Every year the city of Hanging Hold hosts an event.
Eight prisoners condemned to death are sent out to sea – none are expected to return but if they do, they win their freedom.
The dark-elf Dirian has grown up Below, the brand on his face testament to his place as a scout and skills as a warrior. Now he finds himself on a mission gone wrong, abandoned in a foreign Surface world and forced on an adventure bound to end in his demise.
Follow Dirian and his companions of varying enthusiasm as they set sail and face the harsh forces of nature, impossible creatures and magical wonders all to unlock the mysteries of the Octagon and escape with their lives in this perilous tale of discovery.
My gosh. This was one of those books where once I picked it up I just couldn’t stop reading. No, really, I had a few days off last week and with the cold weather I don’t think I did much else! There is so much to love about Oakley’s debut novel that I am not sure where to start, but I do need to start somewhere.
I found the world building for this novel truly wonderful. It was recognisable as classic fantasy, with all the familiar species, class division, magic, and belief systems, but with Oakley’s own twist on them. It also feels very full bodied without trying too hard, or making the reader feel bogged down with information. Making this world a new favourite of mine to read about. Especially with the rather straightforward plot which encouraged the characters and their growth to shine.
Though at face value, the plot was rather simple, it was engaging and exciting. It left room for the characters to really shine! I found that every time I had to put the book down, I needed to know what happened next. Especially with the high stakes of the quest – life and death. Something which manages to bring the unlikely group of characters together (and working together too, despite their differences).
It didn’t take long for the group of main characters to completely steal my heart! I was invested from very early on, and loved seeing their growth throughout the novel. They were all beautifully complex, and so interesting to follow. I found myself holding my breath in really intense scenes, needing them to be okay! I also really love how there was a little romance, but it is so subtly brought into the story, and in such a clever way at it felt so natural for those characters, and not out of place.
I highly recommend this book to other fantasy readers who are looking for an exciting read with high stakes and wonderful characters!
Thank you to the publisher, Tebreus Press and the author, Mairon Oakley for gifting me this ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title will be published 12th July 2022.