Published by Razorbill on July 18th 2017
No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.
The palace is soon under siege, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.
Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?
Hrrrmm. This book is like what I imagine taking a massive acid trip to be. Ok, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but there are some REALLY strange mythologies that form the backbone of this world. And I think that’s how I felt about this whole book, that it’s just strange this entire book, it’s entirely strange. It’s not entirely consistent either. One moment you’ve got a ton going on and the next its a boring buddy trip movie.
Despite the strangeness of this mythology, it is pretty well built. However I can’t really wrap my head around the idea of a spider that creates and sustains the world. Though I suppose it’s not any stranger than other creation mythologies it makes me giggle more than anything else. I wish I knew more about the other gods and goddesses of this world though, as Maya is one of the only ones that gets named and explained. I could read an entire book just about that.
The main characters, Amrita and Thala, are both pretty good. Amrita is strong, if a bit too timid at the beginning. My biggest gripe about her is how easily she falls into the role fate has demanded for her, having less and less agency of her own as the book goes on. Thala at least has a bit more control and is a much more engaging character with a good backstory to catch my attention. I don’t dislike Amrita, she is a good character, but I wanted more from her.
The beginning and end sections of the book are both well put together. The beginning could use a bit more of a hook but it had enough going for it that I kept reading. I loved the ending and was rooting for the characters the whole last third of the book. The middle? Well the middle is a problem. It’s a dull road trip with the usual bickering of two parties of different walks of life being thrown together, blah blah blah. Been there, done that, wrote the book on it. It’s not just that it’s cliche but it’s boring and cliche. I struggled through most of this middle part and had I not been a captive audience (having literally nothing else I could have done at the time, I may not have kept reading.
As for the two love interests? Well they’re both epic. I’m glad that the book never really goes into love triangle territory. I was very worried when Guy #2 showed up that we would get that for the main character. It does, however show up for another character, and for her it works. For that relationship, that situation, and what it means for the story I actually found that it was probably the best way to do it.
I did enjoy this book but I definitely think it has a lot of problems that needed to be addressed before publishing. The middle needed tighter editing, some characters needed a bit of work, and I think more could have been done with the mythology. What it was not missing was a good villain. A bit one dimensional perhaps, the villain was so easy to hate. Where he lacks depth he has a great capacity for evil and I love how this book shows how a few decisions make the difference in his characters. In the right situation maybe we could all be villains.
Though week in places, I recommend this book for fans of different cultural mythologies and fantasies not set in a euro-centric world.
What did you think of LIBRARY OF FATES? Share your thoughts in the comments.
From my shelf to yours,