Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Serpent Gates #2

The Thousand Eyes

Rate this book
The sequel to A. K. Larkwood's stunning debut fantasy, The Unspoken Name, The Thousand Eyes continues The Serpent Gates series--perfect for fans of Jenn Lyons, Joe Abercrombie, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Two years ago, Csorwe and Shuthmili defied the wizard Belthandros Sethennai and stole his gauntlets. The gauntlets have made Shuthmili extraordinarily powerful, but they're beginning to take a sinister toll on her. She and Csorwe travel to a distant world to discover how to use the gauntlets safely, but when an old enemy arrives on the scene, Shuthmili finds herself torn between clinging to her humanity and embracing eldritch power.

Meanwhile, Tal Charossa returns to Tlaanthothe to find that Sethennai has gone missing. As well as being a wizard of unimaginable power, Sethennai is Tal's old boss and former lover, and Tal wants nothing to do with him. When a magical catastrophe befalls the city, Tal tries to run rather than face his past, but soon learns that something even worse may lurk in the future. Throughout the worlds of the Echo Maze, fragments of an undead goddess begin to awaken, and not all confrontations can be put off forever...

385 pages, Hardcover

First published February 15, 2022

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

A.K. Larkwood

3 books623 followers
A K Larkwood is a science fiction and fantasy writer and enthusiast. She studied English at St John's College, Cambridge. She has worked in higher education & media relations, and is now studying law. She lives in Oxford, England, with her wife and a cat.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
613 (41%)
4 stars
553 (37%)
3 stars
243 (16%)
2 stars
38 (2%)
1 star
22 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 301 reviews
Profile Image for Krystal.
1,447 reviews364 followers
March 29, 2022
This went all kinds of unexpected places and, like the first book, was a ton of fun.

Also glad the series is done in two books.

WARNING: This review may contain spoilers for the first book of the series.

This book picks up with Csorwe, Shuthmili and Tal doing their own thing after separating from Sethennai. However an expedition to a hidden temple brings all kinds of snake-y trouble and relationships are about to be seriously tested.

I really love this series for how unique and unpredictable it is. The world building is fascinating - even if it crumbled a little for me between books - and there are so many layers to the characters. There are different religions and gods are overwhelmingly present and causing mischief. The story travels such fantastic, unfamiliar paths.

There is a time jump in this book that slowed me down a little, as it was so completely unexpected. But ultimately I appreciated how much more depth came from the intervening time and it did really take the story somewhere I wasn't expecting. Things just started happening and kept on going and before long I couldn't help but be caught up in what was unfurling.

The relationships feel so very real but not so much that you lose a sense of wonder and a desire for them to grow a certain way. For example, I love the way Csorwe and Tal bicker and insult one another, but I still wanted for them to have that unbreakable friendship that is one of my favourite fantasy novel feels. Tal, in particular, was such a brilliant character. He had so many fantastic moments and was a big part in setting the tone of this series.

The writing is succinct and has a wonderful blend of cleverness, poetry and simplicity. The story never gets lost amongst pages of description, but the world still appears vibrant. I never felt like I was wading through pages to 'get to the good stuff'. Will definitely be keeping an eye out for whatever comes next from this author.

A fantastic conclusion to a well-written, unique fantasy series.

With thanks to Macmillan for a copy
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,046 reviews3,449 followers
April 21, 2022
As much as I loved The Unspoken Name, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this as a sequel. The world-building, filled with power-hungry, eldritch gods is fascinating, the ending is quite a ride, and the author creates some truly surprising twists.

On the other hand, this felt like quite a different book from Unspoken Name and wasn't entirely what I was hoping for. Csorwe and Shuthmili get a lot less page time than Tal and a new perspective character which was okay, but not my preference. And for spoilery reasons Csorwe is basically sidelined for an entire chunk of the book, which is unfortunate because she's definitely my favorite character. Part of the middle starts to drag and then out of nowhere we get this big time jump. And while I thought what the author ended up doing with that time jump, it took me awhile to get on board and I definitely didn't see it coming. Overall, there were some things I loved, and some things that for me were a bit disappointing. Thank you to Tor for sending a copy for review, all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for charlotte,.
3,129 reviews819 followers
February 10, 2022
On my blog.

Rep: lesbian mcs, gay mc, nonbinary character, bi character

Galley provided by publisher

The Thousand Eyes is a book I’ve been waiting years for and it did not disappoint in the slightest. I loved every part of rejoining Csorwe, Shuthmili and Tal as they wreaked havoc across the galaxy (okay, so maybe most of the havoc was done by a certain other character I shall not name, but it’s the thought that counts). It was such a fun, if at times slightly stressful, read.

We pick up the story two years after the end of the first book. Csorwe, Shuthmili and Tal are all in a kind of business together, where they help uncover various lost civilisations. This is how they end up releasing an ancient soldier from her destroyed homeland, and also how the plot as explained by the blurb unfolds. And then, about a third of the way in, it takes a sharp turn and, for the rest of the book, you’re left desperately clinging onto the edge of your seat.

