Author: Victor Gischler
Release Date: April 29, 2014
In the first installment of the A Fire Beneath the Skin trilogy, the city of Klaar has never fallen. No enemy has ever made it across the Long Bridge or penetrated the city’s mighty walls. Even when a powerful invading army shows up at the gates, the duke and his daughter, Rina Veraiin, are certain that it poses little threat.
But they are cruelly betrayed from within and, in a horrific spasm of violence, the city is brought to its knees.
With the help of her bodyguard, Kork, the battle-trained young Rina narrowly escapes the slaughter and makes her way to the lair of an ancient sorcerer—the Ink Mage—who gifts her with a strange, beautiful set of magical tattoos.
Now a duchess in exile, Rina sets out on a quest to reclaim what is rightfully hers, aided by a motley assortment of followers who will help her in her cause—some for noble reasons and others for their own dark purposes.
With the enemy’s agents nipping at her heels, Rina must learn to harness her new and startling magical powers if she is to assert her rightful place as ruler of Klaar.
I got this audiobook because for ages it was recommended to me on Audible. I was falsely informed that this book was YA. It is not.
I listen to a lot of adult fantasy, and this definitely counted. The main character is relatively young, but that's all that could be called young adult about this book. It's fairly grotesque, gory, and graphic where things generally wouldn't be for YA. The writing style also didn't really fit in with YA. I'm fine with that, but a word of warning. It's not young adult.
There are two things in this book that I noticed would be easily offensive. 1) There is a mention of a kingdom of "savages". They're a foreign kingdom that believes in magic, and not much else is learned about them. 2) The word "gypsy" is used casually, both as a slur and not. It's used throughout most of the book.
I don't get offended easily, but I know those two things can be offensive to others. I would still like to review the book with those two things set aside.
It's a pretty typical fantasy novel. There is a war, a duchess is trying to get her title back. There is some magic, some big fights, and some magic. It's pretty typical. Not much really stands out except for the actual ink mage tattoos. Instead of casting spells and whatnot, having the tattoo allows the bearer some special ability while they tap into the spirit (basically a magical energy).
The book is honestly pretty predictable. And the villain goes down with a sort of Deus Ex Machina (it's not 100%, but it's definitely there). Because of this, the ending was kind of disappointing. I was expecting more of an epic battle and got... what I got. Still, I'm curious what happens in the next book. I'll probably check it out from the library.
Honestly, if you read a lot of adult fantasy, you've probably read something similar. You can probably skip this one.
Characters: 4 stars
Plot: 3 stars
Writing: 4 stars
World: 2 stars
Feels: 2 stars