Review: The Lascar’s Dagger by Glenda Larke

LascarsDaggerSeries: The Forsaken Lands #1
Published by: Orbit
ISBN: 0316399663
ISBN 13: 9780316399661
Published: March 2014
Pages: 469
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended

‘The Lascar’s Dagger’ by Glenda Larke is the first in The Forsaken Lands trilogy, a book I’ve been excited for ever since I heard of it, as Glenda Larke is one of my favourite authors.

Saker seems to attract trouble, which makes life interesting when you are a spy, acting under cover as though he’s simply a priest of the Va-Faith (as compared to that of The Way of the Oak and Flow, the competing religion in their lands). He acts directly for the Pontifect of the Va-Faith, carrying out orders and travelling the lands as so may be required. It is on these travels when he is wounded by a lascar’s blade by a sailor youth when they bump into each other in hiding… and from then on, the blade seems to leave the youth, and instead follow Saker around, wherever he may travel.

The youth is known as Ardhi, who seeks revenge for something disastrous that happened to his people. This also takes him across the world, and his path crosses Saker’s more than once.

We also have Sorrel Redwing, who is on the run after finally setting herself free from her violent husband, but now also leaves her at the mercy of spoilt Princess Mathilda, whom she turns to as a servant. Sorrel is probably the most complicated and interesting character of the novel, and also acts as the turning point for the novel in many areas of the plot.

Throughout this novel we have a complicated blend of politics, religion, magic and allegiances, with sharp and deep worldbuilding that takes care to show the differences between lands. This gives the novel depth, as some other fantasy novels either show you only the one land, or all the lands seem rather similar. In this novel you see what is allowable in one region, and not allowed in anther. Glenda Larke’s travels show in this work – she lived in Malaysia for several decades, which is evident in this series especially.

What I loved especially was the slight ways Larke subverted tropes within this work – like how within her society, there was more gender equality seen within the religious order, than throughout the rest of the world. We see this most with Sorrel especially, and the unfairness she faced, which drove her to what she did at the start of the novel.

The pacing throughout this novel is comfortable. It eases you into where the full story begins, and throughout keeps the same speed, showing all characters right when needed, so you’re never left wishing you saw most of a certain character or feeling bored or like it’s dragging when it changes to follow another character.

Overall this is one of Glenda Larke’s best books – though her Watergivers series is damn excellent also. I highly recommend both series.

The next book is the series is currently titled The Dagger’s Path, and is due out in 2015.

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