36103121A face without a face – an unmasking that leaves the mask.

Once every few hundred years the sun god, the Akhen, takes on human form and descends to earth. Each Unmasking of the Face of the Akhen ends one era and begins another; the last one created the Faustian Empire. Where and when will the Face next appear, and who will he – or she – be?

Dayraven, son of a great hero, returns to Faustia after years as a hostage of their rivals, the Magians. Those years have changed him, but Faustia has changed as well; the emperor Calvo now seems eccentric and is controlled by one of Dayraven’s old enemies. Following the brutal murder of his old teacher, Dayraven is drawn, together with a female warrior named Sunniva, into the search for an ancient secret that would change the fate of empires.

The Hidden Face is an epic fantasy novel drenched in the atmosphere of the early Middle Ages and in Kabbalistic riddles and is the first book in the Fifth Unmasking series.

Source Format Pages Publisher Genre Publication Date
Author eARC 350 The Hive Fantasy November 25th, 2017

*Many thanks to S. C. Flynn for providing me with a copy of the ARC in exchange for an honest review* 

I don’t think I’ve ever read a fantasy quite like The Hidden Face before. The plot in this book reminded me of Uncharted (ye-haaay! look at me pulling a gaming reference), except the end result of connecting all of the clues and finding the ‘big prize’ doesn’t result in a big payout and Pina Coladas on a Carribean beach. Finding the big prize aka who and where The Face is, is a matter of life and death for all countries in the world Flynn has created. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a heroic quest at hand!

Dayraven has been a hostage for 15 years and when he returns to his home country, the emperor is no longer the man he once knew. The emperor is now seemingly in constant brain fog, blundering countries for riches and not at all bothered about the impending Fifth Unmasking. Dayraven will not be left to enjoy being back on home soil for long though as he is immediately pushed on said quest to retrieve a scroll that holds a great secret. The great secret is not the answer to all and everything, it is only the beginning of a perilous journey for Dayraven and Sunniva.

It is nothing to do with fate pushing a male and a female together on the quest- the two are meant to be on this journey together, so when Sunniva and Dayraven start piecing together each clue as they get closer and closer to the Face, it appears that there are others who are after it for very selfish reasons and they are quite dangerous indeed.

The Unmasking is an interesting concept. Every few hundred years the Unmasking of the Face happens. This event moves the political power from one country to another. What a wonderful idea… If only we could make it work in our reality as well… that should keep things balanced, nay? But of course, it’s never just that simple. There are always some who believe they should have the power over everyone else. Because, high horses and self-entitlements!

The Hidden Face is a plot-driven title and even though I prefer my books to be character-driven, I must admit, I was quite hooked on each and every new clue our main characters discovered whilst battling the bad guys in the race of ‘who get’s there first‘.

Throughout the story, our couple finds themselves in all sorts of situations- escaping the baddies, camping, bathing in the river, solving clues with their combined knowledge. Can’t really blame them for developing a bit of a spark… but it doesn’t come easy! *zips lips, so you can find out for yourself*

Besides Dayraven and Sunniva, a few more characters have a strong presence. For example, there’s Dagon. He’s the baddest of them all and a beekeeper. Nope, I’m not kidding. He has a shedload of bees and he uses them, but not for honey harvest!

Then, there’s Malombra. When I think of her only two words come to my mind- femme fatale. Really. I never thought I’d be able to use this description. Ever. But there we go.. she’s quite possibly a bit deluded but also done over in the past and one’s heart does go out to her for what she’s been through… However, lady needs to dial down on the plant potions a bit. Also, in the modern day setting she would probably be one of those Beverly Hills/Orange County housewives too taken with their appearance and thinking their punanny holds all the powers!

And the Twister! The humpbacked, bastard son of an emperor who seriously got a bad hand dealt to him. I wasn’t entirely sure if I was afraid of him or if I felt pity. Maybe a bit of both. He’s one of those characters that begs to be approached with caution because truly, he remained unpredictable to me throughout. I was expecting horrible, horrible things from him… and… *zips mouth*

Overall, I would say, this was an enjoyable read. Even though my usual character-driven (the tortured hero searching for the meaning of life) plot wasn’t the core in this book, I was still quite engrossed in the adventure. The start of the book delivered quite a few flashbacks from both Dayraven and Sunniva but these had purpose vital for connecting the dots and as such can’t be labelled as infodumps.

What can I say? It’s quite an interesting start to the trilogy- the stage has been set, characters introduced and backstories explained. I expect a rather interesting sequel!

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