The strengths of Larkwood’s writing are, to me, in the character work and worldbuilding. Each of the characters here is so strong that they leap off the page. Opening this book up, two years or so after reading the first, was honestly like greeting old friends, they felt so familiar and so vibrant. I know, based on the ending of this one, it may well be a duology only, but I would read innumerable books in this series for Csorwe, Tal, Shuthmili and Tsereg.

And then there’s the worldbuilding. These two books are fairly slow moving in terms of pace, in part because so much care and thought is dedicated to building the world the characters inhabit. Just as the characters seem real, so does the world. You almost feel as though you’re stood right there watching it all take place.

Lastly, the plot. What I liked about this book is that, put together with the first, you have a very satisfying arc for the characters. At the end of the first book, they leave Sethennai behind but really, that’s only physical. He’s such a part of their life, and has been for so long, that, even though they try, they can’t truly leave him behind. This is the book that gives them some closure on that, in that respect. And that’s what I loved most about it. It’s a book that’s thought through how it wants the characters to grow and develop, and there’s nothing greater than that.

So, really, if you haven’t picked this series up before now, I’m about to get on my knees and beg. I cannot put into words just how much you’re missing out in not doing so.
Profile Image for Charlotte Kersten.
Author 3 books433 followers
August 10, 2022
“They both deserved much more than they got. And we both got much more than we deserved.”

So What’s It About?

Two years ago, Csorwe and Shuthmili defied the wizard Belthandros Sethennai and stole his gauntlets. The gauntlets have made Shuthmili extraordinarily powerful, but they're beginning to take a sinister toll on her. She and Csorwe travel to a distant world to discover how to use the gauntlets safely, but when an old enemy arrives on the scene, Shuthmili finds herself torn between clinging to her humanity and embracing eldritch power.

Meanwhile, Tal Charossa returns to Tlaanthothe to find that Sethennai has gone missing. As well as being a wizard of unimaginable power, Sethennai is Tal's old boss and former lover, and Tal wants nothing to do with him. When a magical catastrophe befalls the city, Tal tries to run rather than face his past, but soon learns that something even worse may lurk in the future. Throughout the worlds of the Echo Maze, fragments of an undead goddess begin to awaken, and not all confrontations can be put off forever…

What I Thought

Back when I still gave book star ratings on Goodreads, I gave The Unspoken Name three stars, which I now find a little puzzling. My fondness for that book has definitely grown in hindsight, and this delightful conclusion to the duology definitely makes me feel even more affectionate towards what A.K. Larkwood has created here.

Simply put, these books are funny, creative, adventurous romps. Larkwood clearly has an incredible imagination and both books feature awesome elements of magic, fantastic settings and exciting “set pieces,” for lack of a better word. Here I loved the descriptions of the living forest and the Lignite Citadel just as much as I loved the vivid descriptions in the first book. Everything meant to be ancient and alien and esoteric truly feels that way, which I think is admirable.

Tal was also a standout part of reading The Unspoken Name - he’s a bitchy and hilarious mess of a person. Everything that I enjoyed about his character in the first book is expanded upon here, and he goes through some excellent development to overcome his relationship with Sethennai, find love and purpose, and bond with a child who is perhaps his only match in disastrousness and delightfulness. His burgeoning grudging care for Tsereg and eventual happy ending were probably my favorite parts of this book.

I was less fond of Csorwe in the first book, particularly in the context of her relationship with Shuthmili; I found her somewhat too passive and thought the build-up to the drastic choices that Cswore and Shuthmili made didn’t feel convincing enough. I’m wondering if I would feel the same way upon a reread or if some of these dynamics changed in The Thousand Eyes, because I enjoyed Csorwe’s part of the story and her love with Shuthmili much more this time around.

My only real critique is that it feels just a little ridiculous and repetitive that Shuthmili, Csorwe, Tsereg and Sethennai all

All in all, my appreciation for this duology has only grown with time. It’s a unique delight and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Profile Image for Silvia .
635 reviews1,402 followers
March 11, 2022

The Unspoken Name: fucking Tal (derogatory)
The Thousand Eyes: fucking Tal (affectionate)

TAL BOOK TAL BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Profile Image for Fiona.
1,220 reviews223 followers
May 13, 2022
At the last, all worlds fade
All strength fails, and nothing is to be saved.
Only I am without end, for desolation is my watchword.
Yet nothing is to be forgotten that belongs to me.
All things that are lost come into my keeping.
-from the litany of the Unspoken One

There is pretty much no way to really get into this book without throwing massive spoilers around - so I'll keep it general and brief.

