I absolutely adored THE UNSPOKEN NAME when I first read it, and loved it even more on the reread. This was one of my most anticipated 2022 releases, so I was delighted when Tor sent me a finished copy to read and review. I started reading the audiobook, but ended up swapping to the physical copy because I felt the overwhelming urge to tab as I went – which I have only ever done for Harrow the Ninth before. That should tell you how much I loved this sequel.
Thanks to Tor for the review copy of this book. It has not affected my honest review.
About the book:
Two years ago, Csorwe and Shuthmili defied the wizard Belthandros Sethennai and stole his gauntlets. The gauntlets have made Shuthmili extraordinarily powerful, but they’re beginning to take a sinister toll on her. She and Csorwe travel to a distant world to discover how to use the gauntlets safely, but when an old enemy arrives on the scene, Shuthmili finds herself torn between clinging to her humanity and embracing eldritch power.
Meanwhile, Tal Charossa returns to Tlaanthothe to find that Sethennai has gone missing. As well as being a wizard of unimaginable power, Sethennai is Tal’s old boss and former lover, and Tal wants nothing to do with him. When a magical catastrophe befalls the city, Tal tries to run rather than face his past, but soon learns that something even worse may lurk in the future. Throughout the worlds of the Echo Maze, fragments of an undead goddess begin to awaken, and not all confrontations can be put off forever…
What did I think?
There was not a single moment in this book where I knew what was going to happen next. Not one solitary second did I even have a prediction for what would happen next, let alone an accurate prediction. And I loved every second of it. I read this one slowly over a few days, savouring the story, and I already want to reread both of them back to back to pick up any hints that I’ve almost certainly missed and to tab them to hell. The writing in this book is equal parts beautiful and hilarious, and I tabbed so many moments where I outright laughed out loud. As much as I loved THE UNSPOKEN NAME I do think that this was my favourite in the duology. Why? Tal fucking Charossa.
Tal was my favourite character in the first book, and I only fell more in love with him in this book. A Tal book is all I could have ever hoped for, and not even in my wildest dreams would I have hoped for Tal Charossa as the grumpy reluctant mentor-slash-parent with the peppy sunshine child. I would like to read approximately 400 books about Tal and Tsereg just living their sassy lives. Tal’s character arc was phenomenal, honestly. He is rapidly climbing the list of one of my favourite characters ever, and I think he’d be just as shocked to be loved that much as I am to suddenly be obsessed with him. It’s difficult to talk in detail without spoilers, but there were so many moments in this book where I felt ridiculously proud of his choices. Look at my grouchy gay go. And fuck you Belthandros, even if you are kind of badass.
This book also explored Shuthmili’s character a little more, and I really liked getting to learn more about her and Zinandour. I wasn’t super interested in Shuthmili in the first book, though I did like her and Csorwe’s relationship, and the depth of her character arc (without going into details again) was really interesting to me and I enjoyed it a lot. Csorwe and Shuthmili’s relationship is beautiful and I loved their loyalty to each other and the way they were very much ride or die, for better or for worse. Through their relationship, and especially Shuthmili, we got to learn more about the magic system and divinities and I really hope there are more books in this universe because I absolutely adore the divinity system. The Serpent’s Gates duology is, in my opinion, a fairly unusual fantasy and rejuvenated my love for this genre.
The plot went in a way I couldn’t have predicted, and I was desperate to find out more as I went along. And ultimately I was so satisfied with the ending of this duology. I’ve been a little disappointed by sequels lately, so my expectations weren’t high, and instead I was blown out of the water. I loved the way that this ended and I can see myself reading this duology over and over again.
Release Date: 15th February 2022