Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Thursday #Review - Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra #YALit #Fantasy @HarperVoyagerUS

Series: Asiana # 1
Format: E-Book, 384 pages
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Edelweiss/Publisher
Genre: Epic Fantasy

An order of magical-knife wielding female assassins brings both peace and chaos to their post-apocalyptic world in this bewitching blend of science fiction and epic fantasy—the first entry in a debut duology that displays the inventiveness of the works of Sarah Beth Durst, Marie Lu, and S. J. Kincaid.
Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, a highly trained sisterhood of elite warriors armed with telepathic blades. Guided by a strict code of conduct, Kyra and the other Orders are sworn to protect the people of Asiana. But to be a Markswoman, an acolyte must repudiate her former life completely. Kyra has pledged to do so, yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her dead family.
When Kyra’s beloved mentor dies in mysterious circumstances, and Tamsyn, the powerful, dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. Using one of the strange Transport Hubs that are remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past, she finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a young, disillusioned Marksman whom she soon befriends.
Kyra is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof. And if she fails to find it, fails in her quest to keep her beloved Order from following Tamsyn down a dark path, it could spell the beginning of the end for Kyra--and for Asiana. But what she doesn’t realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is razor thin . . . thin as the blade of a knife.

Rati Mehrotra's Markswoman is the first installment in the authors Asiana duology. One can definitely call this a post-apocalyptic version of Asia. It is the year 853 of the Kanun and the Orders keep the peace – barely. Armed outlaws roam the Thar Desert, and a young woman seeks revenge for a horrific crime that was committed against her clan. 19-year old Kyra Veer lives in a land called Asiana. Here you will find Five Orders of Peace: Valavan, Zorya, Mar-Su, Khur, and Kali, which is the oldest of them all. 

"None may take a life but those that carry a kalishium blade and are sworn to the orders of peace."

As the synopsis explains, Kyra is the youngest full fledged Markswoman in the Order of Kali. A Markswoman is a combination of a peacekeeper and an executioner. She is the last survivor of clan Veer which was wiped out when she was a child. As a Markswoman, Kyra has vowed to put aside her desire for revenge on those that killed her clan, but that doesn't mean that if her mentor were to send her on a mission to eliminate those responsible, she would have second thoughts. After her mentor, Shira-Man, is found dead, and her adversary, Tamsyn, is named as her replacement, Kyra snatches Shira's kalishium and travels through a transport hub where she encounters the only male order, Khur. 

Here is where we are introduced to the second character who the author uses to narrate her story; Rustan. After Rustan returns from a mission to subdue a supposed guilty man, he finds himself disillusioned that the man may have been innocent. This weighs heavily on his shoulders and his desire to continue with the clan. Soon thereafter, he encounters Kyra, who is the first female that the clan has seen outside of clan gatherings. Kyra is a character who continues to have to prove herself, while Rustan has already made a name for himself as a brilliant fighter.

Kyra is smart, strong, and trying to find her way in a complicated world— the type of heroine that YA and adult readers alike will relate to. As Kyra's desire for revenge against Tamsyn burns, Rustan becomes Kyra's trainer and sometime antagonist. He knows about Tamsyn. Hell, everyone has heard about the dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts. If Kyra has any hope of surviving, Rustan must push her to her upper limits and then push her further than she's ever been pushed before. Kyra is not a Mary Sue character. Even though she makes her fair share of mistakes, she can handle herself.

She has a wonderful relationship with Nineth and Elena who were her fellow apprentices. But, she has issues with others in her clan. Kyra has a hard time with the whole letting the past be what it is, and let the future bring what will. There are some curiosities that are connected to Kyra which will be wonderful if the author breaks them down and explains how she is able to do some of the things she does in this story. This is definitely a curious world. It is a world that was created after a post-apocalyptic event.

It is a world where The Ones left behind ancient technologies that most people don't have a clue how to use. It is a world where the Markswomen and Men are connected on a spiritual level with their weapons called kalishium. I have heard people complain that there is a love at first sight romance in this novel. I disagree entirely. First, Kyra finds herself the object of unwanted affection who later goes a bit too far. No, not that far. Second, the whole romance between Rustan and Kyra grows out of his concern that she will fail in her desire for revenge.

To close out this review, I will say that there is a OH SHIT, HOLY CRAP! Cliffhanger ending. It is an ending that is perhaps my only real negative about this entire story. I could cut down Kyra for certain things she does, but, as I said before, she is not perfect. Rati draws upon the mythology surrounding the Hindu goddess Kali as the inspiration for her Orders. Though it has the immersive feel of epic fantasy, Markswoman is a quick, exciting, and fun read sure to please fantasy enthusiasts as well as fans of dystopian fiction.

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