A.K. Larkwood completely stunned me with this follow-up to The Unspoken Name - and yay for duologys, because waiting for a third book might just have done me in. I'm so attached to these characters, and I'm saying that about fewer and fewer books these days - but these are well-rounded, real-feeling people (of various fantasy races). The villains have good bits! The heroes have flaws! And not just for the sake of it, but ones that feel natural. I highlighted so much - especially Zinandour - that it made choosing a quote to start with almost impossible.

As far as the writing - stunning. It's easy to get lost in, straightfoward writing, but with a real ability to evoke a mind's eye picture. There are BOLD moves made with the story, ones that again, stunned me. They work, too, the experience of reading this duology has been just amazing.

This is not the world's most coherent review, what with the gushing and the talking around the spoilers that would really actually spoil things for potential readers. But if you've made it this far, you must be at least thinking about trying this book - and the only thing I need to say is do it! I really cannot wait to see what comes next from this author.
Profile Image for Katy.
645 reviews431 followers
November 23, 2021
The Thousand Eyes is the sequel to one of my favourite books of 2020, The Unspoken Name. I cannot express properly the joy I felt reading this book, I loved being back in the world with these characters. The character banter, the spooky worldbuilding, the magical stakes, the twists and turns, the sense of dysfuntional found family and camraderie is all so good and this sequel more than exceeded my expectations, I might even love it more than book 1!!

At the start of the book Csorwe, Shuthmilli and Tal are working odd jobs to try and make a living for themselves when they suddenly get dragged back into old mysteries with old and new enemies. When they accidentally release an ancient soldier who has been sleeping since the fall of her homeland, they are thrown back into a conflict that has lain dormant for thousands of years, with ancient gods on the rise and the threat of all they hold dear being destroyed.

The stakes are high in this book and there are so many plot twists and turns it will truly keep you on the edge of your seat. About a 1/3rd of the way into the book there is a big shift in the direction of the book and quite a big time jump, which I'm sometimes hesitant about but thought it was done so well here and added a lot of nuance to the story and time for tensions to brew.

Tal was one of my favourite things/people in book one, he is the loveable twat type character but with a lot of complexities and heart so I loved that he got more of a focus in this book. His arc throughout the book is excellent and seeing him grow and learn from his mistakes of the past and start to form geniune bonds with others. I also thought it really highlighted the importance of non romantic relationships and how important these can be. That said Tal is totally not over Belthandros and some of their interactions were so funny and the sexual tension is so palpable even though you really don't ship them lol - but I did like seeing Tal heal from what was clearly an abusive relationship and learn to stand up for himself!!

One trope I am an absolute SUCKER for is the grumpy older mentor and feral orphan mentee and this books absolutely delivers on this. It might even be my favourite depiciton of this trope of seen. Tal takes under his wing Tsereg - the latest unspoken bride who is on a mission to kill the god-empress and is an absolute non-binary icon and their dynamic is perfect!! Tsereg is such a fiery little force of personality whilst also being very vunerable and seeing Tal start to care and take on a parental role was so emotional and I loved it so much!! Also Tsereg teasing Tal about his age was so funny.

Csorwe and Tal are such siblings (while not being technically related - but they were brought up together so it counts lol) and I love their banter so much!! They are some of my favourite siblings in fiction and if you like messy sibling bonds with lots of trash talking and winding each other up whilst still deep down loving the other person I would highly reccomend this series!! Although due to certain events in the book we don't see a lot of them together I loved the moments we got!

I also absolutely adore Csorwe and Shuthmili - they are one of my fave fictional sapphic couples and I loved seeing them in an established relationship and all the domestic fluff. We get Shuthmili's POV in this book rather than Csorwe and we truly see how much she cares about her and the lengths she is willing to go to save Csorwe. It is a bit heartbreaking at times but also the angst and yearning are so satisfying to read.

Belthandros is also such an entertaining characater - everytime he is on page he steals the show but also you never know whether to love him or hate him T___T

I love the tone of humour the book has, especially in the interactions between characters - I was grinning so many times while reading. It is also really well paced and the author does a great job of maintaining tension throughout and building to an intense climax that will leave you breathless and a very satisfying ending.

In conclusion an unmissable sequel to a great fantasy series with amazing queer rep, an exciting story with just the right blend of intrigue, drama, romance, action, humour and emotional stakes. I honestly don't have a bad thing to say about it!!!
Profile Image for idiomatic.
492 reviews16 followers
January 29, 2022
the first was a 3.5 that i rounded up, this is a 3.5 that i'm rounding down, but both could really go either way. the pros: they're insanely readable, BIG SNAKES, great names, cool as hell map in the front, the author has so much fun writing tal, and it features two of my very favorite High Fantasy Sinister Adults (i would do anything for oranna). the cons: the plot is nonstop forgettable dnd macguffins, there's a plucky child in this one (rounding down on that alone, not sorry), and the two central girls are bland apart and together.

