Book Review: Claimed by Nicole Adamz

Claimed by Nicole AdamzTitle: Claimed

Author: Nicole Adamz

Publisher: Inkblot Publishing LLC

Publication date: January 31, 2020

Genre: Fantasy

Trigger Warning: rape

One Sentence Summary: Ari and Maewyn share a tentative friendship, but they serve different gods, which will inevitably turn them away from each other as war brews on the outskirts.

I’m not sure, exactly, what drew me to Claimed when Nicole Adamz contacted me, but something about it told me I couldn’t miss out on it. I loved the idea of winged people, gods, and Talents all swirling together to ends I couldn’t even imagine. Something pulled at me to read this one, and I’m so glad I did! I’ve learned I’m in the minority, but one of the two main characters is my clear favorite and I adored her so much.

In a Word: Incredible

Caelum have special Talents that add to the aesthetic of the city. They’re widely sought, and the rarer the better. Not everyone is Talented, and not all of the Talented are fully claimed by a god and bestowed as many privileges as possible for Caelum.

Maewyn is a Second Born, meaning her Talent is so rare it only happens once in a generation. She, however, is the second in her generation to have it, and her ambitious family will do everything in its power to utilize and exploit it without taking her into consideration. She’s on a short leash and beholden to them at any time they choose, and they expect her to do as they will. One misstep will spell disaster for her, no matter how much she longs to escape their thumb.

Ari is a hideous bi-colored woman with an unknown Talent after a botched awakening of her powers. As a Tyro, she is in training and is unable to speak. Since no one knows what her Talent is, she’s been placed as Maewyn’s Tyro to help the Caelum prepare for her performances and generally care for her. But Ari has a secret: she serves the True One instead of the usurper Aeolus and, if word gets out, it spells certain death. She’s desperate to figure out what her Talent is so she can become a Caelum and be able to better protect herself and other True One believers.

The two women share a friendship, but their different goals and beliefs threaten to tear them apart.

Claimed is an amazing and fascinating fantasy full of manipulation and societal intrigue that I can’t stop thinking about. I love court intrigue, but casting a wider net and turning it into a larger societal one is incredibly fascinating and I’ll not be looking for more of it instead of just court intrigue. I loved reading about all the machinations the lower families were doing in order to move up. All the scheming was a ton of fun to read about, all the manipulation had me twisting in knots. This novel speaks so much to class differences and just how difficult it is to move up in a world where people have wings. There’s a very clear class system that works well enough and religious suppression that just makes things more complicated. It could have become overly complicated and just too much, but Adamz wielded a deft hand and made it very enjoyable and not at all overwhelming.

It annoyed me a little, though, that women were treated more like tools and a means to an end. It’s reminiscent of rigid gender roles, but tied up in the hunger for power. But I loved how Maewyn and Ari, in their own ways, struggled and fought against it. Though set on different paths, both, as women, are perceived a certain way by men and find their own ways to fight. I loved watching them fight the constraints around them, almost like captured birds furiously, uselessly, flapping their wings.

Claimed presents a linear, excellently paced story that really packs it in. There are a lot of elements going on at the same time, each impacting another, but it never feels overwhelming. From the societal intrigue to the clash of religion to family secrets to brewing war with the Dwellers who live far down on the land, this story is bursting with a world that threatens to spill out into normal life, but only just manages to keep itself contained. While it does have it’s slower, quieter moments, my favorite part was the end when the story just exploded. Overall, this is an incredible first book in the series that promises even more.

From Friends to Enemies

Claimed presents the story of two women who have been thrown together, yet manage to develop a friendship and professional relationship that works. I was delighted by how well they played off each other, and how well their relationship disintegrated at just the right pace.

Maewyn has, undeniably, the most fascinating arc. She seems frivolous and almost vapid, constantly preening herself. But she carries a wealth of secrets and becomes more and more complex as the story unfolds and the reader is introduced to her family. She has a secret, quiet strength, but still manages to somehow feel helpless.

Ari’s story isn’t quite as interesting, but her character was the most interesting to me. As a Tyro she can’t speak, so she’s learned to be incredibly expressive. I loved everything about her and just how well she managed to communicate with everyone. Even though she didn’t speak, she still spoke volumes. She was so strong in my mind that, whenever I stopped reading I thought I couldn’t speak as well and was always confused about whether to answer someone or not. But Ari also has her secrets, ones that could condemn her to death, so she constantly walks a fine line.

A World of Wings

There’s a fascinating world to be explored in Claimed. Since people have wings, it’s set high up, above where the Dwellers live on the ground, with whom they have a tenuous trade agreement. At first, it was a little difficult to envision what it looks like as the layout seemed a little odd, but, as the characters moved around, the city became clearer, and I loved how it added another layer to how the society is structured. Overall, it’s an incredibly well-thought out world.

There are people with perfectly functional wings, and there are people called Anomalies who typically don’t have functional wings, and other deformities, and comprise the lowest class. It was fascinating to read about the clear class differences in how the city was structured to either include or exclude the Anomalies. Without functional wings, it’s impossible to fly.

I was also fascinated by the magic. It felt like the city and the people value artistic ability, and the Talents go in that direction. They seem to be primarily entertainers, but, other than being Talented and being possibly sought out for their abilities, they seem little different than anyone else. Still, I was fascinated by their abilities and reading about how the Tyros developed their Talents. They provide a lovely aesthetic to what feels like an already incredible and beautiful city.

Overall, this world is incredible and different. There are so many layers to it and how it operates and is structured. Every part of it works well together like a cog in a well-oiled wheel. I adored every aspect of it and can’t wait to explore more of it in the rest of the series.

The Start to an Incredible Series

Claimed is an exceptional start to the series. It both develops the characters and the world early on to serve as strong supports to the story of two women who were once friends, but whose different life demands and beliefs lead them away from each other. And there’s still more to it as gods are glimpsed and mortal and immortal unrest brews. Claimed beautifully sets up the overarching story and never gets lost in the little details than can so easily overtake a story of the magnitude it hints at being. A war between friends, gods, and sky and land dwellers, The Land of Schism promises to be an incredible epic fantasy.

Great if you’re looking for: epic fantasy, great character development, strong worldbuilding, winged characters, magic, societal intrigue

Not great if you’re looking for: court intrigue, romance, female friendships

How many cups of tea will you need?

5 cups

Get your copy (The Lily Cafe is NOT an Amazon affiliate)

Thank you to the author, Nicole Adamz, for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Head over to the Bookshelf to check out my reviews of books from the Big 5 and self-published, indie, and small press books.

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