Onyx & Ivory (Rime Chronicles #1) by Mindee Arnett
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (May 15, 2018)
Print Length: 500 pages
Audiobook Length: 14hrs 56 mins
Audiobook Narrator: Khristine Hvam
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.
While the magic system was pretty static as far as YA fantasy novels go, it is in its characters, and their development, that Onyx & Ivory stands out among the crowd.
Onyx & Ivory is told from two dueling perspectives: Kate and Corwin. Kate, or traitor Kate as she is more commonly known, is a disenfranchised member of the Relay, or royal postal service. Banished from her home because her father tried to kill the king, Kate goes through quite a journey in 500 pages. I found it interesting the way in which Arnett had her main female protagonist find the meaning in freedom, first by coasting, then to having to work for it, and finally to have her fighting for it by the end of the novel. Kate was smart, resourceful, and strong in her convictions, making her a truly likable character.
Likewise, I found the character of Corwin equally as compelling. Corwin is the second son of the high king. However, in this story birthing order means very little in terms of inheritance. Instead Onyx & Ivory puts into play an almost divine like ceremony to see which of the king’s sons is worthy enough to take up the throne. Living with this isn’t easy for Corwin, going so far as having him run from the throne, and complicated even further with Kate’s reintroduction in his life. Corwin has to grapple with a lot, including the choice of whether to follow the plan laid out for him or to make one for himself.
Also, can we just talk about the romance for a second? The reader knows that there were feelings between Corwin and Kate previous to the start of the book, so to then have to read about them grappling with feelings of love, betrayal, fear, and hope was something truly special.
Overall this book was fast paced and hard to put down. If you’re looking for your next great fantasy obsession, I feel it safe to say that this book could be that for you.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
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And those are my thoughts on Onyx & Ivory (Rime Chronicles #1) by Mindee Arnett. Have any YA fantasy recommendations you think I should check out? Leave them as a comment below and help my TBR grow.