Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Audiobook Review: Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett

Title: Onyx and Ivory (Rime Chronicles #1)
Author: Mindee Arnett
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 500
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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.

Onyx and Ivory has been on my shelf since before it was published. I kept intending to read it, but it's just SO long that I never committed. Recently I joined a local YA book club and our first read was this book, which finally gave me a good reason to pick it up. I'm glad I started early because it took me a solid 3 weeks to get through this 15 hour audiobook.

Kate, also known as Traitor Kate, is the main character of this story. After her father was executed for being a traitor, she left her town and began a new life with new friends and a new job. She also has wilder magic that could get her killed if found out. When Kate's childhood friend Prince Corwin reappears in her life, things begin to spiral and she finds herself in one  dangerous situation after another.

I mostly enjoyed Kate and Corwin and their romance. Kate was the kind of strong heroine I like reading about and it was easy to sympathize with her tragic backstory. Corwin was probably my favorite character in this story. I enjoyed seeing him grow as a character, especially towards the end of the book. The romance between the two was okay, but needed something more. It seemed almost like an afterthought, and wasn't really given enough of the story to develop into something amazing. Perhaps these two will be more fleshed out in the next book. Overall, no strong feelings about either of these characters.

My biggest gripe about Onyx and Ivory is the length. Somehow it managed to be massive at 500 pages, while also taking forever to get anything done, AND cramming in a ridiculous amount of plot points. There were so many silly side plots that really don't need to exist at all. It's both way too much and not enough. I was legitimately bored through most of the first half, though it thankfully picks up later on. Thankfully it did have a pretty good plot twist towards the end.

Another issue is the lack of world building. This book focuses on one kingdom and mostly one town in that kingdom and there's really no mention of the outside world or how they function. The main threat from the beginning are the nightdrakes, which develop a bit throughout the book. I wish more had been written about how they're handled in other kingdoms. Are they a threat everywhere? Is wilder magic a threat everywhere? How do other kingdoms manage these threats? There was a lot that was unclear. Again, maybe things will be further explained in the coming books, but I feel like 500 pages should be enough to make the world pretty clear.

I really wanted to love Onyx and Ivory and really expected to! Unfortunately, it just wasn't for me. I was bored and confused. I wanted more world building and character development and less random side plots. The other two girls who read it for the book club really enjoyed it! Sadly, I doubt I'll be picking up the next book in the series.