The Merciless Ones (The Gilded Ones #2) by Namina Forna #bookreview #YA #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

Fans of The Gilded Ones and Children of Blood and Bone will love the second book in an epic fantasy series about a girl who is the key to saving the empire–or its greatest threat.

It’s been six months since Deka has freed the goddesses and discovered who she really is. There are now wars waging across the kingdom. Otereans now think jatu are traitors to the nation. Deka is called a monster.

But the real battle has only just begun and Deka must lead the charge. Deka is tasked with freeing the rest of the goddesses. Only as she begins to free them, she begins to see a strange symbol everywhere in places of worship and worn on armor. There’s something unnatural about that symbol; just looking at it makes Deka lose her senses. Even worse, it seems to repel her powers. She can’t command or communicate with the new deathshrieks. In fact, she can’t even understand them when they speak.

Deka knows freeing the goddesses is just the beginning. She can tell whatever dark force out is powerful and there is something sinister out there threatening the kingdom connected to that symbol–something merciless–that her army will need to stop before humanity crumbles. But Deka’s powers are only getting stronger…and her strongest weapon could be herself. 

I read the first book in this series, a remarkable debut by this author, last year and was anxious to see where the story of these female warriors’ led them next.

Deka freed many of the goddesses in The Gilded Ones, but her work is far from over. Several more, along with other innocents, are still held captive. When an unusual symbol seems to allow a group of jatu soldiers to resist Deka’s commands and then reanimate after being killed, she’s tasked by the four mothers to track down Elder Kadiri and locate an arcane object. To help her accomplish this mission, she’s joined by her alaki and deathshriek sisters and the Uruni. Before long, Deka is left questioning everything she thought she knew.

This story is brimming with secrets and betrayals leading to plot twists that aren’t difficult to figure out, although Deka is a little slow to pick up on them. The first book focuses on themes of racism and sexism in a male dominated world, but this followup shines a light on gender identity and sexuality. Representation is fantastic, and romantic relationships other than Deka’s and Keita’s are revealed – I was on board for all of them, but glad they’re not a prominent part of the story. World-building and strong friendships continue to be some of my favorite aspects about this series, but pacing is a little uneven in the first several chapters.

With one more book left in the series, it will be a long, impatient wait to see what happens to these characters.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

27 thoughts on “The Merciless Ones (The Gilded Ones #2) by Namina Forna #bookreview #YA #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

    1. I enjoyed the first one so much, I was kind of scared to see if this one lived up to it, Harmony. There was a little bit of middle book syndrome, but not much. Big developments! Hope you enjoy it!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Same, Caro. I plowed through book one, but this one wasn’t quite the same. Still enjoyed it. Is something going on with your blog? Haven’t been able to get to it all day – keep getting an error message.


  1. I’ve seen this book on NetGalley and around but since I didn’t read the first one, I let it pass. Sounds like I have missed a wonderful series with so many aspects that I look for – like incredible world-building. Excellent review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tessa! As you know, it’s hard to review subsequent books in a series without spoilers, but I do what I can. This is a wonderful series – hope you get a chance to read it sometime. Seems like I saw the first book on sale recently.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that’s the case for a lot of trilogies now.. I have found that I much prefer a duology because the second book always feels like a small letdown and filler. Not all cases but most, to me!

        Liked by 1 person

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