For some, loss merely deprives. For others, it consumes.
Ashtadukht is a star-reckoner. The worst there’s ever been. Witness her treacherous journey through Iranian legends and ancient history.
Only a brave few storytellers still relate cautionary glimpses into the life of Ashtadukht, a woman who commanded the might of the constellations—if only just, and often unpredictably. They’ll stir the imagination with tales of her path to retribution. How, fraught with bereavement and a dogged illness, she criss-crossed Sassanian Iran in pursuit of creatures now believed mythical. Then, in hushed tones, what she wrought on that path.
These characters are very unique. Ashtaduskht is both mentally and physically flawed. She is mindless in her pursues and yet has a kindness to her. I never really liked her for some reason. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first but she is just so bitter and aloof. Even in the second half of the book, I couldn’t bring myself to care or like her. Mostly she irritated me.
Tirdad, her cousin and protector, is a relief from her bitterness because he is a very noble soul. Despite his love sick school boy routine, I quite liked him. Between him and Waray (a half-div) I felt the story improved. They were as much her support as they were the crux of the book’s interest for me.
You do not get any back story besides a little peek. Beyond that you have to pay attention in order to understand, which I really enjoyed. Each chapter jumps forward in time, sometimes a day, sometimes months. Beyond the somewhat jarring timeline, the events are not clearly portrayed as to be linked towards a common cause at first. I enjoyed the first half of the book, it was like a collection of short stories where the main characters were the same and going on different adventures.
I’ll go ahead and let you know there is a plot twist in the middle-end of the book. Once that happens I had a very hard time marrying up the pace of the first half of the book with the second. I saw most of it coming, the author hinted at it enough, but not even I guessed at it all. After the major twist the characters seem to change – Ashtadukht the most. It was almost like reading two different stories trapped within a single book and I didn’t like it.
The author does a great job creating very complex characters. The writing is elevated, and the author does not shy away from lengthy names and a vast vocabulary. This is a hauntingly dark book about people more than the stories. The fantastical aspect of this book was gripping and rarely was I lost in what was happening. It was very imaginative and entertaining. The historical aspect was also appealing with the myths of a country being highlighted.
I really struggled with this rating and even though I’m giving it 3.5 stars it is 3.5 stars rounded down. It is imaginative, haunting, and has complex characters. Despite its positive aspects the disconnection between the first half of the book and the progression after the plot twist wasn’t enjoyable. Furthermore, the main character was neither likeable nor relatable to me and I struggled with any sort of connection. I still believe this is a good book and worth the read but whoever picks this up must be prepared for all its facets; good and bad.
I receive a copy in exchange for an honest review.