Review of Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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.
This is one of those books that leaves you with the question: why didn’t I read this sooner!?
Onyx and Ivory is a truly stunning story that captivated me from the moment Kate and her steed Pip were introduced. Mindee Arnett has created a fascinating and complex world with the Kingdom of Rime, it’s history rich and it’s people full of passion for their causes.
I loved the representations of friendship, love and family we see in this story, for there are many forms present – each one driving the characters toward a precipice of discovery that cannot be unlearned.
Not only is this a story about Kate Brighton – Traitor Kate – it is also the story of Corwin Tormane, the Errant Prince of Rime who disappeared for two years after Kate’s father betrayed the throne. Where was he all that time and who is he now?
Kate herself, rider with the Relay (think: Pony Express), wields forbidden wilder magic and must keep is concealed from most around her, for its discovery means her death. The stakes become even more dire when her and her companions are offered a place back amongst the court, an opportunity she seizes, hoping it will bring her the answer of why her father attempted to kill his king and friend.
This story encompasses powerful and dangerous magic, dragon-like creatures called drakes, courtly intrigue, well built friendships, faithful horses and compelling romance. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for something that is both traditional fantasy but also something new entirely! I absolutely loved it and was sucked in the moment I started it. The audiobook is also fantastic, narrated by veteran voice actor Khristine Hvam (known for Daughter of Smoke & Bone and the Country Saga).
Can’t wait for the next!
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