The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna (Deathless #1)
Reviewed by Sam!
What I drank prior: Ginny is in town!!! Which means we watched shows and drank wine and I am DRUNK
Drunk Overview: ok so…. basically Deka has been branded as a demon by her town due to her blood color (gold) and sentenced to death. This chick White Hands comes and saves her to recruit her for the emperor’s army where all the other women with gold blood have gone. They’re paired with a dude partner (naturally) and taught to fight the imminent threat, these creepy creatures called deathshrieks. One thing leads to another, dead mama may have been at the school, who knows. Things happen.
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.
But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.
Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.
Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: this was great. There were a few issues I had with it but all in all, I really liked it.
Characters: ok so, the main issue I have with this book is character and relationship (platonic or otherwise) development happens SO FAST. So there’s our main lady, Deka, and she…. is kinda a square. When she gets taken away by white hands, there’s almost immediate respect but no reason why other than she wasn’t abused by her? She then meets Britta, who I honestly love, and they are immediate bffs, which I forgive because of shared trauma. Then she gets paired with dudeman, and while OF COURSE they’re going to fall in lurve but I didn’t really see it happen. Like it was stranger and then “oh em gee he’s touching me” almost immediately. And then the other side characters just felt like the relationships happened in days what should normally have happened in years.
Despite the speed, I still love my friends. A lot of them are well rounded. You have your occasional flat character plot device but they’re fine.
Plot: clearly I had some struggle with the pacing but the story was great. There was a mystery to it all that didn’t feel forced. I knew what some plot twist would be but there was one big one I did not predict at all and that was extremely satisfying.
World Building: I will gladly and loudly read the rest of this series if only to get to know more about this world. The magic is rule based and there are few exceptions. There’s also basically a shape-shifting Pokémon that bonds with Deka and I need more about them.
What to pair it with: this feels like a golden ale (get it?). Round and strong and will get you where you need to go.
Rating: 3.5/5 shots
Until next time, we remain forever drunkenly yours,