Jacqueline Carey, 1964-

Book - 2018

Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.

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Fantasy fiction
New York : Tom Doherty Associates 2018.
First edition
Physical Description
587 pages ; 24 cm
Main Author
Jacqueline Carey, 1964- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* In what may well be the epic fantasy of the year, Carey (Miranda and Caliban, 2017) builds a rich and varied world with scores of countries, all shaped by the various living gods who have been cast out of the sky, leaving the world starless but with multiple moons. Khai was born at exactly the same time, during a rare lunar eclipse, as Zariya, the youngest daughter of the king of Zarkhoum, where royalty are almost immortal. Named to be Zariya's shadow and never knowing his parents, Khai was raised in the Fortress of the Winds, where warriors train. He develops unusual skills before he goes to the palace to be Zariya's protector shortly before their sixteenth birthday. The Scattered Prophecy then brings Khai and Zariya together with a diverse corps of individuals of many races, including tentacled sea dwellers and intelligent giant sea wyrms. Their journey through killer vegetation, across an ocean, and into a volcano is filled with action and adventure. Carey is at the peak of her luminous storytelling powers in a tale that will appeal to readers of Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss, while its thought-provoking look at gender, love, and sexual preference bring to mind Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Carey follows up the New York Times best-selling "Kushiel's Legacy" series with a new world of selfless heroes and exiled gods, as Khai takes up his role of protector to the princess Zariya. Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Carey's new historical epic fantasy introduces Khai, who, born during a lunar eclipse, was taken into the Pahrkun clan to learn the ways of a warrior in order to protect the princess Zariya of the Ageless and Sun-Blessed. Khai is Zariya's shadow, bound by prophecy as her defender and soul's twin. Although he trains for years in the ways of honor, he gradually discovers that the clan holds a secret that impacts him directly. Thrown into the midst of court politics and conspiracies, Khai struggles to understand his own identity, that of Zariya, and the truth about the coming of the dark god Miasmus. Survival depends on Khai and Zariya's joining a group of prophecy seekers who sail under starless skies searching for the answer that will save their world from utter destruction. VERDICT Carey's evocative prose and skillful worldbuilding establishes a lushly detailed setting populated by memorable, well-drawn characters in a story that is deliberate and immersive. Exquisite action sequences will delight the many fans of her "Kushiel's Legacy" series. [See Prepub Alert, 12/11/17.]—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

This rich, evocative fantasy epic from Carey (Miranda and Caliban) is a poignant tale of grand adventure. Khai was chosen at birth to serve as shadow (a soul-twin and protector) for the Sun-Blessed Princess Zariya of the House of the Ageless. He has spent the entirety of his young life in the desert, preparing for this task the gods have bestowed upon him. As puberty draws near, Khai is due to be presented to the princess, but his position is undermined when he learns that he is bhazim, a daughter who was pledged to be raised as a son. He also learns of a prophecy that speaks of the fallen god, Miasmus, a darkness that will "arise in the west against which one of the Sun-Blessed will stand." Pragmatic Zariya, who was injured in childhood and walks with canes, is determined to be that prophesied one with the aid of her shadow. Khai, cautiously experimenting with gender presentation, joins Zariya and the defenders of the four quarters, a ragtag group who are committed to halting Miasmus's destructive force. Carey handles themes of duty, love, and identity with tenderness and fortitude, never pigeonholing her protagonists, and the tapestry of her characters elevates this novel above its peers. (June) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

In a world where exiled gods live among the people who worship them, two unlikely heroes find the strength to transcend society's expectations. Khai is chosen at birth to protect Princess Zariya and is trained as a warrior and a thief by the Brotherhood of Pahrkun. But secrets that threaten their identities and world have been kept from Khai and Zariya. Khai is lovably imperfect, making too-quick judgements and getting himself into trouble as he struggles with his identity and the at-times overwhelming task he's been given. When it is discovered that he is bhazim—born a girl but raised a boy—the reactions of those around him vary, from the love and sympathy offered by his brothers to the confusion, ignorance, and even disdain directed at him by members of the royal family. Unlike Khai, Zariya is portrayed as nearly perfect, possibly because Khai is telling the story. With this exploration of identity, master storyteller Carey has created a rag-tag cast of characters who shrug off society's labels, as well as a fantasy world readers will be reluctant to leave. VERDICT Fans of world-building powerhouses such as Rhoda Belleza and Garth Nix will be in awe of Carey's stand-alone epic.—Kaitlin Frick, New York Public Library Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Trained as an elite warrior before learning a profound truth about his identity, Khai navigates the deadly intrigues of court before embarking on a quest to save his soul's twin. By the best-selling author of the Kushiel's Legacy series.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Jacqueline Carey is back with an amazing adventure not seen since her New York Times bestselling Kushiel's Legacy series. Lush and sensual, Starless introduces us to an epic world where exiled gods live among us, and a hero whose journey will resonate long after the last page is turned.I was nine years old the first time I tried to kill a man...Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine.