Published: July 18, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 354 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 2.5/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.
The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.
Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?
Fair warning for all the people like me that were excited for a book that seemed to be about a mystical library that could change the past – The Library of Fates is barely about a library at all. I suppose you could say the title and synopsis are somewhat misleading.
The plot of the story was fairly interesting – the country of Shalingar is being visited by Sikander of Macedon (obviously Alexander the Great) who’s offering them a lovely trade deal that includes the engagement of Princess Amrita to Sikander. Amrita and her father are none too happy about this because Sikander is a pestilent old despot with golden front teeth and a nasty habit of enslaving and murdering his way across continents. Amrita escapes with a Seer named Thala and they go on quite a journey to find both the Library of Fates to alter the course of events that lead them to their current situation and warn the Sybillines, a secretive people who produce a coveted drug, that Sikander is determined to find and enslave them. Sounds like a riveting read, no? Well, not really.
The Library of Fates has the benefit of a beautiful and exotic setting reminiscent of the romanticized version of India that we are often presented with. There are glittering palaces, lush gardens, elephants, and mountain temples visited by a steady tide of pilgrims. I couldn’t help but to imagine how wonderful it might be to live in Shalingar, as our protagonist Amrita does, because at times the description of the setting is vivid. Unfortunately, the story suffers from a lack of depth by which I was rather disappointed. I liked the characters, but the author wasn’t exactly going to any great effort to wring emotion from my cold, jaded heart. Really though, this read more like a lengthy bedtime story than an actual novel and I know that sounds like a callous judgement (it is), but the story did nothing for me other than to fill a few hours of my day. It wasn’t a truly bad book and I liked the concept, the gorgeous setting, and the overall plot of the story. If it sounds like something you would enjoy, then by all means, check it out but don’t set your expectations too high!
Overall, The Library of Fates simply lacked the depth, detail, and character engagement that would garner a higher rating. This is a young adult book, but aside from the discussion of drug use and withdrawal process, it would read more like a middle grade novel. The plot threads were wrapped up very quickly and rather easily in my opinion, but the author left enough open ended that a sequel is definitely possible. I think I will refrain from reading the sequel unless reviews sway my opinion otherwise.