I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. Coming up with a way to first introduce The Unspoken Name in a review is, at the very least, complicated This is a novel with many layers and many aspects that cohabit peacefully with one another, and to put focus on one before the others would be to build wrongful expectations for what is the end result.and there I tricked you by giving you what I feel like should be the first thing to keep in mind when going into this novel If you expect it to be fantasy than scifi, or plot than characters, or characters than plot, or relationships than characters, then you ll end up expecting something this novel isn t.Keeping that in mind, now we can move on and talk about the different aspects The first thing I realized I liked about this book was the writing I will admit it does feel like a debut novel but like, in a good way that makes me want to read the author s future books and see how she improves based on what I already know she does well I personally love when authors don t force feed you information about characters intentions and feelings reactions at any given moment but let you understand it from the context and what you already know about them I think this aspect was excellent and it had sometimes hilarious, sometimes powerful effects in moments that would have been spoiled by an overly detailed description I also think each character s voice was very distinct and immediately recognizable Speaking of which, I think characters and relationships are where this book truly shined for me Amidst a lot of plot and action, these characters bleed through the pages and you absorb them slowly, as you would with a real person By the end they all felt real in a way that doesn t always happen with fantasy, and I truly Felt for their relationships.The romantic aspect was really enjoyable but to be honest, not my favorite part It was, I guess, just not as present as I usually like it to be, but I do feel that the sapphic relationship was very naturally built up and cute I was also under the wrong impression I don t remember if because of reviews or why that there would also be a side m m romance but there is not if you ve read it and see a romance in ThatI really don t know what to tell you , and I would like to add thank the Nine Gods I don t think there s anyone here who s allocishet but anyway there are like three confirmed mlm characters at least one of them is bi pan and three wlw ones The plot was intriguing and I was never bored I do think it had some pacing issues, not something that necessarily always bothered me for example, I love when it got a little slower for the sake of showing us certain characters and relationships , but it did make things a little weird in a couple of points If you re someone who cares a lot about plot and pacing, you might notice and care about this than I did.The worldbuilding is so unique and I m not even going to pretend like I ve understood how things work well enough to be able to talk about them but basically it s a fantasy scifi setting in which together with high fantasy elements we also have uhh,, space ships and you can jump between worlds So, would I recommend this Absolutely If you re into adult fantasy and or casually queer sapphic books then this one is for you And I m really looking forward to the next book by the way, this book can be a standalone because it has an arc that s fully resolved by the end, which is even reason to give it a try , hoping it will follow Tal my favorite character tbh.TWs human animal sacrifices, violence, gore, drug use, death, alcohol, self mutilation YAASSSS Thank you so much, Tor, for my ARC This story sounds incredible and I will definitely be picking it up super soon Original Tor, continuing to bring heavy fantasy game in 2020 This sounds EPIC What If You Knew How And When You Will Die Csorwe Does She Will Climb The Mountain, Enter The Shrine Of The Unspoken, And Gain The Most Honored Title SacrificeBut On The Day Of Her Foretold Death, A Powerful Mage Offers Her A New Fate Leave With Him, And Live Turn Away From Her Destiny And Her God To Become A Thief, A Spy, An Assassin The Wizard S Loyal Sword Topple An Empire, And Help Him Reclaim His Seat Of PowerBut Csorwe Will Soon Learn Gods Remember, And If You Live Long Enough, All Debts Come Due A heroine rejects honorable martyrdom for a life of debauchery and lawlessness and joins the villain s side SAY NO MORE AND TAKE MY MONEY YOU HAD ME AT ASSASSIN AND MAGE A K Larkwood s The Unspoken Name is among the most creative, exciting, and brilliantly told epic fantasy novels I ve read It is an immersive experience that grabbed my attention early on, then grew at a staggering rate until I found myself being launched through fantastic worlds, meeting wonderful characters, and caught in a magnetic prose that left me spellbound Larkwood has a tremendous talent for building upon the best parts of what makes fantasy great and elevates it all with her own dash of chaos and wonder Simply put, it is an outstanding debut I won t soon forget.I won t reveal much of the plot and take anything away from the author, but I ll discuss what is shared in the book s description We open the story by meeting young Csorwe, a grey, tusked teenager who was born for the sole purpose of sacrifice to an underground god upon reaching a certain age Side note the term orc is