The Tenets in the Tattoos by Becky James
Release Date: August 9, 2021
For a lengthy, epic tale that grows and grows and grows, for emotional messages and themes carried throughout the book, for humour and action and reflection all nicely balanced
FYI: I wrote this blurb, because the one for the book is AWFUL, as I mention in my review! This one is better representative of what you can look forward to in this fantastic book. 😁
Thorrn is an accomplished swordsman desperate for his promotion, but he is considered only half a person until he finds his soul companion. Unfortunately, Evyn, Thorrn’s newly found soul companion, is… distinctly underwhelming. But when his king is deposed and the usurper demands Evyn to be used for the power of her Earthian blood, Thorrn is forced to fight against everything he’s ever stood for in order to save her.
Aubin is sick of missing out on happiness. Chafing at injustices piled on him for his position as an apothecary, he’s ready to quit. When Aubin’s timing takes him into the path of Thorrn, Evyn, and the new king, he has to decide what he will risk for a chance at what he’s always been missing.
Sharing their worlds and learning how to work together, Thorrn, Evyn, and Aubin have to figure out a way to save not only each other, but possibly the whole fragile peace of Thorrn’s world from the threat of magical war.
The first thing I think after finishing this book is that the blurb for it does not do it justice at all for how the story goes. The blurb sounds like there’s a soldier struggling with the morality of an order, and an apothecary seeking immortality who decides to commit treason in a last-ditch effort to seek something better. What’s very much missing from this is any mention of what a soul companion actually is or why it’s significant, or the fact that his female soul companion is an integral part of this whole journey — and yet not once is she mentioned! Awful blurb, but a pretty good book.
I was most surprised by two things in about equal measure: the careful attention to the growth of each character and their relationships, and the sheer complexity and length of the story. It’s about 400 pages, which is on the longer side, but it felt like a complete epic story of Tolkien’s style (minus the details in extreme). There is just SO MUCH to the story! From the start to the end, so much happens that it really sucked me in with the characters. I was invested and I cared a lot about each of them. And yet, the pace was never too fast or too slow. I was always interested and entertained. I learned about the characters, but that happened through action and conversation blended evenly.
Now, again: there’s a whole other main character who isn’t even mentioned in the blurb. Evyn is the Earthian soul companion who becomes a fulcrum of drama (partly because Thorrn is an idiot sometimes…). But she is funny, and important, and unsure, and clever. I really adored the way I saw her and Thorrn balanced each other out and learn from each other. It was surprisingly realistic in some ways, for the way they interacted and fought and loved.
One other thing to mention is that it’s refreshingly light on romantic love. It’s there, and it plays a pivotal aspect, but it’s not what I would call a romance element. Soul companions are not necessarily lovers, and I super appreciated that. At first I was like, oh what so everyone is hetero and soul companions are all female/male? They do mention a male/male pair at one point, and the whole way through it’s very clear that soul companions are intimately bonded, but not intimately ahem involved.
Overall, this book was HELLA good as a fantasy adventure with royalty and magic elements. And it made me laugh and smile a lot, which is always fantastic. I am definitely going to continue this series, and also I am baffled and low-key outraged that this book hasn’t gotten more attention! Consider this my effort to help resolve that!
Thanks to Becky James and Booksirens for a free advanced copy. This is my honest review!
4 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Tenets in the Tattoos by Becky James”
Omg, this sounds AMAZING? After reading the blurb you wrote I got the urge to immediately pick up this book because it sounds like a fun adventure and is it right that I’m getting some “found family” vibes from this trio, too? Love the concept of the soul companion and that it’s not just a romantic bond, and Thorrn and Evyn sound like really great characters! Great review 😃
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Thanks so much! The blurb for it take didn’t do it any justice, so I gave it my best. Definitely a hidden gem! And 💯 found family going on