is the debut novel from Bronwyn Eley, and the first installment in a new #loveozya fantasy trilogy, The Relic Trilogy
. I’m not going to lie, the first thing that attracted me to this book was that the author’s name is Bronwyn! Haha! There aren’t many of us around, so I always love spotting my name in a book – or on the cover! In any case, when I looked beyond the cover (because also, how amazing is the cover art?!) I thought the story sounded fantastic too! Here’s the summary from the publisher’s website
In the city of Edriast, there is no deadlier duty than to serve as the Shadow.
As the personal servant of the powerful Lord Rennard, the Shadow’s life is all but forfeit. Rennard possesses one of five rare and dangerous Relics – a jewel that protects his bloodline, but slowly poisons everyone else in its proximity. When the current Shadow succumbs to its magic, nineteen-year-old blacksmith Kaylan is summoned to take his place.
It’s an appointment that will kill her.
As the time Kaylan has left ebbs away, hope begins to fade… That is, until she discovers a plot to destroy all five bloodlines in possession of the Relics.
A rebel force plans to put an end to Rennard’s rule and Kaylan suddenly finds herself embroiled in a cause that might just be worth fighting for. But no cause is without its costs…
As her life hangs in the balance and rebellion bears down on Edriast, Kaylan must decide where her loyalties lie – and how she’ll leave her mark on the world.
I thought Relic was an excellent starting novel for a new adventure-filled fantasy trilogy. I felt like the world building was pretty solid – the book is set in the city of Edriast, and we spend most of that time in the castle, but I felt like I got a bit of a sense of the larger world too. I felt like the amount of information we had was just about perfect for my reading preferences. While we don’t necessarily know a lot about the Relics and their powers, we learn more about them as Kaylan does – I really like this technique of giving the reader more info at the same time as the protagonist is learning it too.
I also thought that there was good balance in the number of characters we meet in this first book – I felt like there weren’t so many that I couldn’t keep track of who was who, but at the same time there were enough to make the story feel full (if that makes sense). Knowing that the story includes a rebellion, I really enjoyed trying to figure out who would be on which side – and who Kaylan would be able to trust.
I felt like Kaylan was a great protagonist – she was strong and clever and loyal to her friends and family. I loved that she had shades of grey about her, and that she was somewhat unsure about what her role should be – as much as I enjoy a “chosen one with surprise secret powers out to save the world” story, I found it refreshing to have kind of a reluctant hero protagonist. Also, I thought the bits about her working as a blacksmith were fascinating – I felt like her passion for the craft was really well conveyed and also relatable.
The story itself was pretty dark – there is a lot of pain and suffering described – and a bit of a slow burn. It definitely has those “first book in a series” qualities of setting up the context for what’s to come later, but that totally worked for me and I absolutely felt hooked by it. Overall I thought this was fantastic. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but I just really got on with the writing style. I think it is going to be a hit with fans of Sarah J. Maas – it had some definite Throne of Glass
vibes for me.
Relic by Bronwyn Eley
Source: Thank you to Talem Press for sending me a digital copy in exchange for a review.
Category: Dark YA low magic fantasy adventure with a twist of dystopia
Themes: Family, loyalty, responsibility, society/politics, fierce women