Several different people independently told me that this book was worth reading, so I actually bought a copy instead of checking it out from the library. On one sense, it’s a story I’ve read before. Girl (usually it’s a boy) gets summoned the capital of a large, magical, all-powerful empire to inherit all despite her humble origins.
But the catch is, it’s stunningly creative. First of all, Yeine is not exactly a humble farmboy. She’s been trained to rule in her own land. Secondly, their god Itempas, although he is the god of light, is not exactly a nice guy. The fallen gods, the dark god and his children, are actually present within the palace, and fullblooded family members like Yeine have the ability to command them. Their family use these fallen gods as weapons against their enemies.
The members of Yeine’s aristocratic family within the palace known as Sky are as decadent and twisted as any dark Sidhe I’ve read about. Sky itself is dangerous, not just because of its inhabitants but also because of the gods and the magic within it. Yeine doesn’t care very much about that danger, however, because she knows she’s being used as a pawn, that she will die soon.
There’s a bit of a romance (and deliciously Byronic, without a hint of vampire) and there’s more than a little political machination and mystery. The world is sufficiently complex without being obtuse, and Yeine’s conflicts felt meaningful. My only real complaint was that it dragged a little in the middle. I would have liked another subplot to speed up the pace as the details of Yeine’s family history revealed themselves.