“Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.
Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.
When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.” (via Goodreads)
Julia Ember’s The Tiger’s Watch is the first novella in the Ashes of Gold series. With a start like this I can’t wait to see where the rest of the series will go. The story itself is intriguing and exciting, all high fantasy and queer YA in a non-Western setting. It takes a while for the story to get going, but once it does it never lets up. The world Ember has created is interestingly complex (maybe a little too complex for 150 pages) and there’s easily enough to fill a dozen sequels. Her fantasyland is lush fascinating, and if the ending of The Tiger’s Watch is any indication, Tashi’s about to see a whole lot more of it…
Read the rest of this review at Tor.com.
Suddenly, a riding crop darted out. I inched, but the commander lifted my chin with the soft leather and forced me to look at him. I swallowed down terror. His face was young, beardless. I noticed the smoothness of it—he didn’t look old enough to have been in battle at all, much less risen to the rank of commander. He had blue-green eyes and light, freckled skin. He studied me in turn and then crouched down for a closer look. His fingers replaced the crop under my chin, and he turned my face to the side. I closed my eyes and tried to distance myself from the humiliation of his inspection.
When he took hold of my wrist, I nearly cried out from the pain. Yellow burns covered my raw palms.
“What’s wrong with your hands? Do you have a sickness?” He didn’t wait for an answer, turning to Ugyen instead. “What is wrong with him? You assured us this place was clear of disease and would be appropriate for our purposes.”
I cleared my throat, annoyance at being talked around giving me a voice. “No… Commander… sir… it’s from this soap that we used on the floor.”
Ugyen flushed, and I was glad looking at my blisters made him ashamed.
Thanks to Harmony Ink for sending me a review copy.
Do the world a favor and buy this book from your local indie bookstore or get it from your public library.