never used in the book, and while Csorwe shares common traits with the classic interpretation of an orc, it may be reductive to call her one and limit your take on who she really is Moments before Csorwe s sacrifice, a man named Belthandros Sethennai justt one of a myriad of great names in this book offers to save her life and whisk her away to work in his service Sethennai has goals of his own he must reclaim his home from which he was exiled and seek knowledge of an impossible myth These plot points alone sound substantial enough to fill the pages of the book, but in fact, its story has just begun You have looked your foretold death in the face and turned from it in defiance Nothing in this world or any other deserves your fear The Unspoken Name is many things it is a tale of sacrifice and vengeance, abandonment and exile, loyalty and true love It is an expansive universe that crosses over into different worlds via a dimension called the Echo Maze, navigable by air ships, which adds a science fiction aspect to the story The Echo Maze is a trans dimensional plane where cosmic paths converge, and innumerable portals known as Gates are used for passenger ships to travel between these worlds The use of these Gates has led to various cultures of magic, races, cities, and religions to intersect in interesting ways, and Larkwood smartly weaves its repercussions into the fabric of Csorwe s story.One of the many, many aspects of the story that stood out was how selective the author was in her descriptions of some of the bigger concepts, such as the ships, the details of the Gates, and the Echo Maze itself The reader is given information on how things functioned, but the rest is often left to our imagination, which is a decision that I enjoyed immensely There is so much story packed into this novel that I felt that adding extra details would take some fun away from the reader as well as slowing down the absolute blistering pace of the book.Events happen at an astounding rate Plot points that I thought would last the entirety of the book were resolved long before the halfway mark The book felt like it had multiple finales and your heart will run the gamut of emotions Csorwe remained the backbone of the story, but we spent a lot of time inside the heads of the supporting cast, sometimes for just a few pages, and other times for a bit longer It was always for just enough time to understand other characters motivations, reactions, plans, and the emotional fallout of events before moving on to another POV And when many of the characters were inevitably brought together, Lockwood shined in letting us view certain events through multiple pairs of eyes In doing so, the characters felt richer and the scenes carried emotional weight The narratives were balanced well, and the emotional stakes never felt one sided The Unspoken Name is the best kind of surprise I had heard nothing about it but selected an advanced copy due to its interesting premise and wonderfully mysterious cover This turned out to be one of the very best decisions I ve made all year It is an affecting story that hits all the right notes This is a book that any fan of fantasy would do well to put at the top of their reading list Do not miss it ARC from publisher Tor via Edelweiss On sale February 11, 2020. Tor must have heard me begging the gods for a high fantasy novel written by a woman because my prayers have been answered Not only is this book so unlike anything I ve ever read, it s incredibly well done I speak as someone who hasn t read a ton of high fantasy though Csorwe s story is one that will stay with me for a while and I highly recommend you all preorder this one special thanks to Tor for sending me an arc of this in exchange for an honest review Larkwood has filled The Unspoken Name with some absolutely amazing stuff and the star of the show is Csorwe, a teenage Orc girl raised from birth to be a sacrificial virgin for a god who dwells in a deep cave among revenants the undead On almost a lark at the moment she alone enters the dark cave as the chosen bride of the Unspoken one, she runs off with a visiting wizard and becomes his apprentice for years on end But the mountain where the monastery is happens to be but a small corner of the universe of this book As Csorwe finds out, there are endless worlds, each filled with its own magic, it s own gods, and its own ancient ruins To traverse between worlds, one must traverse the Maze of Echoes Some of these worlds are described in intricate detail and the writing is poetic when describing these ancient worlds and the buried powers within And, of course, there is the quest for the Holy Grail, here referred to as the Reliquary, an ancient tool of vast magical power The story is beset with giant serpents, walking dead men, wizards and priestesses wielding spells, and Indeed, when Csorwe meets the giant serpent, it almost Bilbo word dueling with the dragon Smaug It would have been interesting had attention been paid to the fact the main character was a gray skinned, Tusked, Orc Other than an early allusion to a tusk being broken, the fact of her being an orc is rarely mentioned and seemingly not pertinent Corswe seems for the most part basically a teenage apprentice, not an orc and lacked that otherness a focus on orc hood would ve brought Although there is a pronunciation guide at the beginning, the names of people