The Saturday Reading List: The Untold Tale

The Untold Tale (Book One of The Accidental Turn Series) by J.M. Frey 

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The Stats:

  • Publication Date: December 8, 2015
  • Fiction, fantasy, feminist fantasy, adventure
  • 4/5
  • Warning: Okay, basically, if you can’t handle some cursing, sexuality themes, and calling out of patriarchal B.S. You probably shouldn’t read if you can’t handle that.

From Amazon:

“Forsyth Turn is not a hero. Lordling of Turn Hall and Lysse Chipping, yes. Spymaster for the king, certainly. But hero? That’s his older brother’s job, and Kintyre Turn is nothing if not legendary. However, when a raid on the kingdom’s worst criminal results in the rescue of a bafflingly blunt woman, oddly named and even more oddly mannered, Forsyth finds his quaint, sedentary life is turned on its head. Dragged reluctantly into a quest he never expected, and fighting villains that even his brother has never managed to best, Forsyth is forced to confront his own self-shame and the demons that come with always being second-best. And, more than that, when he finally realizes where Lucy came from and why she’s here, he’ll be forced to question not only his place in the world, but the very meaning of his own existence. Smartly crafted, The Untold Tale gives agency to the unlikeliest of heroes: the silenced, the marginalized, and the overlooked. It asks what it really means to be a fan when the worlds you love don’t resemble the world you live in, celebrates the power of the written word, challenges tropes, and shows us what happens when someone stands up and refuses to remain a secondary character in their own life.”

Zo’s Review:

I love fantasy stories. I love adventure and magic. I hate the over used damsel in distress who-is-only-a-plot-point-and-exists-as-a-trophy media trope. I mean, it’s 2015 and we act like the same old tropes from when before women or people of color could vote aren’t in need of serious updates. But you’re here to read a book review, not what should have been my thesis for my Gender and Sexuality minor.

So when I first started reading The Untold Tale I wasn’t sure what to expect. My biggest fear, knowing that many other reviewers have called it a feminist book, was that it was going to unnecessarily hit me over the head with feminist preaching. Though there were definitely very open feminist moments, it was well written, well timed, and well said. Did it cover every aspect of the feminist spectrum? No, but covering everything is honestly a lot to expect for one book to do and the fact that  The Untold Tale is part of a series means more opportunities to cover areas that weren’t part of this book. I did really like that Pip – the main (and only) female of color character dragged from the real world to another world based on the books that she grew up reading – did bring up the representation of people of color in fantasy genre/media in general.

“Ah, yes; pirates and savages, harems and harlots,” Pip mutters bitterly. “Spice merchants with pet sandworms. All exotic others, and never the hero, eh?” – Pip,  The Untold Tale

(I literally clapped at that, which is kind of sad because it shouldn’t be that profound but sadly it is.)

Though Pip is definitely the realistic, feminist voice in the story, the main narrator of the book is Forsyth Turn, who is known to the outside world as a side character in his famous hero brother’s story. There have been so many times where I’ve read a book told from the perspective of one character and wished that I was reading about the perspective of a much more interesting side character. If the Tales of Kintyre Turn – the book that is within the book, The Untold Tale; yeah, I know pretty meta – were actual books, I would bet that this would be a prime example. It’s kind of weird knowing that Forsyth is only just a side-character in his brother’s, Kintyre, story because from right off the back you see that he has his own life that doesn’t circle solely around his brother and he’s not just sitting on his hands until his brother arrives in the room. He’s actually a pretty awesome spymaster for the king called the Shadow Hand – something that Forsyth works hard to keep secret. Despite a super awesome second job, Forsyth still sees himself as the inadequate younger brother to Kintyre. By having Forsyth be the main narrator, not only does the reader sees his response to Pip’s “strange” beliefs but we also see his growth as a character too.

I really just enjoyed all the elements of The Untold Tale even how Frey was also able to weave in some good and some not so good aspects of what it means to be a fan of a series as well as the idea of a non-traditional hero. It was really refreshing to read a book that tackled elements of sexism, racism, and a variety of other elements that apparently are too “taboo” to really address or even acknowledge. Also, the characters are really great. I loved Pip and Forsyth and many of the other characters. If you want a book that pokes at some issues of the fantasy genre but in a way that still makes you love the main characters and their character development then I really encourage you to read The Untold Tale.

I received a copy of this book from the NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

What do you all think? Have you read The Untold Tale already? Have any other book suggestions that I should add to my Saturday Reading List? Leave your thoughts behind in the comments. Just be respectful please.

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