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What: The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember

Who: Harmony Ink Press

When: August 22nd 2017

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Harmony Ink Press for review via Net Galley.

Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.

Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.

When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.

I really enjoyed The Tiger’s Watch. And here are four thoughts I had when reading it:

1) I wish it had been longer.

I actually enjoyed the tightness of the plot and storyline, but if it had been a little longer I feel like some of the characters, relationships, and world building would have been more fleshed out.

In regards to Tashi and Pharo’s relationship I think length would have benefitted that a lot, because I didn’t really feel the connection that Tashi said they had towards Pharo because Pharo wasn’t actually in the book that much.

2) Tashi is genderfluid.

That’s not really a thought, but I had to mention it because GENDERFLUID PROTAGONIST IN A YA FANTASY NOVEL OMG YES. There wasn’t a lot of exploration of Tashi’s gender, but in a way I kind of liked that? To try and explain: it was a story about Tashi, who was going through these intense things because of the war between their country and another, and they were also genderfluid. I’m definitely not saying that stories that focus on genderfluidity aren’t needed because they are, but the way The Tiger’s Watch didn’t solely revolve around Tashi’s queer identity is an equally important story to tell.

Also, the fact that almost everyone (except an asshole character) used Tashi’s they/them/their pronouns made my soul happy.

3) The magic was awesome.

These people mentally and physically link with animals when they’re eight years old and I love it. Like, it’s kind of sad because when the person or animal dies then the other pretty much does, too (after a long coma-type thing), but also ANIMAL SOULMATES.

I really liked the relationship between Tashi and their golden tiger, Katala. Again going back to my first point, a little more length to this book would have benefitted their relationship but it was definitely strong enough to have me invested throughout.

4) The love triangle was interesting.

It’s actually been a while since I read a book with a love triangle so it wasn’t as abhorrent as it could have been. Tashi kind of falls for their master, Xian, who is pretty darn evil. Sure, there were moments of kindness and vulnerability but I don’t think there was enough of him not being a torturous asshole for me to like him. I just needed Xian to be kind to someone other than Tashi because the fact that he was only kind to them didn’t tip the scales for me.

Pharo, who I mentioned in my first point, is Tashi’s other love interest. Even though I didn’t get to read about him as much as Xian I think I liked him better. He cared about Tashi and the other magic students, and wasn’t a torturous asshole so huge bonus point to him.

5) I really want to read the sequel.

I know I enjoyed the first book in a series when I want to read the sequel immediately, and I definitely felt that way about The Tiger’s Watch! I’m incredibly keen for the sequel, and I’ll be excited to see where the story goes after that big ending.

© 2017, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: war themes, murder, torture, friend in coma, absent parents, death via animal attack, animal death, physical assault, attempted murder, use of ableist language, misgendering, reference to severely ill mother, and depictions of gore in this novel

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Posted on: August 25, 2017 • By: Chiara

8 Responses to Five Thoughts on The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember

  1. The premise of this book sounds so wonderful — I adore the concept of animal soulmates, & HELL YES for a genderfluid MC! You know, it’s rather funny, I don’t think I’ve read any (or at least very many) love triangles in recent YA releases, so I am rather inclined to let this one slip through usually I rather despise them. The stellar queer fantasy rep is such a wonderful bonus, as well. I’ll be looking out for this lovely at the library when I go with my sister tomorrow — thank you so much for introducing it to me, friend! <3

    • Chiara says:

      The animal soulmates part was so lovely! I was less inclined to hate the love triangle because I do feel like they are less prominent than they were about five or so years ago. And it wasn’t too angsty, which was nice. I really hope you can read this one, lovely! <3

  2. Jackie B says:

    Yes! I want to read this book so badly. It’s really high on my want list! I completely agree with you that a genderfluid character where the focus isn’t on their genderfluidity is something we need more of. I wish books like this would get more publicity in the public eye. I’ve only heard of a handful of books featuring genderfluid MCs, and all of them come from book bloggers.

    I’m a little disappointed this is a series because now I’ll have to WAIT for the second book. I’m not good at waiting. ;)

    • Chiara says:

      Yay! I hope you read it soon, Jackie :D

      If you’re looking for another book with a genderfluid MC, then I highly suggest Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller. I absolutely ADORED it. I agree that we definitely need more, though. And it saddens me that these books aren’t getting as much publicity outside the book community.

      I am no good at waiting, either! But I couldn’t resist this book so I started another series because of it, haha.

  3. Yes so much agreement! I LOVED the setting and concepts and the animals were really interesting (omg I love animals) but I really was disappointed at the romance. I couldn’t understand how Tashi could be even remotely interested in that mega awful master?? He was like killing people and totally chill on it? TASHI, PLEASE RETHINK. I head the sequel has Pharo’s perspective though so I’m so excited!! I loved Pharo and want to know more!

    • Chiara says:

      I’m so happy you liked this one, Cait! :D Totally agree about the romance, though. Like I get the allure of the bad boy but he was so … not nice? He tortured people! And was cruel to everyone but Tashi, which is gross.

      I’m so keen for the second book! Although I am sad that it’s not from Tashi’s POV because I loved them!

  4. Jamie says:

    Wow I have never heard of this book nor this author. It sounds really interesting though! I haven’t read a Chinese fantasy romance since like forever! Will be sure to give this a try. :)

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