Review: Untethered Sky by Fonda Lee


Ester’s family was torn apart when a manticore killed her mother and baby brother, leaving her with nothing but her father’s painful silence and a single, overwhelming need to kill the monsters that took her family.

Ester’s path leads her to the King’s Royal Mews, where the giant rocs of legend are flown to hunt manticores by their brave and dedicated ruhkers. Paired with a fledgling roc named Zahra, Ester finds purpose and acclaim by devoting herself to a calling that demands absolute sacrifice and a creature that will never return her love. The terrifying partnership between woman and roc leads Ester not only on the empire’s most dangerous manticore hunt, but on a journey of perseverance and acceptance.


I received a physical copy of Untethered Sky by Fonda Lee as a part of a gift from one of my friends. I merely picked it up last night as it was the shortest book in the pile. After all it is Fonda Lee, one my favorite authors of all time and managed to finish reading it in one sitting. However, I must confess that this novella didn’t captivate me as much as Fonda Lee’s remarkable masterpiece, The Green Bone Saga, had done.

Although the premise was intriguing, I found ‘ruhking’ is just a glorified version of falconry. Going into the book, I assumed the characters were supposed to ride the rocs but that wasn’t the case at all. Nonetheless, the prose was exquisite, and the notion of granting a wild creature the freedom to roam was depicted in a truly splendid manner. However, despite the considerable timespan covered within the book, the brevity of this novella didn’t allow for substantial character growth or notable progression of the storyline. Although the story flowed nicely, there wasn’t anything significant that was awe inspiring.

The characters were well written. Ester, Namsin, Darius and Zhara (Ester’s roc) were great and would have made great characters in a high fantasy, not in a novella. I feel Fonda Lee’s greatest enemy in Untethered Sky was how short this novella was.

Overall, Untethered Sky is a short read that you can get through in one sitting as long as you don’t have high expectations.


The Book Cover

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