Review: Starless by Jacqueline Carey
Published by Tor Books on June 12, 2018
Jacqueline Carey is back with an amazing adventure not seen since her New York Times bestselling Kushiel’s Legacy series. Lush and sensual, Starless introduces us to an epic world where exiled gods live among us, and a hero whose journey will resonate long after the last page is turned.
Let your mind be like the eye of the hawk…Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.
In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.
If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine.
I have to say, Starless is one of those books that pulled me in very quick. The story is about a world where the children of the main god were all cast down to live among the mortals, and with them, all the stars in the sky were gone as well, changing the night sky. The role of gods in this interesting. They all have unique qualities and rule over specific domains. The people in those domains become well acquainted with their “local god”, for lack of a better term.
The first section of the book is a coming of age tale. I love Khai as a character, he is fierce and talented and just over all, a good character. He is very much a “chosen one”, who excels well beyond his talented peers to take on awe inspiring skills. This should not be too surprising since Khai was selected by his one of the Sacred Twin gods to be the shadow or the Sun-blessed chosen. His soul and fate is linked to another, a person he has never met but is committing his entire life to train to become their protector. I particularly enjoyed a brother that became a mentor to Khai. This character just lent a bit of fun and truth to the otherwise more stifled and structured brotherhood experience.
The second section of the book is when he is finally united with Zariya, his soul’s twin. I enjoyed this part as well, as Khai finally gets to leave his sheltered existence and start to experience the world beyond the brotherhood in the desert. Khai has some internal struggles to sort through in addition to adjusting to the wider world.
The third part of the book is full of adventure and a wide range of characters and experiences. It is also where the prophecy begins to fall into place.
This book is very tropey. That is not a bad thing, but knowing every reader has their own sets of preferences, I want to let you know that readers that don’t do well with “chosen one” stories, or stories that are influenced by prophecy, or end of the world threats, you may want to go into this one with a forewarning that all of those play heavily in this book.
I loved the first 80% of this book. However, at that point, I felt like the conflict driving the story became so dire and over the top, that it actually lost some sense of urgency for me. I hate to give away too much, and I know there are so many books where the conflict threatens some dire situation, but in this case, I felt quite strongly it could never come to pass, it was just too catastrophic, and therefor, I found myself less invested in the resolution, which in turn, felt like it took forever. Perhaps it was just the decline in my interest that made it feel drawn out, but between the final 80% to 95%, I just lost that suspenseful feeling I am sure I was meant to have. I also have to say, that while the prophecy is not set in stone, I did not care for how it almost felt like a script, where they could at times reference it to help determine what to do next. It just made the story feel a bit more contrived than natural to me.
All that said, that means that 85% of the book (the first 80% and last 5%) were amazing and completely made the book worth reading and recommending.