The Unspoken Name By A. K. Larkwood – An Audio Book Review

The Unspoken Name


Does she owe her life to those planning her death?

Csorwe was raised by a death cult steeped in old magic. And on her 14th birthday, she’ll be sacrificed to their god. But as she waits for the end, she’s offered a chance to escape her fate. A sorcerer wants her as his assistant, sword-hand and assassin. As this involves her not dying that day, she accepts. 

Csorwe spends years living on a knife-edge, helping her master hunt an artifact which could change many worlds. Then comes the day she’s been dreading. They encounter Csorwe’s old cult – seeking the same artifact – and Csorwe is forced to reckon with her past. She also meets Shuthmili, the war-mage who’ll change her future. 

If she’s to survive, Csorwe must dodge her enemies, claim the artifact and stop the death cult once and for all. As she plunges from one danger to the next, the hunt is on…. 

Author: A. K. Larkwood

Narrator: Avita Jay

Publisher: Tor

Running Time: 18hrs 37mins

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Serpent Gates #1

Audio Release Date: 20/02/20

My Rating Of ‘The Unspoken Name’: 1 out of 5

Purchase: Audible UKAudible USAmazon UKAmazon US


I just want to start by saying that this book, of all I have read since my decision not to DNF anything a couple of years back, was the closest I’ve ever came to just throwing in the towel.

I had really high hopes for this and had seen a plethora of glowing reviews. I’d seen the occasional negative review but they seemed so at odds with the five stars that it was very difficult to be swayed by the negative ones. If only I’d been a bit easier on the whole swaying thing :/

It started off fairly well and I enjoyed how everything was set up. After that, well, I just couldn’t bring myself to care about anything. The characters, the storytelling (or lack thereof), the (threadbare) plot, the world-building (or lack thereof). It’s one of the only books I’ve ever got through where, if the characters were real people and I stood and watched as someone stabbed them, I’d not care one way or the other.

I’ve seen people rave about the queer orc romance … but that was more of an awkward crush than anything and just popped up part way through without any real preamble. The word orc is a bit naughty and smacks of false advertising. Had these ‘orcs’ not got tusks and the ‘elves’ not got long ears, they’d just be human. There is literally nothing in their society or their general characters that makes them read as something other than human. You can call a cat a dog, but unless it has some traits of being a dog, it will always be a cat. That’s how I view these ‘elves’ and ‘orcs’. Csorwe gets mentioned as having tusks every now and then (and no attempt is made to explain how kissing on the lips works when there are tusks involved, but if everything else is a tad lazy, why put the effort in there?) so we know she’s an orc.

The characters, even when they are supposed to be in peril, never really feel like they’ll do anything other than succeed. The ever-looping plot device of ‘character needs to do a thing, goes to place to do said thing, pretends they’ll struggle and then accomplishes with ease’ gets boring very quickly. As does the fact that whenever someone betrays someone they are essentially forgiven because someone else will say ‘don’t be silly. Trust them. They’re lovely really’. So they trust them. It’s infuriating.

There also never seems to be any real cause and effect type thing. No matter what happens, you just know that someone will forgive the other person, even though they are mortal enemies, on the basis of some absolutely pointless argument which may amount to something as substantial as ‘but, that’s not fair’.

I never really felt too attached to Csorwe which, given the fact she’s the protagonist, is a major downside for me. I think this was because of the huge time skips near the start. They always happen at important points for her character development as well, so every bit of personal growth that she goes through happens behind the scenes. For instance, when she goes to become an assassin/hired blade etc … this is an entirely new thing for her and all we get as far as her training goes is a time jump sentence of ‘five years later’. She literally goes from near-useless fourteen year old girl with limited worldly experience to trained assassin in three words. These time jumps also happen at such strange times as during a personal rivalry. Hates someone on one page and after another handy (abominably lazy) time jump, she’s been working with him for years.

There truly were so few redeeming qualities for me in this book but, as I mentioned before, there are so many positive reviews so it’s entirely possible I was just one of those rare few that couldn’t get the goodness out of it that so many others did. 

I wasn’t overly thrilled with the narration. The main narrative voice was good, but some of the voices put on for the characters were so wildly different that it just felt odd. 

8 thoughts on “The Unspoken Name By A. K. Larkwood – An Audio Book Review

    1. Yea, fortunately it wssn’t as long as ‘The Priory of the Orange Tree’ (that one nearly broke me.

      Did any of the concerns I raised pop up during your read? Or was this just one of those ‘square peg in a round hole’ as far as loving a book was concerned for me?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, yeah, that’s about 1,000 pages isn’t it?

        The Orc thing niggled me a bit and yeah, she acted very much like a human and not what an orc acts like and without the mention of tusks you would think that she was human. She definitely wouldn’t fit in with the orcs in The Grey Bastards or even LOTR.

        The time jumps didn’t bother me, they often do in books, but in this they didn’t, I can definitely see where you are coming from though, use a time jump to avoid detailed development, etc. The romance I thought was well done and not in your face which I was dreading.

        We can’t love them all, I really enjoyed it, many others did and a few disliked it, some even gave it 1* and hated it. 😉 At least it’s one of those books with a spectrum of reviews so whether you love it or hate it you aren’t alone in your opinion and it’s not all just glowing praise like Snowblind so no, not a square peg in a round hole for The Unspoken Name, it just didn’t work for you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yea, I’ll not lie, the romance was a thing I was worrying about. I was really hoping that it wasn’t going to be the main focus. So that’s a plus at least.

        Yea … Priory was so many pages. So, so many pages. It actually felt twice as long as it was.

        Liked by 1 person

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