Review: Marskwoman by Rati Mehrotra
Series: Asiana #1
Published by Harper Voyager on January 23rd 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, a highly trained sisterhood of elite warriors armed with telepathic blades. Guided by a strict code of conduct, Kyra and the other Orders are sworn to protect the people of Asiana. But to be a Markswoman, an acolyte must repudiate her former life completely. Kyra has pledged to do so, yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her dead family.
When Kyra’s beloved mentor dies in mysterious circumstances, and Tamsyn, the powerful, dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. Using one of the strange Transport Hubs that are remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past, she finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a young, disillusioned Marksman whom she soon befriends.
Kyra is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof. And if she fails to find it, fails in her quest to keep her beloved Order from following Tamsyn down a dark path, it could spell the beginning of the end for Kyra--and for Asiana.
But what she doesn’t realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is razor thin . . . thin as the blade of a knife.
This debut was such an enjoyable read for me. It had a great balance of world building and character drama and the pace kept things moving. The world in this is definitely interesting. It starts out feeling like a standard fantasy world with magic and swords, etc. But then as you keep reading and details are revealed, you come to realize it also is post-apocalyptic. I’ve seen this in a number of other books, but that certainly did not prevent me from enjoying the reveals in this one at all.
There are orders of women called Markswomen, who serve essentially as assassins. They are meant to uphold the law and enforce order, so they are feared as their skills are almost legendary. Plus, as I mentioned before, they are assassins, so its probably natural that the commoners don’t want to buddy up with them and instead keep a respectul (and slightly fearful) distance. One secret to their power is that they are telepathically bonded with a special type of blade, so it becomes a sort of extenstion of themselves. These blades are magical, and provide their owners strength and the ability to do more than just cut or slice. Even at the end of the book, I feel like there is more to these blades than I we have learned so far, and I look forward to reading on to find out.
Our protaginist, Kyra, was brought to the order at a much younger age than most and she formed a close bond with her mentor, who was like a mother to her. Because of the devastating events that she experienced as her clan and family were destroyed, Kyra has a strong desire for vengeance for the death of her family and clan. This is something that challenges her at points in the book, where she has to weigh her commitment to her order or her desire for vengeance. An apprentice’s first kill in the name of the order (their first mark) is how they graduate to become a Markswoman, Kyra’s first kill does not sit easy for her, showing that while she has a strong desire for retribution for the death of her family and clan, killing also does not sit easy for her.
After the unexpected death of her mentor, she is faced with a new challenge as well, as she believes it was foul play and has a keen idea exactly who murdered her. But without proof, she is challenged to find a way to persuade the leaders what has happened to ensure justice is served. Kyra’s life takes a very unexpected turn after the death of Sherrin Mam and she has to face her actions and make a plan to make right what has gone horribly wrong.
While the majority of the book is told from Kyra’s perspective, there are chapters told from Rustan’s perspective as well. He is a Marksman, and his order is shunned by most of the Markswomen who believe that men are not qualified to wield. It gives a slightly different perspective to the world, and really provides a a lot of great information about dynamics. I have a feeling Rustan, who was quite important in this book, will become an even bigger piece of the story as the series continues.
Overall, I feel like Markswoman gave a great mix of badass women, action and an interesting world. The pace moved well and I am really looking forward to the next book.