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Reading Time: 3 minutes -

The Tenets in the Tattoos


Becky James

I believe I might once have seen the author refer to her main character as the world’s most annoying swordsman, and let me tell you, she’s not wrong.

In fact, the first time I attempted to read this book, I gave up before I could finish the free sample I’d downloaded, simply because the main character was so full of himself, and so completely without any self-awareness.

Even so, I kept hearing good things about this book, repeatedly, from people who’s opinion I (still) trust and appreciate. Could I have been wrong? Surely not? I’m never wrong, am I, about anything, ever?

Spoiler: I was wrong.

Sure, the main character is thoroughly insufferably in his confidence and awareness of his skill and general superiority. The thing, and what I didn’t realize the first time around, is that this is very intentional, and it’s extremely well done.

Thorrn, the main character isn’t some epic badass living out the author’s power-fantasy of kicking ass, taking names, and getting all the babes. He’s a serious-minded, idealistic young man with no sense of humor or imagination, and who’s determined to do his best to fulfill his duties and uphold the ideals of the military unit he’s part of.

The story begins just as things, for the first time in Thorrn’s life, start to go wrong, and it follows him as he learns to deal with it. He’s an odd, frustrating, and infuriating character, and more than once, I found myself groaning in despair at how absolutely oblivious he is to the fact that maybe, perhaps, potentially, there is a tiny little chance that he might not have it all figured out.

It’s as if the idea that he might be wrong about something has never entered his mind. It’s never even crossed the border into the tidy little world he thinks he knows so well.

Now, this could be completely and utterly awful, but it’s not. Actually, it’s quite the opposite.

For all his flaws, Thorrn has the best intentions, and he really wants to do the right thing. In between bouts of being completely unbearable, he’s actually quite charming – bordering on adorable.

The story itself is a Young Adult Portal Fantasy. Thorn is due to finally meat his soul-mate, and not only isn’t she the stunning hot babe he’d envisioned. She’s not even from his world. There’s also a plot to overthrow the king, an encounter with a car, dangerous magicians, and friends who are suddenly enemies for no obvious reason whatsoever (at least according to Thorrn).

What I’ll Whine About

At times there were a lot of secondary characters that I wasn’t able to keep track of – especially with regard to the royal family. The same goes with Thorrn’s friends from the special forces.

What I’ll Gush About

In case that wasn’t clear from the above, the characterization in this book utterly amazing. It’s also not just Thorrn that’s a great character, Evyn and Aubin are also very well written.

I don’t normally enjoy the “young people problems” part of YA books, but I don’t think this story would have worked nearly as well outside of the YA category.

Final Words

An excellent Young Adult adventure for the reader who wants a hero outside of the regular badass world-saver.

Find The Tenets in the Tattoos on Goodreads.

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