I received an ebook copy of Sanyare: The Last Descendant from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I would classify Sanyare: The Last Descendant, by Megan Haskell, as an urban fantasy set in a fantasy world. While most urban fantasy I’ve read is set in our own world, albeit one with magic and such, this deals with different realms and only briefly touches on the human realm. The overall story wasn’t entirely innovative (as many fantasy tales tend to be), but it was written in a way that made it interesting, and the characters were done well. The climax felt rushed and sudden, and the ending felt a little like it was merely a set up for another book. Regardless, I think fans of light fantasy or urban fantasy could definitely find merit in Haskell’s world and its inhabitants. I will call this one READ WITH CAUTION, as the overall work was good, but the climax and conclusion had a few issues.
Here, There Be Spoilers
Sanyare: The Last Descendant, is an urban fantasy that leans toward the side of light fantasy. It has the urban locale and somewhat modern-day vibe to it, but it also deals heavily with realms other than the human one and doesn’t have the same grit that most urban fantasy I’ve read seems to contain. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it was something I thought about several times while reading.
Rie is a messenger for the high elves, a changeling who was once human and taken in by two high elves, though her human status means she can only be a servant in their culture. She’s treated well and life is good until she goes to deliver a message to a high elf living in the human realm, where she is attacked by two assassins. After finding out they are from the Shadow Realm and dealing with politics that will execute her for coming into contact with them (even unwillingly), Rie ventures into the Shadow Realm to try and find out why she was a target.
The novel contains a lot of complicated elvish names. While this is somewhat expected with so many elves running about, this traditional elf naming can be a bit cumbersome to read. Luckily, most of the main characters have simpler elf names, or go by shortened names (like Rie, herself). Otherwise, the cast of characters is one of less popular beings from the otherworld, including brutish redcaps and carnivorous pixies. Upon starting the book and reading about the pixie companions, I almost rolled my eyes (I don’t know why, but pixies always conjure up things like Barbie fairies), but was pleasantly surprised when they attacked the assassins and ate out their tongues.
There seemed to be a little too much awareness of sexuality within the story, at least between the main character and her love interest. I always wonder if perhaps I’m just not as aware of those I find attractive as other people, but I find it odd that in times of stress and being completely out of their element, characters still find the time to examine bulging muscles and get flirty. I don’t necessarily mind Rie’s attraction to the Prince, but it irked me a little how quickly and ardently she admired him, especially after having been around the beauty of high elves all her life (perhaps his differences as a dark elf made him more exotic). This may not be a problem for most readers.
The biggest issue in the book for me was that the climax, while much anticipated, seemed rushed and sudden. I felt like once it crested and started tumbling down the other side, I was still expecting or wanting more. I was very happy that Rie wasn’t imbued with all the superpowers ever, as some characters can be, and I was pleased with the way she solved her own issues. But I can’t help but feel like it just didn’t live up to the rest of the book, and that a spoiled princess getting scared and a challenge to a new ability of Rie’s were the only big things that happened. I guess I just felt like there should have been a little more, or a bigger issue with the souls, or something of that nature.
After the climax left me feeling a bit unsatisfied, the rest of the book seemed a bit off, too. The lengthy description of each child of the Sanyaro and the logistics of how Rie is his descendant may be necessary, but it felt a bit boring to read about, and seemed to go on too long. At any rate, the ending definitely led up to a sequel. I would consider reading the sequel, depending on how much it cost. I will also readily admit that my view of the ending could be flavored by feelings about the climax.
Overall, I would say this is a fairly solid light fantasy book, even if it did have its issues. I felt the characters were compelling and that the author really tried to bring life to a story that may have otherwise been a bit hum ho. I’ll call this READ WITH CAUTION, as many readers would enjoy it, but those with more discerning fantasy tastes may feel a bit underwhelmed by the last 20% of the novel.