eARC Review – The Throne of the Five Winds

Title: The Throne of the Five Winds (Hostage of Empire #1)

Author: S.C. Emmett

Publisher: Orbit

Publication date: October 15th, 2019

704 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Two queens, two concubines, six princes. Innumerable hidden agendas. Yala, lady-in-waiting to the princess of a vanquished kingdom, must navigate their captors’ treacherous imperial court.

The Emperor’s palace — full of ambitious royals, sly gossip, and unforeseen perils — is perhaps the most dangerous place in Zhaon. A hostage for her conquered people’s good behavior, the lady Komor Yala has only her wits and her hidden maiden’s blade to protect herself — and her childhood friend Princess Mahara, sacrificed in marriage to the enemy to secure a tenuous peace.

But the Emperor is aging, and the Khir princess and her lady-in-waiting soon find themselves pawns in the six princes’ deadly schemes for the throne — and a single spark could ignite fresh rebellion in Khir.

And then, the Emperor falls ill, and a far bloodier game begins…

The Throne of the Five Winds is the first installment of the Hostage of Empire series, an intricate and ruthless East Asia-inspired epic fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of George R. R. Martin, Ken Liu, Kate Elliott, and K. Arsenault Rivera.

Review

**Thank you to Orbit, S.C. Emmett, and Netgalley for providing me a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

The Throne of Five Winds is a new Asian inspired Adult Epic Fantasy series that seems to gain inspiration from George R. R. Martin in political intrigue and battles for thrones. You have several nations, however the Empire of Zhaon dominates the novel, with it’s recent acquisition of neighboring land, Khir. In payment to their new overlords, Khir “Great Rider” sends his daughter, Mahara, to marry the Crown Prince of Zhaon. Yala, her best friend, is sent to serve as lady-in-waiting to Mahara. Both girls are very honorable and take their fate in silence.

The Throne of Five Winds has many characters, so it is hard to pin down a “main” character. There is 1 Emperor, 2 Queens, 2 Concubines, 6 Princes, 2 Princesses, Mahara, Yala, etc. It is very difficult, especially in the beginning to keep everyone straight. This is also due to them having traditional and similar Asian names. The chapters are told by different points of view, but aren’t denoted as such like usual, which makes it difficult to follow along as well.

I have many thoughts about this book. For one, the writing if very beautiful and flowery, but overdone for my taste. However, this is on brand for Asian inspired novels as well as Adult Epic Fantasy. There was very little that happened except pointed conversations and some general court intrigue for the first 70% of this book. I like to think of it like chess, where most of it was used to set up the events of the final quarter of the book, which then sets up the next book in the series. However, this got old at points and it was a struggle to keep interest in this book for that reason.

This being said, the last quarter of the book was fairly interesting. I think the second book will be more exciting because of how this one ended (no spoilers!). I did become invested in the characters, even the ones that were meant to create tension and turmoil by being bad. The ending brought this book up in rating for me, which I was happy to have happen.

I suggest The Throne of the Five Winds for fans of Epic Fantasy, Asian inspired stories, and George R. R. Martin. Readers should have good patience and interest in chess game style novels. Whereas this book was not always my cup of tea, I would suggest it for those who enjoy the above.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

Book Review – We Hunt The Flame

Title: We Hunt The Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1)

Author: Hafsah Faizal

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Publication Date: May 14, 2019

472 pages

4/5

Goodreads Synopsis

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. 

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

Review

“If I told you my name, would you bow?” His voice was soft. A melancholy caress. He lifted his chin when understanding dawned on her face. “Or would you flee?” 

Hafsah Faizal, we hunt the flame

Hello book friends! I read We Hunt The Flame while I was laying out on a cruise deck in the Atlantic Ocean – which I have to say really enhances the reading experience! Highly recommend to all you lovelies to take a cruise if your financials allow it! Special shout out to my parents for hooking me and the boyf up.

For this book, I saw it was HIGHLY rated on Bookstagram by reviewers that I admire and generally tend to agree with. They LOVED it and would not stop raving about it. Me? I was less thrilled.

Not to say I did not enjoy this book, I did give it four stars after all. But it draaaagged. Like, the first 150 pages were so slow and full of build up that I found it hard to focus. The book is written from a two person point of view, where the chapters bounce back and forth. I had no issue with this part, but I felt very disconnected from the characters, it was hard to pin down the timeline, and frankly they weren’t with each other so it was pretty confusing.

HOWEVER, the story definitely picked up after the two main characters actually came in contact with each other, Zafira and Nasir. Zafira is a woman who has been portraying a man as “The Hunter” because women are not respected in her territory. She is the one who is able to brave the Arz (magical, evil forest) to bring food and water to her territory. Nasir is the Crown Prince and is also an assassin for his insanely evil and unstable father, the Sultan of the country. These two characters are on a mission that will bring them together, but also tear them apart.

Once these two lovebugs met I started to really enjoy the book more. They have such snarky banter with each other and it’s such a slow burn romance. The side characters are generally interesting, and them working together and feeling each other out made the reading process easier.

We Hunt The Flame had great world building and a few major twists at the end, which rounded it out to a 4/5 stars for me. Would definitely recommend, and I will continue this series when the sequel, We Free The Stars, is released.

Happy reading, friends!