First of all I would like to thank the lovely folks over at Gollancz for being so kind and sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Collarbound by Rebecca Zahabi centres on (official blurb): “On the other side of the Shadowpass, rebellion is brewing and refugees have begun to trickle into the city at the edge of the world. Looming high on the cliff is The Nest, a fortress full of mages who offer protection, but also embody everything the rebellion is fighting against: a strict hierarchy based on magic abilities, and the oppression of the Kher community. When Isha arrives as a refugee, she attempts to fit in amongst the other mages, but her Kher tattoo brands her as an outcast. She can’t remember her past or why she has the tattoo. All she knows is that she survived. She doesn’t intend to give up now. Tatters, who wears the golden collar of a slave, knows that this rebellion is different from past skirmishes. He was once one of the rebels, fought beside them, and technically, they still own him. He plans to stay in the shadows, until Isha appears in his tavern. He’s never seen a human with a tattoo, and the markings look eerily familiar. Despite his fear of being discovered, Tatters decides to help her. As the rebellion carves a path of destruction towards the city, The Collarbound follows an unlikely friendship between a man trying to escape his past and a woman trying to uncover hers, until their secrets threaten to tear them apart.”
Just a quick disclaimer: I actually read this book back in May before it even came out but a lot happened i.e. I had covid and family things and also for some reason I was finding it really hard to write this review and I have no idea why because I bloody loved this book so much!
My first thoughts on finishing this absolutely beauty were: OMG! This book was everything I love in a fantasy and so much more! New favourite and I cannot wait for the second one! To be honest I need the second book right now! I need to know what’s going to happen next. I’m completely invested in these characters. They have my whole heart and I need to know that they are going to be okay. Okay now that I have shared my very chaotic first thoughts on finishing this book with you its time for my full review.
Secrets are more precious than money. They’re the currency of power.
The Collarbound is a debut novel by Rebecca Zahabi and also the start of a whole new and exciting fantasy series and let’s just say Rebecca did not disappoint. Her writing, character development, world building and storyline are all absolutely fantastic. Rebecca wholeheartedly knows how to not only build a narrative but also how to grab the attention of her reader as well as there heart and soul and not let go until the end of the book and even then she still has them hooked by a thread waiting to find out what the hell is going to happen next!
Whilst many elements of this novel were a favourite of mine there was one element in particular that I absolutely adored and that was the magic system, in particular, the mind brawl. This was such a fascinating and unique form of magic and I cannot wait to see more of it in the future books.
So, you are a mage, but not so proud that you don’t cleanse yourself; he said. ‘And you are tattooed, but not so deeply that you can’t use mages magic.
Another element I very much enjoyed within The Collarbound is the use of tattoos and how you learn that for a certain race of people within The Collarbound that there is a tradition behind there tattoos and I loved how the author explored this within a chapter of her book, it was so fascinating to read and an element I wish we saw more of in fantasy books.
From start to finish I was completely hooked by this book and by the end I was wholeheartedly attached to the characters.
The Collarbound is a dark fantasy that shows the struggle between power, greed and freedom and the lengths some people are willing to go for these. However, it is also a story that shows the importance of friendship, acceptance and kindness and how powerful and freeing these three elements can truly be. As well as these many elements, The Collarbound is a fantastic fantasy novel that has not only brilliant imaginative worlds but also an absolutely thrilling magic system that will keep its readers completely hooked until the very last page!
(Photo is my pwn please do not copy/take without permission first).
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