Onyx & Ivory (Rime Chronicles #1)
By: Mindee Arnett
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: May 15th, 2018
They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king years ago. Now Kate lives as an outcast, clinging to the fringes of society as a member of the Relay, the imperial courier service. Only those most skilled in riding and bow hunting ride for the Relay; and only the fastest survive, for when dark falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals. But it’s this magic that she needs to keep hidden, as being a wilder is forbidden, punishable by death or exile. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by nightdrakes in broad daylight—the only survivor her childhood friend, her first love, the boy she swore to forget, the boy who broke her heart.
The high king’s second son, Corwin Tormane, never asked to lead. Even as he waits for the uror—the once-in-a-generation ritual to decide which of the king’s children will succeed him—he knows it’s always been his brother who will assume the throne. And that’s fine by him. He’d rather spend his days away from the palace, away from the sight of his father, broken with sickness from the attempt on his life. But the peacekeeping tour Corwin is on has given him too much time to reflect upon the night he saved his father’s life—the night he condemned the would-be killer to death and lost the girl he loved. Which is why he takes it on himself to investigate rumors of unrest in one of the remote city-states, only for his caravan to be attacked—and for him to be saved by Kate.
With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin have to put the past behind them. The threat of drakes who attack in the daylight is only the beginning of a darker menace stirring in the kingdom—one whose origins have dire implications for Kate’s father’s attack upon the king and will thrust them into the middle of a brewing civil war in the kingdom of Rime.
I give Onyx and Ivory a tentative 4 stars. On paper it has everything I’m looking for in a book: a heroine who can hold her own (but has her select group of supportive, and enjoyable to read, friends), a magical world that has interesting and set rules (but those rules and the status quo are changing, giving the book’s plot a push), and a sprinkling of intrigue and action and romance. Also, horses. However, it was missing that indefinable spark that would make it an utterly great book rather than an enjoyable and entertaining, but in the end unremarkable, fantasy.
Kate is undoubtedly a favorite character, I loved her wilder magic and how it was written, and how she knew her worth. She wouldn’t put up with the condescension from others over her past, and she let them know it. She also failed to fall for Corwin’s wishy-washy feelings and half assed relationship attempts. So kudos.
Corwin is a bit… dense. In other words: it takes awhile for it to click that if he really wanted things to work out with Kate then he could do something about it. His constant denial of his relationship with Kate (and where it could and couldn’t end up) was exhausting and almost had me thinking he was just looking for excuses not to have things work out between them, or at least that he really did want to marry for political gain and still have Kate on the side as a mistress. Gag. If we as the reader didn’t get a look inside his head, then I would definitely be suspicious of his intentions and view him as manipulative instead of just dumb.
The plot expands on some common fantasy tropes, but manages to make them its own, most notably the “princes must undergo tests to determine their worthiness of the throne” or the uror. It adds another element to a packed plot that already has revolution, a sort of murder mystery, and family drama on its plate, but it weaves these together effectively while giving each of our main characters challenges and obstacles they have to face both together and alone.
Onyx and Ivory delivered an engaging read, and while it didn’t bring any stunning new ideas to the YA genre, it did provide a fun and diverting story. It also helps that a sequel is coming, and this fact elevated my opinion of the book a bit as my other major complaint was over the weakness of the ending if the book was to be judged as a standalone. Not only will it provide some closure, but I’m looking forward to it.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. A review copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.