The meeting of four lonely immortals will change them – and the world.
High in the Heavens, an immortal court celebrates the betrothal of Jin, Goddess of Beauty, and Xiao, God of Pleasure. But as soon as the vows are made, the Sun Emperor collapses from a death curse.
Raised away from the Sun Court after her mother’s murder, Jin is called a useless goddess, but she is now the emperor’s only hope. The curse’s cure is locked in the Underworld, and even though the court dismisses him as a hopeless alcoholic, Xiao vows to help his betrothed find the lost key.
They hire a thief who is more interested in stealing the groom than recovering the key, and begin their search at the legendary grave of the Great Warrior – only it turns out he never died. Tens of millennia old, he is a master of everything but his own heart.
Their journey takes them from the icy peaks of the White Mountain and the lush banks of the Kuanbai River to the palace of the Sea Dragon and the halls of the Moon Deer, through court intrigue and bloody battles, power struggles and magical traps. Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld will forever celebrate their triumphs – and mourn their mistakes.
I was initially attracted to this book because of the lovely cover. But I was a little hesitant because the characters on the front appear so youthful. I didn’t want to find myself in super young adult angst-land. But I am pleased to say that though this is a coming-of-age tale of sorts, the youths in question are 5-25k-years-old. Sooooo, you know, not too angsty. (The oldest ‘adult’ is roughly 75k-years-old, for comparison’s sake.) These are gods and elemental spirits (or Colors). And while they and their cultures have many many things in common with humanity, they are also notably different and I very much enjoyed the way Pawlicki wove this into the story.
I also appreciated that the circumstances Pawlicki put the four protagonists into could have lead to innumerable tedious jealousies and misunderstanding, driving the plot with artificial drama and…well, to use the word again, angst…the author didn’t go this route. While all of the characters have emotional growth throughout the book, they also try very hard not to hurt one another. Plus, they’re all intensely likeable most of the time. (Maybe not in some of those moments of growth, but generally.)
The book does deal with some heavy themes. Amongst them addiction, abuse, truly horrendous parents, past trauma, loneliness, regret, and guilt. But it’s never too heavy to bear.
While the writing and editing were very good over all. There was the occasional anachronistic turn or phrase or jarring oversight. (Like the person who clenched their fists (plural), after losing a hand.) But these were rare and stood out more for their rarity, I think.
Given the cover, it shouldn’t be surprising that the whole thing reminded me very much of Manhwa (think Bride of the Water God). I’m fairly sure that if you like that narrative style you will very much like this book. I did and I look forward to picking up book two, especially since this one ended on a cliffhanger.