that last was my biggest problem with the previous - that the author had functionally reinvented the plot-following fantasy farmboy as a lesbian in csorwe, which, like, ok, fine, but it was boring the first time and does not get less boring as a wlw. this round the bland-girl pov is shuthmili, her repressed mage gf, and the 'ordinary' personality is rendered as 'i have to stay meek and mild or else i will unleash phenomenal cosmic destruction'. this is a little spicier but only like, a single crank of pepper on the porridge - the limits of her mildness/repression are never seriously pushed even when the plot goes full Evil AU. most importantly it highlights that the core romance, which becomes emotionally load-bearing, is comprised of two girls who are IDENTICALLY disposed to be polite in mixed company and unconcerned with their place in the cosmos even when offered high-stakes positions in it because at core neither wants all that much, which... is not an interesting romance. (also annoying and wasteful because larkwood writes fun, interesting gods!)

there is a glimmer of convincing lived-in gay tenderness at literally the very end but it has little to do with the characters themselves - the author can render the sweet mundanity of being in love with her wife irl (lovely!!) but not, like, how to write two convincingly interesting and readable women who then fall in love. and the author has so much fun with everyone else, the replaceability of csorwe & shuthmili stands apart - there is very little to differentiate their voice, they trade off the same plot, and the one moment that has a single zip of heat or emotional charge between them has,, a third party involved.

but none of these are new complaints and i got what i expected. perhaps in the future larkwood will work up to a book about middle-aged fantasy lesbians married from the jump, because i think she might be quite good at that. i hope there are big snakes in that one also.
Profile Image for Heather M.
203 reviews41 followers
February 17, 2022
i'm so frustrated when something i SHOULD love doesn't hit right. i respect that larkwood realized halfway through the duology that she's only interested in writing bad adults so she pivoted to basically turn everyone in the last book into bad adults. that's pretty baller. but the awkwardness of moving the characters to that point was, well, awkward, and boring, and i struggled to get into this book. and WHY do you make your whole series about bad adults and then saddle them with a kid.

things DID get pretty interesting though, and shuthmili became this super readable character who i wanted to lose my mind over, but larkwood never fully commits, as if she was afraid for shuthmili to become unlikeable or something.

"Clearly you and I were written in the stars.

The stars are insensible fires, said Zinandour. I chose you."

the POTENTIAL that this has. what's better than a bitchy god who lives inside you. what's better than when the bitchy god intended to sublimate you when she took over but can't help making out with your girlfriend. these were the only times i really FELT it for csorwe and shuthmili's romance and larkwood should've leaned into it, hard. the rest of the time, when they would flirt with each other or remember each other or think about each other hornily, it felt awkward and rushed past. as for Csorwe herself, it's hard not to compare this with the rush of blood to the head whenever Gideon surfaces in Harrow. it's an own goal to even attempt to do something similar. god bless.

i really like larkwood's approach to fantasy and godhood but i'll never understand her restraint when it comes to some characters vs others. i should be feral rn but i'm not.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Chrystopher’s Archive.
530 reviews32 followers
December 27, 2021
My yardstick for a good read will always and forever be the strong desire to lay on the floor and make dying whale noises of distressing volume after turning the last page, and we’ll, here I am.

Hot damn.

Larkwood kept the surprises coming with her unconventional approach to story structure, and I didn’t mind the multiple POV shifts as much this time, possibly because I understand now that Larwood’s definition of “main character” seems to be broader than mine.

I adored several of the new characters introduced, and I loved that Tal found love in an unexpected quarter. Found-family trope fans, this is a must for you.

I will say that I wish a larger portion of the book could have had all of our found family together, and like SERIOUSLY I would pay good money for one or three short stories set in the two years between the books. I understand why it had the happen the way it was written, but it did make certain sections between the 60-80% mark a little hard to slog through.

But then that last 20%… I just can’t even. So perfect and poignant and uuuuuhgghhgg *dying whale noises*
Profile Image for lauraღ.
1,481 reviews64 followers
November 19, 2022
It was possible to get so tired you no longer felt sleepy or so parched you no longer wanted water, and so too with isolation.

4.5 stars. I went on such a rollercoaster with this book, and I'm so thrilled that I ended up loving it as deeply and completely as I do. Many times, it seemed like the book was going down paths that I just didn't like, taking certain directions that I'm not sure I wanted, giving us certain perspectives that I felt like we didn't need. But it all came together in such a wonderful, breath-taking, intense way. This was so devastatingly creative, and the scope of it is so immense, maybe even too much for a duology, but I'm still so impressed with the story. And of course, even more than that, I just love all of these characters.  

I did find it a bit clumsy, the way the plot came together. The author had to bring a lot of disparate threads into one place, and it all happened very quickly, and without much fanfare. For example, the whole plotline with Cherenthisse was just so easily accepted by everyone, notwithstanding what she had done, and it was just kind of weird. A lot of huge events happen in quick succession, and then we had time skips, which I didn't really love. I probably should have expected it, given the trajectory of the first book, and in the end I did come to like the fact that we follow these characters over such a major time lapse, and it was needed for the story. But in the moment it just felt kind of clunky.  

