Release date: 11 April 2023
Synopsis: Ester’s family was torn apart when a manticore killed her mother and baby brother, leaving her with nothing but her father’s painful silence and a single, overwhelming need to kill the monsters that took her family.
Ester’s path leads her to the King’s Royal Mews, where the giant rocs of legend are flown to hunt manticores by their brave and dedicated ruhkers. Paired with a fledgling roc named Zahra, Ester finds purpose and acclaim by devoting herself to a calling that demands absolute sacrifice and a creature that will never return her love. The terrifying partnership between woman and roc leads Ester not only on the empire’s most dangerous manticore hunt, but on a journey of perseverance and acceptance.
I've never read Fonda Lee before; if every Fonda Lee book is this good, I want them all. Another short book to add to the newish trend of short pieces of writing, like those of T. Kingfisher and Roth’s latest, Untethered Sky is a novella that packs a punch. Highly recommend for those who want a good book with romance (though it’s not the main focus at all and has no spice), animal companionship, and loads of action.
Rocs are gigantic birds of prey akin to falcons and eagles trained and used specifically for hunting large, predatory animals that plague the land. Our heroine, Ester, witnessed and survived an attack from a manticore when she was small, to the chagrin of her father. Determined to make a difference in the world and get revenge on the manticore that slaughtered half of her family, Ester joins the Royal roc training grounds and soon gets a bird of her own—and she uses it to hunt down the beasts.
On the way to becoming a seasoned rukhar, Ester develops relationships she never expected she would. She makes connections to the royal family, befriends a wallflower trainer who knows more about the rocs than just about any other person in the Mews, and even falls in love.
What I love most about Untethered Sky is that the book isn’t just about Ester learning to hunt manticores with enormous rocs. Though short, the book contains myriads of other facets. It’s a story of falling in love, redemption, self-sacrifice, friendship, court politics, and hope. Ester doesn’t go through the book single-minded. She hopes for the attention of her father and endeavors to do well as a rukhar to attract his attention. At the end of the book, she is a different person altogether from how we meet her at the at the beginning.
Untethered Sky releases on 11 April 2023 in the US (Amazon UK has a release date for the hardcover of 23 May 2023). If you haven’t already preordered it or put it on hold at your local library (if you can this early), I recommend doing so. I don’t think this one will disappoint.
My thanks to NetGalley for the eARC, for which I give my own, honest opinion.