What to say about the Genre Week Challenge? It certainly was a challenge, as I am not usually a fan of high fantasy, and really had to set aside my personal preferences in order to do Obsidian Sun justice.
While on a hunting trip, Talac spellweaver Anan suddenly feels his mating bond snap, unheard of, unless the mate has died. No longer concerned with food, Anan rushes back to his encampment only to discover utter devastation. The velvet-skinned Talac’s encampment has been decimated, except for one spell spinner. The death and devastation is due to Varas slavers traveling through Talac with the single-minded goal of restocking their slaves. Terja and Anan perform a bloodweaving ceremony looking to the Twining Gods for their support in avenging the dead and rescuing the survivors.
Their journey to rescue those held captive takes them first to the deathspinners for thread, but their instructions are vague at best on how to harvest a deathspinners egg and secure the thread necessary for their quest’s success. The tapestry gives instructions, but they are confusing. Does it really say that the protective threads can be produced from the “little death” and how can a spinner and a weaver achieve the goal when a union of the two is forbidden?
With the fate of their people at stake, Terja and Anan must figure out how to harvest the deathspinner thread without losing their own lives, enabling Anan to weave the spells that they need to save the survivors of the many Talac clans destroyed by the Varas. Geir, leader of the Varas raiding party, fears that the Talac slaves won’t make it to the Varas auction block, and the ones too damaged will end up in the sex pits, because money is money, after all.
The question then becomes, how can Anan and Terja save the survivors when they are so greatly outnumbered?
So I picked a tough one, that’s for sure. With two glossaries, high emotional triggers, and quite a bit of violence, Obsidian Sun was as the blurb suggested, but far more intense. From a personal standpoint, anything to do with slavery is a no-go, and so not only was this a genre that is not the norm for me, but it also included that element that I avoid under normal circumstances.
The book had two storylines, that of Terja and Anan, the would-be saviors, as well as the slavers themselves and the Talac captives, mainly focussing on two Talacs, Jovan and Morea, who are survivors of the attack. By doing this, Keys effectively builds empathy for the protagonists, and the right amount of disdain and, dare I say, hatred for the Varas slavers and especially for Xain, a traitorous Talac Spellweaver.
I liked the dynamic between Anan and Terja, how they perceived each other at first meeting, and the growth they experienced as they worked together and got to know each other. Both were raised to believe that the velvet and non-velvet could not be together, and there is gradual growth and acceptance that their different appearances were not as important as originally thought. This shift in attitude reflects our own cultural views, which are admittedly better than they used to be 10, 20, or 30 years ago.
The Varas slavers were pretty much everything you could ask for in antagonists: cruel, heartless, and self-centered, but sometimes things are not as they at first appear. I am not saying that I ever liked the any of the Varas, but there was a time when I understood how someone would be motivated to act one way out of desperation versus simply being a sadistic individual to the core, inflicting pain and suffering for the sake of personal pleasure.
There were many words and names created for this world and I did appreciate that they were different, but still easy to pronounce, and Keys did describe the arid landscape and the deathspinner’s valley quite well. What I did wonder about was the how the two timelines managed to converge when Anan and Terja spent so much time preparing to confront the slavers and free their people, all the while, the slavers were travelling back to Varas. Another oddity was that at one point in Terja and Anan’s journey, they witnessed a series of events, but I am not sure how they themselves were not seen, and it just didn’t quite mesh for me.
The end result was an interesting, but slow read at first, that had situations that I felt mirrored our own society, both past and present. The pace and story also really picked up near the end and had me on the edge of my seat until the conclusion. For those reasons, I would not hesitate to recommend Obsidian Sun.
This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for Genre Challenge Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win this week’s fabulous prize of all 12 books released in September, plus an audiobook, from Less Than Three Press, as well as our amazing grand prize sponsored by Riptide Publishing. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on Genre Challenge Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.