But the world building remained really fascinating. I really love fantasy where gods are characters in their own right, and play a huge part in the motivations and lives of the characters. I'm thankful that I reread the first book in preparation for this, because it helped solidify a lot of the history of the world for me and the concept of the Maze and the Gates. I just love the interrogation of divinity, and the very different ways it works for different characters, what godhood looks like for different civilisations in different eras.  

“Forgive me,” she said. “But I will never leave you.”

And of course, the characters. This book incorporates one of my all-time favourite tropes, one of my favourite ways for characters to relate to one another. So even though I did spend some of it feeling a bit confused, I couldn't not love it. Shuthmili is my number one. I love her so much. Soft-spoken, sarcastic, stubborn, and filled with so much fervent love for Csorwe, written in such a compelling and believable way. I do think some of the emotional impact might have hit a bit harder if this had been stretched out into maybe three books, and we'd gotten to spend some more time with Shuthmili and Csorwe in the aftermath of the events of the first book. But then part of me also thinks that that might have dragged it out a bit too long, and perhaps it was right for the author to condense it like this. Either way, I just love the relationship so much, and when characters react to certain events like Shuthmili does, it's absolute catnip for me. Story spoilers ahead:

I also adored the character arc that Tal went through, and the fact that he was more of a POV character in this one. It was great seeing all the new and old characters that were introduced and reintroduced, the way that certain relationships were explored. There was so much good meaty character interaction in this, and I was obsessed. It's also mildly humorous in this subtle way that really worked for me. Tal is genuinely one of the funniest characters in the world, and I adore him. The writing seemed even sharper and more expressive than it was in the first book, and I just ate this up.  

Listened to the audiobook as read by Aysha Kala and I enjoyed it a lot. I have to say, I did like the narrator for the first book more, especially the voices that she did for Csorwe and Tal. I really noticed the difference with this new narrator; there wasn't as much expressiveness and depth. But after a while, I did get used to it, and since Shuthmili is such a major character in this book, it's nice to have a woman of colour narrating. This was just so emotionally and intellectually satisfying, for all the lizard parts of my brain that enjoy a specific type of romance. And the creativity and scale of this fantasy world is like nothing I've ever read before. I'd love to revisit this world in the future.

Content warnings:  

I am not anybody’s creature, said Shuthmili, with finality. I am not anybody’s but hers.
Profile Image for Fraser Simons.
Author 9 books243 followers
September 5, 2022
Maybe it’s down to the fact that I retained not much of what had happened, nor the emotion I had tied to the first book—but I failed to connect to this beyond thinking the worldbuilding and characters are a step above the typical modern fantasy I’ve attempted. I even read a chapter catch-up on the first book to see if that would help, which did prompt me to remember some of the beats that I particularly liked. I just couldn’t get invested this time around. Maybe some time in the future I’ll re read them back to back and see how they hit at that time.
Profile Image for emily.
584 reviews69 followers
June 9, 2022
Hum… 3.25 stars, I think?

As much as I enjoyed the first book, I found myself a little conflicted about this one. There were some things that I loved! But there were some other things that threw me a little. Nothing I outright hated though, so that’s good.

I think… my biggest problem here was that it felt a little like a different story in some ways than the first one. I enjoyed the beginning a lot and was excited about the direction it was going, then… big plot twist and time jump, and a lot more of other and newer characters perspectives for pretty much the whole middle chunk of the book. So… the first third and the last act I loved… the middle dragged, for me. In some ways I liked what was going on in the middle, don’t get me wrong, but it was really jarring at first, and much slower paced, and in a lot of ways I wished it had cut some of it and moved to the third act much sooner and spent more time, there. I was also… again, not totally annoyed,but, slightly bummed to have spent so much more time with Tal’s pov than I expected he’s fine but he’s not my fav. I fell in love with the first one because of Csorwe, and her arc with her upbringing and gods nonsense, and she’s not a pov character hardly at all in this one. Which is a bummer. I did love how much we got of Suthmilli’s pov and I think she might’ve ended up my fav, all things considered. I just… idk. It was good and ambitious but the middle dragged for me where it felt like it could have easily been condensed down a bit.
Profile Image for THE BIBLIOPHILE (Rituranjan).
530 reviews79 followers
February 22, 2022
A brilliant conclusion to the duology that teems with mystery, intriguing characters, and fascinating world-building. Larkwood definitely has written an entertaining novel here, and it is much better than the prequel. The story is a kind of quest, a quest for identity, a quest for the truth, in which all the characters has their respective roles to play. The story isn't heavy in action, but, it is deeply saturated in magic. The story as a whole relays the message of impermanence of power and glory, and how life unfolds through the passage of ruins.

