moves in time in the next book! Book 3 is set a fair few years after Graceling apparently and I just need more of Katsa and Fire!! (I’m not actually mad at this, if it wasn’t clear. I just want more from these young women!)

Have you read any of the books in this series? Let me know your thoughts!

Graceling, a review

Graceling by Kristin Cashore is a YA fantasy book that’s been out since 2008, and because of that I’ve heard a lot about it. Some bad, but also some good from people who I have similar opinions to. So I thought I would finally delve in and give the book a shot… and I bought all four books out in the series! So I was really hoping that I’d enjoy it!

Thankfully, I loved it!!

Now don’t get me wrong, this is very much written in that style of the late noughts. Thankfully for me, that’s hella nostalgic and so I loved it. Our main character, Katsa, does go a little overboard in the “I’m not feminine” department. But at the same time, as someone who isn’t the most feminine (and was a very tomboy-ish child) I did really like reading from her perspective.

There are some fantastic characters in this book, both on the “good” and the “evil” sides. And seeing how Katsa develops throughout the book, and how others have to develop in their opinions of her because of this, was fascinating and so well done. I loved how Cashore developed knowledge of the magical system (having a Grace, a power) and how this development allowed our MC to really come into her own and become stronger.

There’s also a fair amount of development for the worldbuilding. There are a variety of tense and uneasy alliances across this world and seeing them interact with each other was super interesting. We also got to see how these kingdoms fights impacted the regular people living within their boarders, which is something that’s often overlooked and I really enjoyed.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 8, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9 and Enjoyment: 10 giving a 8.86 score and a 4.5* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: animal abuse, child abuse, gaslighting, murder, pedophilia (implied), rape (allusions to), violence.

Overall, I’m really glad that I dove in and gave this series a shot because it was super fun and really interesting! I’m excited to read Fire in the near future and carry on learning more about the world. I just hope I get used to the weird names. If you’ve read the Graceling series let me know your thoughts! Did you love it, or did you hate it?? How come??