*I received an audio copy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*
The description makes this sound a lot more interesting and snappy than it turned out to be for me. It started out so strong, with Kai taking over a new body and being all badass. But then it was slow. Not much happened for a while. Lots of talking and explaining. There were scenes of action, but somehow they didn’t make it feel any more exciting for me. Then when things did happen, I just didn’t feel that invested. Even when they got the answers they spent the story looking for and some things were revealed, it felt like, “Oh, ok.” Half the story was in a past timeline too, which is already more difficult to make readers interested in because we sorta know how things turn out, and there just wasn’t enough personal stakes and relationship growth and those small scale sorts of things to make me invested regardless.
This is both compliment and complaint—I wanted more of those small scale things. I wanted to see more of Kai’s relationships with people, how they grew close in the past, more moments growing close in the present, etc. There was friendship and found family and maybe romance. I was interested in all that. But it seemed like, aside from the way he and Zeide interacted in the present, we really only got glimpses.
I also think Kai was an interesting character, or rather he could’ve been, but he was a bit too closed-off to me, the reader.
But if you like complex fantasy worlds, I have good news! This story is, in large part, about the world. Different groups vying for power or going to war or killing each other or working together. There’s also magic and demons, though the demons are not quite how we think of them in terms of Christianity but just a different species from a different plane with different abilities. They can take over mortal bodies to exist among the humans, but it’s not a constant body jumping thing, and they can drain life from living things.
And there are lots of queer characters! Nothing that I would call romance, but Kai and some of the other men seemed to have feelings for each other. Zeide and Tahren are a f/f couple. The demons are sort of trans or nonbinary by our definitions, since their gender doesn’t always match the gender of the human body they inhabit.
Think of this as less of an action-filled rescue mission story about a demon, and more of a slow-paced story about some important periods in a character’s life and the politics of the fantasy world he lives in, with just a touch of found family, and maybe you’ll have the right expectation and therefore a better experience.
The audiobook narration by Eric Mok was enjoyable. He has a very pleasant voice to listen to, with an English accent, and sounded natural. Voices weren’t super different, but I never had trouble knowing who was talking. He could’ve had a bit more oomph during action scenes, but it was great aside from that.
Overall, I wasn’t interested enough to get really into the story, but I was interested enough to keep listening to it. I think it’s a standalone, but if this does turn out to be a series about Kai, I’d probably give it another chance since more time with the characters could be just what I need to get into it.
Anyone who likes high fantasy worlds and all their politics, stories that are on the slow-paced side, alternating timelines, magic, and found family.
I’m probably going to read this, so I’m curious to see if it works for me. You make it sound pretty good, actually! Except for the slower parts????
I try to write my reviews so that even books I wasn’t into might find the readers who will be into them, so I’m glad it sounds good, maybe you’ll like it more! I’ll have to read your review and see what you think!
Ooh this is the first actual review I’ve seen for this. For some reason I don’t seem t obe able to get into her fantasy stories. Before Murderbot I tried her Raksura books I think they’re called and wasn’t amazed. I guess it’s like any author- some of their stuff you can like and other not s omuch. 🙂
This was my first Martha Wells book, but yeah, some authors are just like that where you like some of their stuff but not all of it!
This sounds just ok but thanks for letting us know about this one.
I guess we can’t love every book.
I read Wells Murderbot series but this sounds so different. I had the same problem with that series as you had with this book though.
After loving the first book, I started to feel very disconnected from the main character as they just kept walking around from crisis to crisis. The concept is cool but delivery less so.
Karen @For What It’s Worth
I haven’t read that one. That’s interesting though that you noticed the same sort of thing as I noticed here. Yeah, I really need to feel more connected to a character and what they’re thinking/feeling to love a book.