The most attractive aspect of the book is worldbuilding and the mythos. Larkwood conjures up strange, beautiful, and eerie landscapes that tingles the imagination. I loved knowing the little revelations of the great serpent civilization and their imperialist past. It really gave me the epic vibes, with tragic undertones, where the burden of history emerges to repeat once again. I've one slight complaint, i.e, I would have liked to know the lore behind the shattering of the snake goddess, and what roles did the other gods play in shaping the world. I would also have liked to know more about the culture of Karsazh, which could've added a kind of interesting diversity to the overall tale

The characters are awesome. They're morally ambiguous at times, but also lovingly humane. The women duo of Csorwe and Stuthmili are lovely, and it is the relationship dynamics between them that's the heart of the story. Their love, trust for each other is so strong and beautiful. I also enjoyed the psychedelic banter between Stuthmili and her patron goddess. Belthandros is supposed to be the antagonist, but he's one hell of a grey character. He steals the spotlight whenever he appears in any scene in the story. Powerful, melancholic, and at times indifferent and cruel, he is the driving force of the events that occur. Besides him, Tsereg, Oranna, and Tal are the ones that brings the story alive. Tsereg is a kind of fireball who brings a sense of wild excitement and mischievous irreverence to the story, and his relationship with Tal, Oranna, and the others is amazing. There's a twist to his character, which I shall let the readers to discover themselves. And, Certhiinse, oh, burdened by loss, grief, and memory, I feel for her character.

The writing is crisp and the pacing, neither fast, nor slow, works excellently for the narrative that tells an epic story focusing on the characters and the events unfolding around them. The ending was poignant and poetic. This was undoubtedly one of the most fulfilling reading experiences I've had this year. I hope Larkwood comes up with more books in the future, as I'll be following her career as an author.
Profile Image for Bory.
190 reviews2 followers
February 27, 2022
2.5 stars.

I struggled with this book. In fact, I almost DNF'ed it on a couple of occasions, which is a shame because The Unspoken Name was one of the better books I read last year, and I was really looking forward to its sequel.

The Thousand Eyes ticks some major "no-no" boxes for me. I'm not a fan of large time slips even between books in a series, let alone in the span of the same book. And there is a major time skip at about a third of the way through the book. Whatever character growth occurs, you don't get to see. Whatever exciting events happen, you don't get to see. Maybe you get told about some of it, maybe you don't. It's simply not a story telling tool I appreciate.

Further, Csorwe, the main character of The Unspoken name, is done so dirty here I wanted to scream. For some 70-80% of the book, she is not even reduced to a secondary character. She is a narrative device. A non-entity. No, thank you.

The thing is, this is very much Tal and Shuthmili's book. I wouldn't have minded as much if Shuthmili hadn't been so miserable for the vast majority of it. Tal was fine. His flippant attitude and sarcastic wit are what kept me going for the most of it.

But, man, are the characters stupid at time. Over and over, we get told, and the characters agree, that Belthandros cannot be trusted, that he is only in it for himself, and yet no one takes precautions; no one makes up back up plans in case Belthandros betrays them for his own gain... okay, then.

Overall, the plot was... I don't want to say boring, but I found myself disinterested in it for most of the book. That we get told exciting things happened off page, without actually seeing them, did not help.

If there were a third book in the series, which I don't think there will be, I wouldn't read it. That being said, I did enjoy the Unspoken Name enough that, should A.K. Larkwood publish more in the future I would not hesitate to give the book a try.
Profile Image for Kat.
150 reviews216 followers
May 17, 2022
Grumpy loner men accidentally adopting a feral child is my favorite trope ever, and the fact Tal is said grumpy loner man makes this even better (Tal and Csorwe are my favorite characters in this series). I mean, just look at this fucking quote:

[Tsereg] grinned at him and swirled out again, and Tal thought it was strange that it had taken him so long in life to figure out what it was like to love another person, and how different it was than what he'd imagined.

Unreal. Just truly unreal.

Anyway, lovely conclusion, loved what we saw of Oranna and my lovely Zinandour (she was such a blast to read about, especially toward the end). Other than that one nitpick, though, this was a great conclusion to the characters' stories. As always, the world-building of this series remains my favorite part of it (especially the fucking ocean that is a forest with the fucking whales).
Profile Image for bri (hobbitslibrary).
245 reviews587 followers
March 3, 2022
Thank you SO MUCH to TOR for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Still in awe that you sent me one of my most anticipated books!

CW: blood, violence, gore, death, murder animal death, amputation (offscreen), implied autocannibalism, vomit, suicidal thoughts (brief)


This was an absolute roller-coaster of a novel. I had no idea what to expect, considering the first book ended up on a pretty wrapped-up note, but A.K. Larkwood delivered an incredible story, weaving new elements, characters, and plot points with those of the previous novel. This book makes a huge departure from the first story in terms of narrative style - the first mainly being a sort of coming-of-age adventure for Csorwe with a few other POVs - instead using a range of narrators and plot lines all tangling together and unveiling a much larger storyline.

