Review: A Star-Reckoner’s Lot by Darrell Drake

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Beautiful!

Guys, I’ve finally reached the point in my TBR where I can branch out into books that I have been meaning to read forever. I made it!

This book has been on the TBR for at least a year, so I’m glad I could finally get there.

Ashtadukht is a star-reckoner. The worst there’s ever been.

She commands the might of the constellations… though her magic is as unpredictable as the die rolls that decide its fate. But star-reckoners are humanity’s first defense against divs, so if Ashtadukht is to fulfill her duty, she must use every trick at her disposal—risks be damned.

An excuse. A lie she tells herself. All that remains of a life she should have had. She travels the empire to hunt down the div that brought her world to ruin. The longer her pursuit, the more her memories threaten to consume her. The darker her obsession becomes.

Every spell is a catastrophe waiting to happen, every div a tale of its own, every tale a thread in her tapestry of vengeance. This is the story of her path… a warning to those who would follow in her footsteps.

Ashtadukht is a star-reckoner. The worst there’s ever been. Hers is no hero’s journey.

Forgetfulness is the mind’s way of making life bearable; it is a compassion for oneself.

This book grabbed my attention so hard that I read nearly half of it in one sitting. That can happen, but it’s not exactly common for me. It generally means that I’m going to quite like a book though!

This story takes place in Sasanian Iran, around the 6th century or so. That’s not a setting I generally encounter often so it felt really new and unique to me. It follows the story of Ashtadukht, who is a star-reckoner. They use the stars, the constellations and movement of the planets as a source of magic. They can make things happen by drawing a lot from the placement of the stars. Ashtadukht is… ah… not very good at it though. She will draw a lot and it’ll do… something… but not usually something she actually intended.

Star-reckoners are more-or-less the world’s defense against divs. Divs, who are also known as daevas, are creatures from Persian mythology that are something like imps or devils who strive to create chaos and disorder in the world. The leader of the divs is Ahriman (or Angra Mainyu, depending on the language – if you’re a fan of the Final Fantasy series, either one or both of these names will probably be recognizable), who is actually represented in this book as well, in a way that usually made me laugh. Div are like devils, while Ahriman is the devil. Kind of. </mythology nerd>

Anyway, star-reckoners travel the lands dispatching divs. Ashtadukht travels with her cousin and guardian, Tirdad. She’s trying to find and dispose of the div who killed her husband…. Brusband. >.> Yeah.

Along the way they meet Waray, who is a half-div. She’s very odd, but follows Ashtadukht and Tirdad around on their journeys. Waray ended up being my favorite character in this book, because of her… sort of awesome way of describing things. Everything becomes šo-wretched for her once she’s sure she doesn’t like it, and šo-fantastic if it’s something she loves (I thought the accents were a formatting error in the beginning, but by the end I took them as… maybe a hissing sound, as Waray is half-viper). Some of the adjectives she produces are pretty amazeballs. A few of the div in this book have very specific quirks in their speech, and it was really cool seeing how much thought went into them. It made them unique. Waray’s speech changes over the course of the book as things happen, and I thought that was a fantastic way of more or less reflecting her mindset. So, Waray for the win. She’s very mischievous, and loves to play pranks, especially on Tirdad. She’s also quite a bit mysterious, and has some interesting backstory. Love, love, love.

This was a really well written story that kept me immersed throughout. It reads a bit like an episodic journey within an otherwise bigger story. So, while there is something big going on as our characters progress, the timeline will skip along into journeys, or periods of months pass in a few minutes to move from one event to another. I didn’t find this skipping along detrimental to the story or my enjoyment of it at all, as most of the time, nothing really important would have happened. So this happens, and as a result of that, this next thing happens six months later.

The last quarter of this book is actually kind of bonkers in the grand scheme of things. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but there’s a lot going on, and a lot of plot twists and reveals and so on. I really liked it, although the ending, from what I read, is somewhat controversial. I don’t think it’s what happened at the end (because I thought it was a logical end to this story), but more of how it ended that’s made this so. It’s not a cliffhanger, as this story is more or less standalone, but it is quite… abrupt. That said, there are more books following characters from this story, and that’s good enough for me. I do believe that I am definitely going to read them!

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This is mostly how Waray manifested in my head from the very start. But… uh… with more scales and less hair, I guess. 😀

A really interesting and unique story with interesting creatures, characters, and enough mythology that my mytho-nerd self did a squee. I give it 4.5/5 stars!

You can see this book on goodreads here, or grab a copy of it here.

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