Hello Humans! One of the things I love about my blogging journey is reading series, something about recording what you read and when makes reading a series all the more satisfying, I can (often vaguely) remember where I was when I was reading the previous book(s) in a series and I can look back on things when I read the next one. It’s sad and sappy but it brings a little joy to my day.
The series I’ve most recently progressed in is Ausma Zehanat Khan’s Khorasan Archive series, the third book of which, The Blue Eye, I finished near the end of November – I managed to snag a copy of this from Netgalley and I’m thrilled to tell you all about it!
Yes, it is just that thrilling.
The Companions of Hira have used their cunning and their magic in the battle against the patriarchal Talisman, an organization whose virulently conservative agenda restricts free thought. One of the most accomplished Companions, Arian, continues to lead a disparate group in pursuit of the one artifact that could end the Talisman’s authoritarian rule: The Bloodprint.
But after a vicious battle, the arcane tome has slipped once more beyond her reach. Despite being separated and nearly losing their lives, Arian’s band of allies has remained united. Yet now, the group seems to be fracturing. To continue the fight, Arian must make a dangerous journey to a distant city to recruit new allies. But instead of her trusted friends, she is accompanied by associates she may no longer be able to trust.
I should probably start with a little bit of context, which I always find helpful when thinking about later books in a series.
I actually purchased both The Bloodprint and The Black Khan for myself, but I ended up getting rid of them in a series of book purges over the last two years. If you’ve followed my booktube channel you’ll know that my criteria for keeping a book on my shelf is that I have to be able to see myself re-reading it. In the case of the first two books in this series, I just wasn’t sure I was invested enough in either the story or the characters to feel like I might want to re-read.
In a fun twist, it was this, the third book in the series, that finally toppled me into the ‘oh no this might be worth reading’…bucket? So, while I can’t now get the other two books back, I’ll maybe think about grabbing them from the library if the fancy takes me.
But let’s talk about The Blue Eye, why was it that this book hit home in a way that the other books did not? As with most books, it could be circumstantial, maybe I’m just in a better place than I was when I read the first two, maybe I’m more accustomed to adult fantasy than I was a couple of years ago? But I think an element of it is that Ausma Zehanat Khan’s writing has so evidently developed across this series. I found it so much easier to get into this book and to keep my focus, where I really struggled to keep track of the characters and plot in the first book. I genuinely think that’s because the writing is better, it still feels so rich in detail and lore and you get that sense that the story is just scratching the surface of events in this world, but it doesn’t feel like work to read – which I appreciated.
I thought that the plot was good, I don’t think I could summarise the plot of the first two books with any kind of confidence, but this one felt clear and memorable. In this case I thought that the multiple points of view gave the book a lot more scope, I suppose because everything was coming to a climax. It really felt like that good epic fantasy ending where you have the people caught up in the enormous world-ending moments alongside the much ‘quieter’ plot that is nonetheless important. I’m annoyed that the only comparison I can draw here is the end to the Lord of the Rings because I should have better examples – but there we are. One day when I am more well-read.
I had one big qualm, which has stuck with me since finishing the book, and it’s one of those ‘I can’t go into this because it’s a spoiler’ kind of critiques which are frustrating but quite common. Let it be enough to say that I don’t think the queer representation was handled well within this story. If you’ve read this and you want to talk about it feel free to message me! But that’s as much as I can say without spoiling anything.
There is romance in this series and it does continue into this book. I feel like I should touch on it even though it isn’t the main thrust of this book because it is quite significant within the story. All I’ll say is that I am not the kind of person who responds well to people forcing themselves to make a choice between their ‘vows’ (of whatever) and the person with whom they have openly admitted they are in love. I think that comes from knowing too many religious people who make their lives more difficult without necessarily having a good reason. But maybe that’s your favourite romance trope – who am I to judge?
Overall, I thought this book was really strong, definitely my favourite out of the series so far and certainly something I would recommend to people who enjoyed the originals and to people who, like me, may have had more of a problem getting into books one and two.
My rating: 3.5 stars
I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher, all opinions are my own.
The Blue Eye is available now!
What say you? Will you be reading this? Let me know in the comments below!