Four siblings. A country in ruin. One quest to save them all.
Vira is desperate to get out of her mother’s shadow and establish her legacy as a revered queen of Ashoka. But with the country’s only quarry running out of magic – a precious resource that has kept Ashoka safe from conflict – she can barely protect her citizens from the looming threat of war. And if her enemies discover this, they’ll stop at nothing to seize the last of the magic.
Vira’s only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: the Ivory Key, rumoured to unlock a new source of magic. But in order to infiltrate enemy territory and retrieve it, she must reunite with her siblings, torn apart by broken relationships and the different paths their lives have taken.
Each of them has something to gain from finding the Ivory Key – and even more to lose if they fail. Ronak plans to sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for escape from his impending political and unwanted marriage. Kaleb, falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani, needs it to clear his name. And Riya, the runaway sibling who cut all family ties, wants the Key to prove her loyalty to the rebels who took her in.
They must work together to survive the treacherous journey. But with each sibling harbouring secrets and their own conflicting agendas, the very thing that brought them together could tear apart their family – and their world – for good.
First in a duology from an incredible new talent, this Indian-inspired fantasy debut is epic, fierce and magnetically addictive, taking you on a thrilling journey where magic, a prized resource, is the only thing between peace and war.
I am going to be perfectly honest here, as I am with all my reviews. I struggled with the start of this book, ok, this is still a fairly new genre for me and I’m trying to read more of it. I realise that the first half of the book is really focussing on world building, letting the reader know what the four siblings Vira, Ronak, Kaleb and Riya have been doing leading up to where all the action starts, why had they all fallen out? What was each one doing?
For Vira she has become the Maharani of Ashoka after her mother had been murdered, Kaleb is in prison accused of murdering his father, Riya left home 2 years earlier after an argument with her mother, she is now running with a group known as the Ravens, thieves although they were only stealing things to help the starving people. Ronak is working on a plan to free Kaleb from prison and to escape Ashoka a place he has come to hate. But is he making a deal with the devil?
The story is set in an Indian-inspired world, told through the viewpoints of the four siblings, I have to say once everything was set up and the siblings agreed to work together to try and find the Ivory Key the pace really picked up, I was engrossed the pages were flying. Vira hadn’t told the others that the city had almost run out of magic in the quarry, this means the city is vulnerable and could be taken over at anytime by the Lyrians because they had very little funding and hardly any magic left to protect the city, the only hope is to find the key that their father had spent years looking for. In order to get to the magic which had been previously sealed away by a once secret society. Not an easy quest at all.
The journey to find the key is not without it’s pitfalls, the four siblings and Amrit, Riva’s trainer and bodyguard have to get around mercenaries on there trek. As they search they come across tunnels that they had no idea where they would lead to, some had secret traps which they had to avoid. With intricate puzzles to solve. But will they find the Ivory Key? So many things happen which I obviously can’t say about as it would just be giving away plot spoilers.
The author has created such a vivid world that you feel you are there with the siblings, then as the food is mentioned your mouth begins to water as if you can taste every morsel. Adding to the suspense was the not knowing if the siblings would stick together or would they go with their own hidden agenda’s and betray each other.
I really can’t wait for the second book in this duology now, there are several twists that I really never saw coming, the characters are all relatable, three dimensional and likeable each in their own ways. Riva hadn’t chosen to become the next Maharani she automatically became it on her mothers death. She so wants to live up to her mum’s legacy which means she puts a lot of pressure on herself. I’ve been left thinking about each character and what will come next.
If you like fantasy novels then grab a copy of this, and once you get to the siblings working together the whole story becomes exciting, with secrets, magic, ciphers and sibling rivalry. I thoroughly enjoyed that second half.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Akshaya Raman fell in love with writing when she wrote her first story at the age of ten. Though she graduated from UC David with a degree in biology, she gave up pursuing a career in science to write books. She is co-founder and contributed to Writer’s Block Party, a group blog about writing and publishing, and has served on the planning teams of several book festivals. She lives in the Bay Area with an actual scaredy cat, and in her free time she enjoys baking, travelling and watching too much reality TV.
You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @akshraman