An otherworldly adventure about remaining true to yourself, Charlotte Prebble
April 22, 2022
The Rarkyn’s Familiar by Nicky Lee is the first in a trilogy of YA fantasy novels. The story is set in the Illredan Empire, a place where Galdar (rune magic) determines one’s rank, and Aetherlings – creatures from the Otherworld – are sought after and expensive commodities for those of rank. To everyone else, Aetherlings are terrifying beasts.
The story starts with Lyss, a young woman bent on revenge after her father’s death. However, before she has a chance to achieve her goal, she accidentally gets trapped in a blood pact with a Rarkyn, a powerful and sentient Aetherling. Now she must journey to Illredus, the heart of the empire, to see if the pact can be broken.
If it isn’t, the Rarkyn’s magic will erode her mind and she’ll be pulled into the Otherworld, which is filled with burning Aether and deadly creatures. But there’s another catch; now that she’s bonded to the Rarkyn, everyone seems to want her dead. And they will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.
“At night the raiders come,
Screams cry ‘til day dawns,
By light light the raiders sleep,
The broken wails of Rarkyns morn.”
– Old Illredian Proverb, The Rarkyn’s Familiar
One of the main things I liked about The Rarkyn’s Familiar was the world it was set in. I found it to be cleverly created as well as fascinating. I also really liked the bits of history, back-story, and proverbs that were sprinkled in the start of some chapters, because it gave me a clearer picture of what was happening, and I could understand everyone’s motives and try and guess what was happening next.
Another thing I found extremely prominent and well done in the book was the character development. Behind the epic quests and extreme challenges Lyss faced, there is also a main theme of accepting yourself. Throughout her journey Lyss spends a lot of time trying to suppress a part of herself, and it’s not until the end that she realises that it shouldn’t be hidden and accepts herself as a whole. Though Lyss’ character has the most development, I found that all the characters, including the villains, have some kind of character growth.
The only thing I didn’t like was the description of the Otherworld. To me, it was extremely vague and confusing. It took me a while to get my head around the whole concept and form a clear picture of what it was and how it interacted with the main world. That said, once I got my head around the concept, I found that it was well created.
Overall, I loved The Rarkyn’s Familiar. The main moral that I took away from it was to love and accept yourself. I would say that it is a ‘must read’ for all teen fantasy lovers out there, especially fans of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.
Across the divide, the rarkyn led,
Asander and men to burrow deep.
Down, down to the Aethers heart,
To the den where the eternals sleep.
Hungry the ginndir hounded,
Picking of men and kin,
Until at last Asander beat the door, screaming:
Let me in, let me in, let me in!
– The Rarkyn’s Familiar, fragment from the The Epic of Asander
- Charlotte is 14 and lives in Lower Hutt.