Onyx & Ivory
Release date: May 15th 2018
They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king years ago. Now Kate lives as an outcast, clinging to the fringes of society as a member of the Relay, the imperial courier service. Only those most skilled in riding and bow hunting ride for the Relay; and only the fastest survive, for when dark falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals. But it’s this magic that she needs to keep hidden, as being a wilder is forbidden, punishable by death or exile. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by nightdrakes in broad daylight—the only survivor her childhood friend, her first love, the boy she swore to forget, the boy who broke her heart.
The high king’s second son, Corwin Tormane, never asked to lead. Even as he waits for the uror—the once-in-a-generation ritual to decide which of the king’s children will succeed him—he knows it’s always been his brother who will assume the throne. And that’s fine by him. He’d rather spend his days away from the palace, away from the sight of his father, broken with sickness from the attempt on his life. But the peacekeeping tour Corwin is on has given him too much time to reflect upon the night he saved his father’s life—the night he condemned the would-be killer to death and lost the girl he loved. Which is why he takes it on himself to investigate rumors of unrest in one of the remote city-states, only for his caravan to be attacked—and for him to be saved by Kate.
With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin have to put the past behind them. The threat of drakes who attack in the daylight is only the beginning of a darker menace stirring in the kingdom—one whose origins have dire implications for Kate’s father’s attack upon the king and will thrust them into the middle of a brewing civil war in the kingdom of Rime.
Every time I read a new Mindee Arnett series, I feel like it hooks me even more quickly than the last did. The synopsis of this one sounded really interesting, maybe a little similar to other fantasy novels, but I was confident Mindee Arnett would put a spin on it that would make me love it. And I did. The history, the world-building, and the characters were more than enough to make up for the tropes used and I found myself getting sucked deeper and deeper into the story the more I read, which was exactly what should happen.
It was told in the two POVs of Kate and Corwin. Kate, nicknamed Traitor Kate due to her father’s attempt to kill the king a few years before, tried to stay under the radar working as a member of the Relay. She had the power to connect with animals, understand them, control them, though she only used her powers when absolutely necessary. Her magic, like many others, was forbidden and if she were caught, it would be death. Corwin was the second born son of the king, childhood friend of Kate before her father tried to kill his, and someone who never expected to contend for the throne. Their paths collide during Corwin’s peacekeeping tour and it really ended up changing everything. I enjoyed both these characters, together and separate. Kate was strong, determined to find the truth about why her father tried to kill the king, his friend, and she bravely went back to the city where it all happened even though she knew the reception she would get. Corwin was battling some demons and unsure about his ability to lead, feeling unworthy of the throne he’ll likely never have anyway. I liked how these two were childhood friends who knew each other better than anyone but, after the event with their fathers and a few years apart where they both changed, they were almost strangers. There were so many moments to remind us how close they used to be and just how much their relationship had changed.
I absolutely loved the supporting cast. Mindee Arnett is so great at writing supporting characters that I love just as much as the leads. Kate’s friends Tom Bonner and Signe were so loyal but they also had great stories on their own. They weren’t there just to support Kate. Tom was like a brother and Signe was her hilarious, never boring best friend. Corwin’s best friend Dal made up the last of their group and he as well was more than simply a character to prop up Corwin. He was the last born son of a low Lord, always quick with a joke and looking for adventure. They were a great group with interesting dynamics and that’s something I will always love in books.
The plot had a lot of key components. Kate’s search for the truth about her father, the nightdrakes/daydrakes that were attacking travelers around the kingdom, and the ritual battle for the throne between Corwin and his brother. All three wove into each other and were equally important. It also felt like learning something new in one plot could lead to something new in one of the other plots. It was intriguing and kept me reading. There were surprises, some more easily guessed than others, but overall, I really enjoyed it.
And I also really want the next book.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.