Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars
After earning her first “mark” Kyra, at nineteen, has become the youngest current Markswoman for the Order of Kali, the oldest of the five Orders in Asiana. The Orders consist of groups of elite warrior women who are bonded to and fight with their katari swords—we won’t mention the anomaly that is the Order of Kuhr, youngest of the Orders, and made up of Marksmen.
Ever since being adopted into the Order at the age of five after the brutal slaying of her family and people, Kyra has long held the hope of avenging her family’s death, and with becoming a Markswoman, she’s one step closer to being able to make that a reality. Her plans are pushed back, however, when Shirin Mam, the head of the Order of Kali dies unexpectedly, and Kyra immediately senses foul play. In order to stay alive long enough to see justice served, Kyra runs, and encounters help from where she least expected it: from the Marksmen of the Order of Kuhr.
Now, preparing for the fight of her life, with the help of fellow Marksman Rustan, Kyra learns what it truly means to be a Markswoman, and to wield the magic of her katari.
Markswoman boasts a wonderful dystopian view of Asia that, upon finishing, I immediately wanted to jump right back into. I can honestly not tell you how much I’m looking forward to learning more about this unique world and its history. Rati Mehrotra does a great job of making the story one that deftly straddles the line between YA and adult, and I think we could see this shift as Kyra grows in future books.
The growth that Kyra experiences in this book alone is exponential. She starts out as a novice, just having taken her first life. Dealing with the consequences of being the person to end someone else’s existence, even though it was sanctioned, carries weight. Her need for revenge also clouds her judgment a little, but when her teacher dies, everything she thought she knew, everything she’s been taught, is challenged.
On the opposite side we have Rustan. He’s a couple of years older than Kyra and a little more experienced, but he’s just had to take care of a difficult mark himself and begins to question the validity of the Order. As Kyra and Rustan work together their separate views of the Order give them each new perspective, hopefully paving a way for the Order to get past many of its antiquated traditions.
One minor thing that kept this from being a fully five-star read for me was the development of Kyra and Rustan’s relationship. Over the course of the story, Kyra and Rustan grow closer than is considered proper by many in the Order. It’s something they both struggle with, but lends weight to their changing view of the Order. However, I felt like instead of putting a little more focus into showcasing scenes of Kyra and Rustan overcoming their prejudices towards ones another, it gets overshadowed a bit too much by world-building. I felt like one page they loathed each other, and the next they loved each other. I wanted to see more of the progression. I’m hoping that subsequent sequels will put a little more focus on their burgeoning relationship.
Markswoman hits a lot of pros on my list. A strong, yet still flawed, central heroine coming more into her powers, and the brooding hero who helps her, along with a vast and interesting world—better get the Best Of List started.
Sexual content: kissing