Protagonist Csowre has been raised as "the Chosen One" within a death cult, located up in a remote mountain monastery. When she turns 14, she is to climb up the many temple steps to the Shrine of the Unspoken, where the Death God they serve will devour her. Csowre (pronounced Ka-saw-r-way) has accepted her fate until, a few days before her 14th birthday, a mage seeking a prophecy about a relic from the monastery presents her with the chance to escape. He offers to smuggle her out of the shrine and train her to become his assassin, his spy, his sworn sword.
What I loved most about A.K. Larkwood's book "The Unspoken Name" was the rich, multifaceted world-building, the author created. Each land Csowre visits feels fully formed, complete with distinct but overlapping cultures, histories, gods and magic. One of the dead lands Csowre's band travels through (destroyed by its patron goddess), has giant, larger than houses, snake corpses forming hillocks. Csowre assumed they were dumb and dangerous beasts yet learns they were known for being insightful philosophers. Unlike some epic fantasy novels, the plot doesn't get bogged down with excessive description. Csowre turns out to be non-human — an orc actually — but the author doesn't belabor this point. Only when one of Csowre's tusks is broken does it become clear our protagonist is not really human.
Csowre's life changes from a quite monastic existence to a series of madcap adventures as she assists her savior in his quest for power. Like most good fantasy novels, there is more to the story than meets the eye. If you look for it, there is a mystery to be revealed. There is a love story between Csowre and another female character, but the plot focuses on the development of the individual's character growth more than the relationship. If you are in the mood for a unique fantasy novel, give "The Unspoken Name" a try.
Qhyrrae Michaelieu orders audiobooks at the Missouri River Regional Library, among other duties.