Live. Learn. Burn.
by K.A. Krantz
Blood-beings can be chattel or char.
Fire seethes through the veins of every Morsam, demanding domination and destruction. Combat is a hobby. Slaughtering the inferior blood-beings is entertainment. Life is a repetitious cycle in the prison fashioned by the gods. But mix-race abomination Vadrigyn os Harlo suspects the key to freedom lies with safeguarding the blood-beings; until her blood-born mother uses foreign magic to turn the Morsam against Vadrigyn. Betrayed, bound, and broken, Vadrigyn struggles against the dying of her essential fire. Yet the ebbing flames unleash the dormant magic of her mixed heritage…
The magic to destroy free will.
Seized by the gods and dumped in the desert nation of Larcout to stop history from repeating, Vadrigyn discovers her mother’s legacy of treason and slaughter still festers. To survive the intrigues of the royal court, the roiling undercurrents of civil war, and the gods themselves, Vadrigyn must unravel the conspiracy behind her mother’s banishment. But manipulating free will unleashes a torrent of consequences.
If she fails the gods, she will return to the Morsam prison, stripped of all magic and all hope.
If she succeeds, she can rule a nation.
Kasthu. Roborgu. Inarchma.
Live. Learn. Burn.
This one made the final round, and I can see why. The writing is nice and flowing, the story is compelling, and both of those facts put together make this book incredible readable.
The first few chapters of the book kind of boggled my mind as a lot of information and details are thrown at the reader without much of an explanation. It felt incredibly chaotic. If you push through those chapters, sort of file all the details away in your hindbrain until later, you will be rewarded. The book, after that, gains a bit of confidence and the story seems to start to tell its story much easier than that forced start.
Larcout is full of intrigue. There are layers and layers of plot here, that seem to wrap and weave around each other. It all clicks into place eventually, but I did keep coming back to the feeling I had during those first few chapters at odd occasions. Sometimes the plot felt forced. Sometimes there was a bit too much going on. Sometimes the secondary characters were confusing, or I had a hard time differentiating between people/places/events. This wasn’t a constant feeling, but it did reoccur at random occasions throughout the novel.
Part of the reason why I think that was the case was because of how much is going on in this novel. Krantz is building a world, cultures, and political systems. On top of that, there is the creation of characters to populate this world, the struggles those characters go through, and a nice dash of intrigue on top of it. There is a lot of information in all of that, and I think sometimes Krantz infodumps, or maybe tries to force the information out too quickly. And to be honest with you, I understand why. This book is an epic, and as with all epics, there is a lot here that the author wants their readers to chew on, but I did feel like it overwhelmed the plot at certain points – too much information forced out too quickly, and it did cause some confusion.
Vadrigyn, our POV character, is an interesting character to follow. She is violent, but Krantz never pushes that violence over-the-top. She’s also sort of a fish out of water in some respects, and a lot of really interesting developments circle around her challenges, and her personal growth and development. It’s quite well done, and as a POV character, she’s really addicting. Sometimes I felt like her motivations and movements were a little confusing, but by and large, that was easy to ignore. Circling back to the fish out of water comment, that fish-out-of-water-ness is part of why I adored her as a POV character so much. Krantz really makes readers feel just how different Vadrigyn feels compared to those around her, and that feeling really resonated with me and helped me care about the character, and the story being told.
The world is fairly well built, though I’m a sucker for details and I found myself wanting a few more of those details throughout the novel, but unless you’re like me and you really fixate on that stuff, then you probably won’t even notice it. This book had a sort of dark atmosphere and tone, which makes sense once you get into it. I was pleased by just how well Krantz worked the atmosphere to the advantage of the book as a whole.
Larcout is an ambitious novel. There is a lot going on here, and the book sometimes gets bogged down by its own explanations/movements/politics. The start is slow and requires a little determination to get through, and other than some points throughout the novel where things get a bit bogged down, this book was immensely readable. I quickly found myself curious about how things would turn out. It’s not perfect, but it was a solid effort, and incredibly enjoyable. In the end, Larcout has the potential to be absolutely brilliant, but I felt like it might have needed a heavier hand with editing. Regardless, it’s off the beaten path, and surprisingly addicting.
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Sarah has been a compulsive reader her whole life. At a young age, she found her reading niche in the fantastic genre of Speculative Fiction. She blames her active imagination for the hobbies that threaten to consume her life. She is a writer and editor, a semi-pro nature photographer, world traveler, three-time cancer survivor, and mom. In her ideal world, she’d do nothing but drink lots of tea and read from a never-ending pile of speculative fiction books.