Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor
First Published: September 27th 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Overall Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Young Adult
Source: Purchased from Amazon
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones
Daughter of Smoke and Bone Summary
“Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.
The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.
When Brimstone called, she always came.”
In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.
Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.
This series is beautifully crafted and driven by emotion. Laini Taylor has successfully built a world that is so captivating you find yourself so immersed you forget about everything else. I continue to be haunted by these characters and I applaud Taylor for the intricacy and care taken in the development of the world and the characters.
When it comes to fantasy there are two components that are crucial to me. This series ticks all those boxes.
The first is consistent character development. The complexity of the characters took my breath away. These books belong to Karou and Akiva and the journey they take both as a team and as individuals is stunning. I think this is highlighted in Days of Blood and Starlight. In this book Karou’s path takes a darker turn; this is mainly due to Akiva’s heart-wrenching confession at the end of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Karou is out for vengeance and has lost herself in her grief and anger. In losing herself in these dark emotions, she essentially allows herself to become a weapon for destruction. She is also ignorant of the cunning, twisted manipulation of the White Wolf, who has his own agenda and only sees blood and violence as a solution to the war. Karou’s path mimics Akiva’s journey at the beginning of the series and while her anger is understandable, I found her hypocrisy when confronting Akiva to be painfully frustrating. However, if Karou’s journey had not taken this darker path I don’t think I would have been as emotionally invested. Karou needed to take this path so that she herself could not only understand the consequence of war and grief but understand how Akiva could also have fallen into this path. This understanding ultimately leads to the reigniting of hope and ultimately forgiveness on both sides for the horrors they’ve not only witnessed but also have been responsible for.
Akiva’s journey is equally emotional. In contrast to Karou, Akiva is the one that carries this sense of hope. As a child bred and born to be merely a weapon for war, Akiva is burdened by the weight of everything he’s seen and done. He’s tired of being a weapon and strives to see the dream he once desperately believed in come to fruition. To me, his hope carries this series. He’s not ignorant to the horror’s he’s inflicted and his honesty and remorse for everything he’s done is beautifully heartbreaking. I have so much respect for Akiva.
Together Karou and Akiva are a force to be reckoned with. These two inspire hope in the hopeless. Their love story is not an easy journey and at times it seems like their dream is unreachable. However, they’re determined and continue to believe that they have something worth fighting for; that their love can be the change that the world needs.
The second component in a good fantasy series is world building. The first two books excels at developing and expanding the world of Eretz and the boundaries and history of that world and of the war. However, Dreams of Gods and Monsters took this fascinating world to a whole new dimension which made things a bit more complicated. I found that because of the sudden importance of the Stelians, I felt like the final book was so overwhelmed by these new concepts that the Karou and Akiva’s dream lost a bit of its momentum. I didn’t care for Eliza and the Stelians and I would have preferred this plot thread to have been introduced and explored a bit more in the earlier books instead of info dumping this in the last book.
Despite my qualms with the third book, this series is sensational. Akiva and Karou have one of the most heart-wrenching and beautiful love stories. The secondary characters are equally as compelling and ensure that the plot isn’t too consumed by the grief and heartache. The writing is dreamlike, lyrical and completely captivating. For fantasy readers, I’d definitely recommend you pick up this series.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone: 4 Stars
Days of Blood and Starlight: 4.5 Stars
Dream of Gods and Monsters: 3.5 Stars