Published by Harmony Ink Press on August 22nd 2017
Genres: Family, LGBTQ, Young Adult
Format: eBook, Paperback
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I voluntarily reviewed an advance review copy of this book I received for free from the author in exchange for my open and honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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.
The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember is the first book in her Ashes of Gold series. The book follows Tashi, a magical practitioner called an inhabitor who is bonded to a golden tiger called Katala. As Tashi is captured and forced to serve Xian, the commander of the invading regiment, Tashi is dragged through a pendulum of emotions as Tashi spies from the inside and fights from the outside through Katala. The more Tashi learns about Xian and the history behind the inhabitors powers the more things get complicated.
In the portions where dialogue and action were in the forefront of The Tiger’s Watch I found myself avidly reading. Xian is both brutal and driven, while also being compassionate to Tashi. Tashi’s tale gains complexity as actions taken through Katala affect the people in the camp, both friend and foe.
In the portions of The Tiger’s Watch that were more exposition, I struggled. There was too much telling that was unnecessary and I would have liked for it to be revealed through other means. Also, would have liked more backstory and world-building to help get into the story more as a reader.
I do appreciate the added aspect of Tashi being gender non-binary. As the main protagonist, I felt that once through the beginning exposition, the story improved as Tashi as a character began to flourish. Tashi’s dilemma in how to handle the revelations of the inhabitors powers, the relationship with Xian as well as another inhabitor, Pharo, who is dying because of his bond to an elderly wolf and the debate of what Tashi’s priorities should be made The Tiger’s Watch an interesting and enjoyable story.
Overall, I do recommend Tiger’s Watch as it left me interested and wanting to know more about what will happen to Tashi, Xian, Pharo and Katala.