Book: The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold 1) by Julia Ember
Release Date: Augst 22nd 2017
Tags: Fantasy / Diverse Book / Genderfluid MC / POC / LGBTQ+ / Young Adult
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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.
One of the books I was looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts about was The Tiger’s Watch. So picture my excitement when I was approved for it on Netgalley. In the end this book turned out very different from what I thought it was going to be. And despite my 4 star rating, I can’t quite decide whether or not this is a good thing.
First thing that very surprised me was that this book is under 200 pages. I was not expecting this book to be so short. I also think it is one of its downsides. There isn’t enough room for everything. When I got to the end there was nothing else and I wanted to scream. I wanted more. I needed more. The writing style was very addicting. It was solid.
The world building suffered for the shortness of the book. The book starts with a war going on but why exactly is not so clear. Why were they attacked all of a sudden again? Even so I did quite love the ideas this book had regarding the magic and the repercussions to bonding with an animal like that. And unlike others, I did think the book made it clear that this was not a choice for these young children. They were given away for this faith. But they were raised with the idea that this is a privilege.
Oh and Tasha. I loved Tasha from the start.Tasha is gender fluid and prefers them/they. I think that it was a great addition to the book. We really need more of that in fantasy. In any book really. But Tasha stole my heart which is why I am shaking my head so heart at the decision they made in the end. Why, Tasha, why? Even so I guess I can kind of understand. They were shoved into this, into something they didn’t want.
Unfortunately this book has a love triangle. Tasha is in love with one and in lust with the other. Too bad one of them is the enemy. Tasha, why? He’s hot but so what?
Pharo, Tasha’s friend, was such a loyal one throughout the book. Always speaking up when someone misaddressed their pronouns. Xian on the other hand is hard to get a read one. The enemy, the one with other values, the murderer yet he lets Tasha lash out at him without repercussions. I don’t understand him as a character at all. And even so I secretly ship him with Tasha. Why oh why, twisted heart? I blame this on Julia Ember’s writing.
Having said all this, I did fly through this book in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it despite my criticism in places. I honestly thought halfway through that I was going to rate this 5 stars. I was a bit disappointed with the way things went but even so I can’t wait for the next book. I am a bit disappointed as it seems that it will focus on Pharo. Despite that I like him I am currently very into Tasha’s narration.