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The Unspoken Name: The Serpent Gates #1    by A.K. Larkwood order for
Unspoken Name
by A.K. Larkwood
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Unspoken Name opens A.K. Larkwood's unusual new fantasy series, The Serpent Gates. Its lead is Orc priestess Csorwe, 'the Chosen Bride of the Unspoken One'. She has been raised from childhood in the House of Silence to eventually climb a nearby mountain, enter the Shrine, and become the god's next sacrifice.

Csorwe avoids this dire fate with the help of wizard Belthandros Sethennai. He seeks information on the powerful Reliquary of Pentravesse from the House's librarian, priestess Oranna. Sethennai offers Csorwe a very different life out among the many worlds. He helps her escape and has her trained as his personal assassin and general fixer.

Csorwe becomes very good at the tasks the wizard assigns her. Their paths cross with Oranna's again and again. Sethennai takes on another assistant, Talasseres, who sees Csorwe as a rival. Sethennai gives them an assignment that leads them to Qanwa Shuthmili. A powerful Adept, her life is totally controlled by others, which wins her Csorwe's sympathy - and eventually love.

In the adventures that follow, they rescue each other several times, and Csorwe eventually has to choose between loyalty to Sethennai, and to Shuthmili. Though convoluted, this story is well worth the read and I look forward to more in the series.

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