3 out of 4 stars
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Spear’s Sacrifice is the first book in the Spears of the Lel’ult fantasy fiction series written by A. A. MacConnell. It follows Azzah, a spearwoman, as she accompanies a young girl beyond the Arch, discovering the mastermind behind her greatest tragedy along the way.
Azzah and her spear-sister, Reem, are undefeatable. Tasked with guarding the home of their Lel’ul, Yazid, they serve loyally, spending their days honing their skills and taking pride in their strength as warriors. One terrible day changes that. An attack on Hirka leaves Azzah alone, causing her to roam the forest without a purpose. There she encounters Talei, an Unclean girl with silly stories about a world up north. Azzah’s people share an instilled dislike of the Unclean, so it is with great reluctance that Azzah warms up to Talei, becoming her protector and guide. Their journey to the Arch is rife with danger, even more so with the Cleansing taking place, a fatal purge of the Unclean. Azzah slowly comes to a realization as little truths about the attack on Hirka and Talei’s life come to light. She returns to Hirka to avenge Reem and her Lel’ul, even at the cost of her own life.
The best thing about this book was how beautifully it evoked emotions. Right from the start, the solidarity among the characters is potently evident in how they interacted with one another. The intimacy of the bond between spear-brethren is explicitly stated, then shown by way of Azzah’s emulation of Reem in the little things they do and how they moved in sync. Additionally, a ton of symbolism is used. One such instance is Azzah’s people’s belief that the dead must be buried in the morning and the proper rites followed – the procuring of a blanket and the placing of the warrior’s spear with him or her – and if not done, the dead person is at risk of becoming an evil spirit, not becoming an Ancestor with the others beyond the stars.
What I found most interesting was the prejudiced treatment of the Unclean. The Unclean are ostracized, seemingly only because of the markings on their skin. Even Azzah does not know why they are treated the way they are. It’s still a mystery as to why the divide between her people and theirs even came about. I hope more explanations and backstories are provided as to their origins with the continuation of the series. I can’t pinpoint anything I genuinely disliked about Spear’s Sacrifice except for how overconfident Azzah and Reem were in their skills, inevitably leading to their defeat.
Despite the positive things mentioned about this book, it unfortunately fell short with respect to its correctness of writing. I took note of many errors. Some sentences were rendered incomprehensible as a result of poor grammar and what appeared to be zero proofreading. These factors led me to assume that this book has not been professionally edited. I would also advise interested readers to watch out for a modicum of gore.
I loved this book. The only flaw was that Spear’s Sacrifice had several errors and requires some editing before it’s eligible for a perfect rating, justifying a removal of one star. As such, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy fantasy featuring warriors and adventure with some spiritual components. This novel doesn’t have profane or sexual content, but it does contain some gore and violence, so it is best suited to a mature audience. I do not think that those who prefer fantasy with magical elements would greatly enjoy this book.
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