and places in this book were nearly impossible to pronounce as one reads through it The names may have added authenticity but ended up detracting from smooth reading All in all, there were some great concepts at the heart of this fantasy, but as a reader one simply never fully entered this world and became fully immersed in it. me, screaming I will go down with this friend shipWhere has this queer high fantasy book been all my life Kai is shooketh.I wish I knew where to start There are so many aspects of this book that filled me with pure joy frenemies, world building, characters, twists, diversity No hard feelings Ugh.I m going to start with the one thing that could have been improved the pacing Overall, this is a finely plotted story It spans over 8 to 9 years and I think it wouldn t have hurt to stretch the story , give it a little to breathe for the characters to evolve, grow I felt this especially in the beginning, when we see Csorwe turn from a quiet, nondescript girl into a warrior and spy I see how the time jumps were necessary to let the author tell the story she wanted to tell, but another 50 pages or so might have given it depth.Now that we got the unpleasant things out of the way, hear me gush about all the great stuff I cannot believe how, in a matter of chapters, A.K Larkwood created a fictional universe so rich and original A universe in which thriving and dying worlds lie side by side, connected through a labyrinthine structure called the Maze The universe is populated by all kinds of different people who seems to live peacefully side by side, for the most part They all have their own history, traditions, social and political systems, and beliefs And while they clearly look different and come from various backgrounds, their differences don t lead them to hate and fight each other This is not to say that they all run around holding hands and loving life, but at least their outer appearance and faith don t serve as an excuse to disrespect and exploit each other Overall, the attention to detail and the societies, cities, realms that the author built are utterly fascinating and I m so glad that this isn t a standalone I couldn t live knowing that there remains so much left to discover.The characters were a joy Csorwe reminds me of Harry Potter in the way the she is or less an average person No shade She is balanced, doesn t necessarily lean towards extremes, and therein lies her strength it makes her relatable She is a character with fears, dreams and hopes like anyone else She s also pretty queer, like most if not all characters in the book It s also great to see that no character experiences discrimination because of their sexual orientation It s never once questioned Because in a perfect world, why would anyone think of you as lesser just because you don t care about what gender you fall in love with Something else that I found striking was how there is no main antagonist This is not to say that Csorwe doesn t have enemies She has lots of those But alliances change a lot based on whether people have similar goals and decide to work together even though they might have been on different sides before It s refreshing and creates unexpected turns and entertaining character dynamics.One thing about the characters Usually I live for queer ships But what almost drove me nuts was the friendship hateship between Csorwe and Tal They both work for the same guy and should combine forces, work as a team But they simply despise each other too much At the same time they can t live without the other Tal is a bastard, don t get me wrong, but I love him And I want nothing than for these two idiots to annoy the f ck out of each other until the very end of this series And I also want No hard feelings. to be what History, huhwas for Red, White Royal Blue If you don t know what I m talking about, you better read RWRB quickly because you re missing out.Suffice it to say that this was my high fantasy adventure of the year.Find of my books on Instagram 4.5 STARSUnspoken and Unspeakable One, Knight of Abyss, Overseer of the Eaten Worlds, praise and reverence unto your Chosen Bride May she intercede for us What an exceptional debut The Unspoken Name is difficult to summarize the story is an ambitious blend of epic high fantasy and space opera science fiction, which will tickle the fancy of fans of both tremendously From the very beginning, I got the vibe that this book would be the lovechild of the writing styles and world building of Brandon Sanderson and Ken Follett How an author can take so many aspects of my favorite genres and include a storytelling format in league with the giants in the writing industry is beyond me, but Larkwood has done just that There is a lot of story packed into just shy of 500 pages and it s very dark overall, but there is action and gore galore, while also including a steady balance of thought provoking thematic elements surrounding the choices we make and the outcomes that they produce If you enjoy a new take on a familiar tale, please consider picking this one up I enjoyed it so much that I ll be purchasing a finished hardcover for my personal collectionThis is me, in two weeks time Here I am, walking up to the Shrine This is the end This is how it will feel at the end Thy name shall be forsaken and thou shalt be my bride Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy via NetGalley.