Guys, this book had everything a true fantasy novel needs: magical world, kingdoms and errant princes, and a good mystery. I certainly would recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy. I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as an “omg you have to read this book” type of story, but it had a solid plot nonetheless. To be honest, I was feeling a little deflated after finishing the Grisha series… don’t know what that was all about. I think I was in a reading slump, not wanting to continue on to King of Scars just yet, but also not sure of what I wanted to dive into next. So after a great debate, I started Onyx and Ivory… and I don’t know why it was even a debate because I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I would keep this on your TBR list for that rainy day when you’re in a slump, and you don’t have to become too invested in the novel. Ok, let’s dive in (spoilers aplenty).
I thought magic in this book was unique, split into two very distinct types. On one hand, there were mages, who operated spells. On the other hand, there were wilders, who operated “wild” magic, which didn’t need incantations or spells to happen. And of course, the wild magic was outlawed in the kingdom. Naturally, one of the main characters, Kate, was a wilder, and she could influence the minds of animals. Her father could as well, which is how he got a job as the Master of Horse at the castle. Kate went through a lot of self discovery with her magic, from only using it with horses, to other animals, then ultimately with humans. I think this journey really added to the suspense of the story.
Let’s talk characters. First off, I LOVED the dual perspectives of Kate and Corwin… you all KNOW how much I love that shit, some of my favorite stories are those who have more than one narrative. Though, I have to say… the “romance” in this story didn’t really make it for me… I was more invested in the actual mystery instead of Kate and Corwin. I really could have done without the romance even, because their journeys of self discovery were much more important to the plot. Poor Kate had to deal with being a Traitor’s daughter, and she was ostracized everywhere she went. I truly felt sorry for her throughout the book, but I respected the way she kept her chin held high and refused to stoop to everyone’s level. I thought Corwin had such good character development, and you could see him struggle with the idea of becoming king, and how he could be a good ruler. He learned so much, and it was so wholesome to watch him face his past prejudices against wilders and ultimately fight for their equality. I honestly loved not only Kate and Corwin, but also the side characters like Signe, Bonner, Raith, and Dal as well. They made for some strong friendships and good vibes all around.
The mystery of the daydrakes kept this story alive for me, and I thought it was really well played out. I went through the story at every twist and turn wondering not only who was responsible for the daydrakes, but also wondering what exactly happened to Kate’s father and why he tried to kill the king. I thought it was so well developed that I truly didn’t know who was behind it all until the very end, when we learn that Minister Rendborne was actually the Nameless One. Did not see that one coming… honestly, I suspected Edwin, Corwin’s brother, as the one who was behind the attacks… but it turns out he was just a jealous, older brother who used his resentment towards Corwin as fuel to make everyone’s lives hell. So, pretty shitty guy, but not the bad guy by any means. Not like Rendborne, who was actually pretty terrible.
Overall, I enjoyed every second of this story, and it certainly helped get me out of the slump I was in. I tried to look for the sequel, but there isn’t one…? At least not yet? Which is such a shame… but I also don’t feel the need for a sequel… does that make sense? The story finished rather open ended, and I think it left room for plenty more to carry on… there’s a bunch of loose ends, like does Kate find her brother? Does Corwin fight against his own brother and ultimately unite the kingdom? Do they defeat the Godking? I did read in the Acknowledgements that this was a tough book for the author, so I understand if the sequel takes a long time to plan out. If the author doesn’t feel the need to write a sequel, I get it, and I would be satisfied with how this one concluded.