I have Fonda Lee’s Jade City on my shelves and I want to read it badly. But I somehow haven’t picked it up yet. When I came across the eARC for Untethered Sky I immediately wanted to read it. And I picked it up right away. I also have to mention this is a Tordotcom novella, stories I usually love! Today I have my review for you, so let’s dive in.
From World Fantasy Award-winning author Fonda Lee comes Untethered Sky, an epic fantasy fable about the pursuit of obsession at all costs.
Ester’s family was torn apart when a manticore killed her mother and baby brother, leaving her with nothing but her father’s painful silence and a single, overwhelming need to kill the monsters that took her family.
Ester’s path leads her to the King’s Royal Mews, where the giant rocs of legend are flown to hunt manticores by their brave and dedicated ruhkers. Paired with a fledgling roc named Zahra, Ester finds purpose and acclaim by devoting herself to a calling that demands absolute sacrifice and a creature that will never return her love. The terrifying partnership between woman and roc leads Ester not only on the empire’s most dangerous manticore hunt, but on a journey of perseverance and acceptance.
Untethered Sky by Fonda Lee
Published by Tordotcom on 11/04/2023
Wow! I keep being amazed by novellas (and they’re almost always tordotcom ones!). This story is only 160 pages long but it contains a full story. I hadn’t read anything by Fonda Lee yet but I’m definitely even more excited to start reading her Green Bone Saga series.
This novella is tagged as High Fantasy and Epic Fantasy but I want to share my thoughts on that. While the world is made up and there are animals that are mythological, the rocs and manticores, there isn’t any magic or anything like that. Apart from the mythological creatures this could be just another medieval story.
At the same time, those rocs and manticores are at the core of the story. We follow Ester from childhood to adulthood. Her childhood is traumatised by a manticore attack and that makes her want to be a rukher. Rukhers are hunter who work closely with rocs, enormous birds who are predators with manticores as their natural prey. After the trauma in her childhood we see Ester becoming a rukher. She gets her own roc, Zahra. And I loved loved loved their bond.
I think all the scenes were Ester and Zahra were training were my favorites. It really reminded me off the bond I have with my horse and I loved how it was written. Even in longer novels you usually don’t get the focus on that human-animal bond and all of that training. It was never dull or boring and I would’ve loved more of it.
Another thing I really enjoyed were the friendships in the story. We get to see Ester’s friendship with Darius and with Nasmin and I loved the two different types of friendships. And we also get to see those friendships develop over time. Like I mentioned, we get to see Ester throughout a big part of her life but I didn’t feel like I missed anything. In just a 160 pages Fonda Lee gave us a look into Ester’s life and it felt like in the end I knew everything.
The ending was very surprising to me, even though there were little hints throughout the story. Those little hints also made me want to continue reading and find out what exactly happened. I did like the ending a lot and definitely shed some tears haha. This is a novella I would highly recommend! Hopefully I can share my thoughts on another Fonda Lee book soon.