This would've been an easy 5 star read, except that the first half of the book was really hard to get into and took me a considerable amount of time to read. So much so that I almost considered not finishing it. I think A.K. Larkwood struggles to start their books. They work so hard to keep it action-packed while infodumping and world-building and it just makes everything really muddy and confusing. Too often I felt like the words were just swimming on the page, or like I couldn't really tell what I was meant to be looking at or rooting for.

I also wish this book was more character-driven, because the characters are just SUCH a show-stopping element, but instead it's just too world-driven and sometimes I ended up feeling like I needed more. (TBH, I think I just need a novella filled with Tal and Csorwe banter.)

But the second half of A.K. Larkwood's books are always more than worth the trek through the literary sludge. Riveting action, packed with plot-twists, and told through the perspective of enrapturing characters, this series is one I'm undeniably obsessed with. If you like godpunk fantasy worlds, diverse and queer casts, fascinating religious systems, sapphic romances, and laugh-out-loud dialogue, I really can't recommend this series enough.
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,432 reviews543 followers
May 20, 2022
Years ago, Belthandros Sethannai rescued a young orc girl from being sacrificed to a nameless god. He trained Csorwe into an excellent fighter and then sent her off to break wards he couldn't touch. Csorwe succeeded after great personal suffering which didn't dim her loyalty to Belthandros in the slightest. For years she and Belthandros's other right hand Talasseres Charossa roamed the galaxy finding magical artifacts, spying, fighting, and doing whatever else Belthandros asked. And then Csorwe fell in love.

At the beginning of this book, Tal, Csorwe, and her super adorable sorceress girlfriend Shuthmili (who also expected to sacrifice her life to a god, and is in fact threatened with possession by that dark and horrifying dragon goddess every time she does magic) have gone into business for themselves. Unfortunately, what they hope is an antiquity-finding expedition turns instead into a fight between different aspects of the dread snake goddess Iriskavaal. And so only a few chapters in,

I super loved this book. The characters' personalities are so complex and well drawn. The sense of humor never takes away from the gravity of any scene, but did make me enjoy the characters all the more. The Unspoken Name is mostly about Csorwe; it was a delight to have a book that focused more on Shuthmili and Tal, who are fascinating characters in their own rights. The secret plots are complex but not unreasonably so, and the way different factions' plans accidentally work with and against each other is a wild ride. The various gods and the ways magic work are so weird and wild that I never got tired of them, and there are swordfights AND space ship battles! This is also a book that takes narrative risks, whether that be a main nonbinary character, a fifteen year time skip, or switching the main character between books. This is a delightfully audacious sff adventure.
Profile Image for Bookish Selkie.
403 reviews43 followers
February 15, 2022
The Thousand Eyes is an extremely strong and compelling sequel. In some ways, I actually preferred it over The Unspoken Name. The Serpent’s Gate duology deals with a complex, at times convoluted, cast of characters and world-building rules. With all of this established in The Unspoken Name, The Thousand Eyes felt free to soar.

A.K. Larkwood’s writing style is very witty, crafting lightning-quick remarks and jokes that you’ll miss if you blink. The characters remain lovable as ever, with Tal fighting his demons and Cswore and Shuthmili fighting for their love. Along with these familiar characters, Tsreg is a fantastic new addition to the quest to save the world. I loved the queer found family!!

One of my favorite things about this duology is the intricately crafted mythology. However, the gods are fickle and they can never be trusted. From Iriskavaal to The Unspoken One, there is a wide range of rich storytelling to discover. Tal and Shuthmili were two of my favorite characters. However, A.K. Larkwood’s writing is such that even when you loathe the characters and their choices, there is something fascinating about them.

The Serpent’s Gate duology is filled with morally gray characters, queer found family, and rich high fantasy world-building. I would recommend this duology for fans of Tamysn Muir and Jenn Lyons. Since The Thousand Eyes concludes The Serpent’s Gate duology for now, I can’t wait to see what A.K. Larkwood writes next! Thank you so much to A.K. Larkwood, Macmillan-Tor/Forge, and Netgalley for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for myfriendsarefantasy.
70 reviews12 followers
January 26, 2022
This was a phenomenal sequel and conclusion to The Serpent Gates. I can’t stop thinking about it. It was full of suspense, with so many twists, turns, time jumps .. I didn’t breathe for about 60% of it. There is a feeling of darkness, decay, mystery and deceit throughout and it really left me on edge while reading.

It begins with Tal, Csorwe and Shuthmilli working together on odd jobs to make some money. During one of the jobs they end up being part of releasing a new enemy, which subsequently leads to more enemies, old and new, and a fight for a better life and love.

I felt complete despair during parts of the book because I felt so connected to the characters and what they were going through. Are Csorwe and Shuthmilli one of my favourite sapphic relationships? Absolutely! The lengths they go to for each other and the love they have is so emotive; I love them.

