Rating: 4 stars
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Henigo Idra is an Imalt-wor, one of the undisputed lawkeepers of the land who answer solely to the king, otherwise known as “Reds.” He is adheres strictly to the law and takes his missions, as well as his life, very seriously. Asdelar Lorem is a Banam-hin, the elite guard and highly-trained swordsmen of both the palace and the royal city, otherwise known as “Blades.” The groups, known as the King’s Gravemen, seldom work together, but when the king’s favorite niece goes missing, Henigo and Asdelar are tasked with finding her and returning her safely to her family.
From the start, Henigo and Asdelar butt heads. Asdelar, who is unaccustomed to traveling outside of the palace and surrounding city, is seemingly enjoying the mission if only to get to know more of the world outside palace walls. And Henigo, who is unaccustomed to traveling with a talkative, flirtatious, nosy man, only wants to find their charge in order to be rid of the Blade.
Learning to trust one another is a chore as Henigo seems to trust no one. As the mystery of the missing niece plays out, Henigo and Asdelar fight against obstacles, jealousies, and thieves. And as they travel further together in distance and closer to the truth, they must learn to trust each other if they plan to survive.
As a debut novel, The Gravemen by Melissa North is a great start and quite promising. The story is full of mystery and adventure. It’s not a romance, per se, but it’s a fantasy and mystery with a side of the lovey-dovey. It’s a story with a fairytale quality, but with two strong, confident men. The action scenes are exciting. The arguments are frustrating. And the adventure is fun and entertaining. It’s well written with good pacing and great balance.
I had fun getting to know these characters. Their personalities are complete opposites, no matter how similar their work is. Henigo is a very literal kind of guy. He takes his work and his life very seriously. He doesn’t understand the need to loosen up or have fun. He is the mission to the end. Asdelar is fun and laid back. He takes his job seriously, but it doesn’t define him. They are complete opposites, yet they complement one another so well.
I only have a few quibbles with the book. For about half of the book, each man called the other by names not matching the narration. For example Henigo calls Asdelar “Lorem,” which I later found out was his last name, but it’s rather confusing and distracting at first. Next, the Benam-hin are known for their beautiful armor, yet it was never described other than saying that it’s more for decoration that protection. I was disappointed because the armor is the focal point of the cover so I expected it to be at least part of the story. The last thing is more of a pet peeve of mine. There are several times throughout the book that I wasn’t sure whose point of view I was reading. The POV seemed to flip back and forth. Personally I like there to be some sort of physical separation in the editing to let me know that the POV has changed, but I didn’t get that with this book.
In the end, The Gravemen is a good story of opposites attract. I enjoyed the mystery and adventure as well as the characters. Even with the small quibbles I had with the story, it was still very enjoyable. And I hope to see more of this author’s work in the future. Recommended.