Books & Literature

Book Review: The Thousand Eyes: The Serpent Gates Book 2, by A.K. Larkwood

FANTASY: Brilliant, bold and thrilling, The Thousand Eyes by A. K. Larkwood is the epic fantasy sequel to The Unspoken Name.

A brilliantly written fantasy with high stakes and stunning worldbuilding.
5

The Thousand Eyes is as compelling as its predecessor, The Unspoken Name. It is described as a sequel, though it is unclear whether the series will continue. Although you had to have read the first book in order to make sense of the second, both novels had conclusive endings, thankfully not leaving readers in suspense for years while waiting for the next book to come out!

The Thousand Eyes continues the stories of Csorwe, Shuthmili, and Tal, now working as mercenary scavengers making a living by surveying dying worlds. However, when they accidentally awaken a warrior who had been in a magical sleep for aeons, they reignite an ancient conflict. Csorwe is drawn into the cause, leaving Shuthmili to make an impossible choice to save the woman she loves. Tal’s story continues as he escapes and heads home, only to find that a magical catastrophe has hit his home city. The entire story follows twists and turns and one high-stakes choice after another.

The worldbuilding across the series is unique and very cool, consisting of highly unstable magic and equally unstable deities, lands that can be travelled between via portals, and races of people with features that are a far cry from the traditional elves and dwarves, including people with grey skin and tusks, or leaf-shaped ears that twitch, or shape-shifting snake people. The worlds, cultures, and rules have been considered in great detail, and the end result is a fascinating world in which the story takes place.

However, it is the characters that really make this story. It is their personalities, and the way their own tendencies work against them, that lead them to make plot-driving choices. This is a truly character-driven story, and one that allows Csorwe’s stubbornness, Shuthmili’s devotion, or Tal’s self-interest to make the situation better or worse (usually worse).

Each of the significant characters are unique, highly flawed, and have their own particular way of thinking and speaking. Points of view do change regularly throughout the chapters, but there is never any confusion regarding which voice has taken over the narrative. While these larger-than-life characters could risk falling into two-dimensional caricatures, they manage to keep a certain realism to their reactions and thought-processes.

This has quickly become my new favourite fantasy series, and I sincerely hope this is not the last we see of A.K. Larkwood. Anyone looking for an edgy queer fantasy that is just brilliantly written should look here, as should fans of N.K. Jemisin or Ursula Le Guin.

Reviewed by Kristin Stefanoff

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Pan Macmillan Australia
Released: February 2022
RRP: $32.99

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