It is told from multiple POV and you get to know Tal a lot more, who I really liked. There is still the same banter between characters followed on from the first book which makes it really enjoyable. Tal has a lot of character development and his relationship with Tsereg, the young mage, is completely heart warming.

It was a really satisfying conclusion to the book, though I would still love to read more set within this world. Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for sending me an e-arc.
Profile Image for Andrew Jaden.
89 reviews
April 5, 2022
I liked this book a lot, but compared to The Unspoken Name, I feel it's a little lacking in direction plot-wise, especially after about halfway through the book. There are certain plot lines I think would have suited a third book much better; including them in here just made it feel rushed.

Aside from that, I genuinely think the character writing has gone up a notch - Tal has gone from an annoying little shithead to a hilarious little shithead, and really, every other character in this book seems to have some amount of sass, in a good way.

Thematically, the concept of divine beings descending into mortal existence only to be enabled by them in the worst way possible, not unlike a freshman who's realized that they're old enough to party and drink themselves into brain-melting hangovers has me cackling; more of this in SF/F please! I also really liked the way each major character is depicted with some amount of nuance, which basically amounts to 'relationships are messy, we change with time and the only way to truly be happy is to learn to adapt and change without forgetting what matters'.

It's not a perfect book, but I definitely have had no regrets picking it up.
Profile Image for Rach A..
310 reviews134 followers
July 3, 2022
I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the sequel to one of my favourite fantasy books ever, but this totally took me by surprise in the best way! It brought my favourite elements of the first book, added some excellent new characters and topped it off with some godly destruction.

This book retains the feel of a video game I loved so much from the first one: the worldbuilding is so expansive, and there is always such an ease too to, it never feels too complex. The dialogue and prose are filled with so much banter and snark, it brings me so much joy, I absolutely love this style of writing in SFF, there is just such a relaxed *fun* about it all.

But the star of this book, as the first book, is of course the characters. They are incredible. They remain some of my favourite characters in fantasy, with the new addition of Tsereg who was absolutely wonderful! They’re relationship with Tal is an absolute highlight of my entire reading year so far.

So yes, fabulously fun sequel!!

Content warnings: mentions of torture, death, snakes, murder, blood and gore, violence, brief mention of self-cannibalism
Profile Image for Chessa.
720 reviews58 followers
January 12, 2022
*cries* It’s so good, and such a satisfying conclusion to the series! Just like The Unspoken Name, the story meanders in a way that’s hard to describe - every time I try, it sounds like I’m saying it’s boring or unskillful, but it’s not! It’s just….meandering, unspooling. You have to have a go-with-the-flow mindset about it - but you’ll be rewarded for hanging in there. Larkwood does some really interesting things that surprised me, which is not always an easy thing to do. Such a rich, interesting fantasy world - I have so many questions (The Maze! The gates! The gods!) - I kind of hope that maybe Larkwood will write more in the same universe (but with a different set of characters - leave these babies alone, please, thanks).
Profile Image for Ying.
320 reviews5 followers
April 6, 2022
What an amazing end to this duology. Well.. I assume it's a duology! If there's more I won't complain.

I think one of my favourite themes are books that span DECADES. I enjoyed reading books like Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Why not a fantasy series that spans decades?

I never would have guessed the directions this series went in. In this book so much lore was expanded upon from the last book, but not in a way that I felt that it was reaching.

This series was fantastic and would recommend for fans of epic fantasies with complex plots about warring religions and gods. What's not to love?!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for IsagelCharles.
85 reviews
July 10, 2022
I loved this book SO MUCH! On a pure, devastating id level, Tal Charossa is one of my favourite characters of anything ever, and my only complaint about this book is that apparently it’s the last of the series and won’t get to read fifteen more books about him.
Profile Image for Heather-Lin.
1,044 reviews38 followers
January 15, 2023
This duology is IMPRESSIVE! I want more more more from this author.


GR Personal Rating System:
★★★★★ 5 Stars ~ LOVED
★★★★☆ 4 Stars ~ ENJOYED
★★★☆☆ 3 Stars ~ LIKED
★★☆☆☆ 2 Stars ~ MEH
★☆☆☆☆ 1 Star ~ NOPE
Profile Image for Marzie.
1,128 reviews91 followers
February 25, 2022
A beautiful ending to this duology. I just couldn’t finish right away because I didn’t want to let go of this world. I look forward to whatever Larkwood writes next.
Profile Image for Faith Erin Hicks.
Author 37 books1,449 followers
March 24, 2023
An absolute banger. I thought the first book in this duology was pretty good, but I was not prepared for the conclusion, which I really loved. Much less complicated worldbuilding and more focus on the squad of gay disaster characters, who are all lovable in their own unique way. The story wrapped up perfectly, but I'm sad I won't see these folk again, I really enjoyed reading their adventures.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 301 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.