the obsidian tower

4 stars

This is a very good first book in a new fantasy series about magic, loneliness, vengeance and power. Clocking in at 448 pages, it slowly builds tension and intrigue before exploding to a satisfying cliffhanger.

Ryx is the granddaughter of the powerful ruler of a mage family in Vaskandar. Most of her family members wield powerful magic, but Ryx’s magic is broken and everything she touches dies. Ryx’s grandmother takes her in at a young age when she is shunned by her family. Ryx is placed in charge of a large, odd-shaped castle and tasked with keeping it, and it’s inhabitants, safe. Inside the castle is a room sealed by powerful wards. Throughout the castle are dire warnings to keep the door sealed.

When a visiting dignitary that is in the castle to participate in peace talks attacks Ryx and opens the door, Ryx accidentally kills her in self defense. After the door is opened, the artifact is triggered. Ryx’s grandmother sends her out of the castle to track down a group of magical experts to investigate the artifact. The remaining visiting dignitaries at the castle for the peace talks are curious about the artifact and want to claim the power it may hold. Adding to Ryx’s problems is the fiance of the dignitary she killed. He sends an emissary intent on finding the killer and exacting vengeance.

The writing in this book is very good and flows smoothly. There is a fair amount of world-building, which is always necessary in the first book of a new series. I like Ryx and the author did a great job of depicting her loneliness and longing for physical contact with another person. I could feel how frustrated and scared she was by having to be so aware of not coming into contact with anything or anyone that was alive. Ryx and her grandmother have a complicated relationship and I could sense the ebb and flow of emotions in their interactions. Even though magic is a big part of the book, it’s also a story about relationships and personal self-worth.

In addition to the necessary “bad guy” characters, the author includes a wide variety of personalities. I like the members of the traveling group of magical investigators, as well as the various dignitaries visiting the castle. It is clear what their positions are with regard to the peace talks and artifact, and the author did a great job building tension as the story progressed. I enjoyed the book, but it did drag a bit in the middle. While entertaining, the overall story moved a bit too slow for my taste. First books tend to read a bit slower than normal because of the world building, so I can’t really fault the author too much. Once the action really started, however, the story moves along at a good pace.

Overall this is a good first book in a new fantasy series that I recommend you read.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.