I love a good political drama, and this book has a lot of it as well as many other things I love: political intrigue, mystery, romance, and the typical fantasy coming of age tale. The book begins with Yeine travelling from Darr to Sky, the largest city in her world and also the Palace of the ruling Arameri family...the family her mother left years before to marry Yeine's father. She is called mysteriously to the city by her grandfather, Dekarta Arameri the head of the family and all around ruler of the world she lives in. When her mother left the family, she was disowned and no one ever bothered with Yeine before, so she wonders what her grandfather wants with her. She has no interest in her mother’s family other than to find out what role if any they had with her death. She soon learns that Dekarta is acknowledging her as one of his heirs and wants her to compete with her two cousins for his position. Yeine and everyone else know that this is impossible because her cousins have a head start on her and are known, like all other Arameri before them, to be vicious. They have been battling each other from the womb. They would stop at nothing to win, and murder seems to be a totally acceptable method. The head of the family is encouraged to be without remorse and hard in order to maintain rule. So everyone knows Yeine will probably not make it out alive.
The history of the Arameri family is slowly explained as the chapters go by, and it is shown why they are such a vicious and hard people. Their task in the world is to serve as priests of the sort for the God Itempas. There was a war between the Gods: Itempas, Enefa, and Nahadoth, who are sibling. Itempas defeated them, killing Enefa and imprisoning Nahadoth and his other Godling children in human flesh and giving them basically as slaves to the family of his most trusted Priestess...the Arameri. So the Arameri have so much power and control because they control Gods and use them to do their bidding against their enemies, or heretics. They use the Gods to maintain their rule and to make sure everyone continues to worship Itempas. As with anything, when one group has so much power over not only other mortals, but Gods....they can become twisted. And the Arameri are very twisted as Yeine learns. She can't trust anyone at Sky. They all have an ulterior motives for what they do and none of them would benefit from Yeine living. She is basically the pawn in a game between her powerful family and the Gods. None of them see her as more than a tool for their own ends.
The world created in this book is excellent. This is a world where there is no question that the Gods exist. They walk among the people and are unleashed on those who don't obey the Arameri. So we are introduced to a world that is living under a complete dictatorship. Dissent means death, and too many questions can be bad for your health. The people in Sky look at Yeine and they see a barbarian girl that has no chance in that environment, but Yeine soon begins to show them that she should not be underestimated. She forms an alliance with the most unexpected of people and that alliance leads to the final events that were both expected and surprising as well. Yeine know that either way she goes, it means her death...but her death did not have to mean the end and could be exactly what the world needs. And she is willing to sacrifice herself if it means destroying the Arameri.
This is the first installment of what looks to be three books, and I am very much looking forward to reading the others. This is very much recommended for people that like high fantasy type books.