Josh Martin: Ariadnis


I received a free digital copy of this book from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Back then I thought that if it weren’t for that cliff, our cities would be one and there would be no need for all this fierceness toward each other. But then I learned about pride and tradition and prophecy, and those things are harder than rock.

Joomia and Aula are Chosen. They will never be normal. They can never be free.

On the last island on Erthe, Chosen Ones are destined to enter Ariadnis on the day they turn eighteen. There, they must undertake a mysterious and deadly challenge. For Joomia and Aula, this means competing against each other, to end the war that has seethed between their cities for nine generations.

As the day draws nearer, all thoughts are on the trial ahead. There’s no space for friendship. No time for love. However much the girls might crave them.

But how you prepare for a task you know nothing certain about? Nothing, except that you must win, at whatever cost, or lose everything.

Ariadnis is a young adult, fantasy set in the future on planet Earth – now Erthe. The world has been devastated by a comet and two people had taken it upon themselves to unite those that remain on the last island. But, as to be expected, these people are split; we have the city of Athenas that still adheres to the idea that industrialization is the key to survival, whilst those in the city of Metis believe in living alongside nature, building their houses within the trees. Aula (Or-la) and Joomia are the ninth Chosen Ones, destined by a prophecy to unite these two cities together whilst also competing against each other to win the position as the Chosen One – there can only be one. In a world still divided, Aula and Joomia must put their differences aside and work out how to bring these two differing cities together, using the knowledge they have learned and garnered from the previous Chosen Ones to impart wisdom on those around them.

This novel was sent to me as an eBook proof from Netgalley, a novel that really drew me in through the concept, as well as the cover art. I, like many other people, am guilty of judging a book by its cover and Ariadnis is no exception! The concept of the novel is one that I haven’t come across before and Martin uses this setting and the narrative plot to talk about environment, wisdom, and women as key players within the fantasy genre.

Aula and Joomia are from their respective cities and possess traits reflective of those environments; Aula, from Athenas the industrial city, possesses a strength that surpasses anyone else. She is able to bring buildings crumbling to the ground, pull doors right off their hinges, and send people flying with a simple punch. Aula possess a headstrong yet caring nature. Joomia, on the other hand, is of the city of Metis and is reflective of this environmental city in her ability to connect with the trees and shape them to her will. She is at one with nature and is quiet in nature, unable to speak so communicating through the mind to a select few. Martin uses Aula and Joomia to show how to completely different people, based on their environmental factors, can work together and use their respective skills for the greater good.

In regards to the novel itself and the writing, I found that the pacing at the beginning of the novel was slow-building which, initially, made it hard to fully grasp the world around the characters and understand the events taking place. However, as the novel progressed and the scenes began to hold more significance in the narrative moving forward, the pace began to pick up and everything slotted into place. I can see how the world Martin built can be hard to describe quite vividly and believe that there may have been some loose connection between thought-processes and words on paper but, ultimately, it did come across well. I enjoyed the ways in which the characters themselves connected and the differing personalities they brought to the novel. They didn’t adhere to typical stereotypes of female characters in fantasy novels, in fact, Martin subverts these at times with Taurus (a male character working alongside Aula and Joomia) becoming the “damsel” in distress resulting in Aula being the hero that gets him out of danger. It was quite humorous in this respect through the way these two characters interacted at this moment, but I appreciated this change in character tropes and believe that it is one we need to see more often.

Martin doesn’t provide all the information needed at once, adding a sense of mystery to the prophecy put upon the girls causing you to think about the choices that they are making and how they can unite their two cities. The way that Martin rounded up the story was flawless and I couldn’t find any hiccups in the transformation of these two characters who develop from each other as the novel progresses. It is a novel I would recommend to anyone looking for strong, female leads that questions the concept of power, knowledge, and wisdom and the differences between the three.


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