Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett
From Goodreads: They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king years ago. Now Kate lives as an outcast, clinging to the fringes of society as a member of the Relay, the imperial courier service. Only those most skilled in riding and bow hunting ride for the Relay; and only the fastest survive, for when dark falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals. But it’s this magic that she needs to keep hidden, as being a wilder is forbidden, punishable by death or exile. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by nightdrakes in broad daylight—the only survivor her childhood friend, her first love, the boy she swore to forget, the boy who broke her heart.
The high king’s second son, Corwin Tormane, never asked to lead. Even as he waits for the uror—the once-in-a-generation ritual to decide which of the king’s children will succeed him—he knows it’s always been his brother who will assume the throne. And that’s fine by him. He’d rather spend his days away from the palace, away from the sight of his father, broken with sickness from the attempt on his life. But the peacekeeping tour Corwin is on has given him too much time to reflect upon the night he saved his father’s life—the night he condemned the would-be killer to death and lost the girl he loved. Which is why he takes it on himself to investigate rumors of unrest in one of the remote city-states, only for his caravan to be attacked—and for him to be saved by Kate.
With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin have to put the past behind them. The threat of drakes who attack in the daylight is only the beginning of a darker menace stirring in the kingdom—one whose origins have dire implications for Kate’s father’s attack upon the king and will thrust them into the middle of a brewing civil war in the kingdom of Rime.
Thanks so much to the awesome Moon Kestrel for sending me her Fairyloot copy of this book to read 😀
So I’ve been wanting to read Onyx and Ivory for a while now, ever since I saw that Fairyloot would be including the book in one of their boxes and read the description. I have seen quite a lot of books with similar concepts, including Seawitch and Children of Blood and Bone where certain types of magic or peoples are banned. However, it was still a really nice read with some interesting plot twists and characters and I enjoyed it a lot.
One of the reasons for this is Kate and Corwin. Both of them were well-developed characters, with their own motivations and traits that made them unique and exciting. I liked how Kate was so determined to figure out what really happened with her father, and she had such a lovely protective streak throughout the book which really shone, in spite of all the awful things she endures. Her ability with horses also worked well, both as a plot device and as a way of building her character and fleshing her out. A lot of the really gorgeous descriptions in this book jump out when Kate is caring for the horses.
I also found Corwin fascinating. I wasn’t entirely sure I understood the sort of challenge thing that happens in the book [not elaborating on this for spoiler reasons. Those who have read the book will know what I’m talking about] but I loved the way Arnett explores Corwin’s relationship with both his brother and the concept of responsibility/power. It’s very detailed and intricate and I ended up spending quite a bit of time when I finished the book thinking it over. I’m excited to see where this might develop next, and what it could mean for Corwin and the other characters in book two.
I will say that, as much as I liked the concept of the drakes and the danger they added to Onyx and Ivory I could have done with a bit more development. There were some bits of the magic system that might have been explored with greater detail, and I think the drakes were one of them. It might have just been me skipping over the description of them [I started reading this book at like 3am] but I can’t recall anything much about what they looked like, except like… lizards? Considering the amount of different representations and imaginings of dragons we have in culture today, I think I might have benefited from Arnett taking a bit more time to elaborate on them, especially as they play such a central role to the story.
Also, as a bit of a side note, I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on with the cover. I liked the colour scheme and adored the black stained pages, but although it is a really pretty cover, I don’t feel like it makes a whole lot of sense in the context of the book? Am I alone in thinking this, or did anyone else pick up on this too?
Overall, I’m giving Onyx and Ivory a 7/10 stars. I did enjoy the book, and the characters were well-developed and I cared a lot about what happened to them, but for some reason, I spent a lot of time putting the book down and leaving it for a day or two before picking it up again. Part of this might have been because I simply wasn’t in the mood. There is a lot going on at the moment. However, I suspect that part of it is to do with the pacing of the novel, which was slow in places, and the lack of explanation of magic in the world. I will still be picking up book two, because I liked this one, but I am hoping that the writing is a touch stronger in the sequel.
Has anyone else read this book or plans to? I love hearing your thoughts and opinions on books I’ve reviewed so please feel free to drop me a comment in the comment section below ❤