The Gilded Ones (Deathless, #1)

by Namina Forna

3.7 of 5 stars 5 ratings • 2 reviews • 58 shelved
Book cover for The Gilded Ones

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The Gilded Ones (Deathless, #1)

by Namina Forna

3.7 of 5 stars 5 ratings • 2 reviews • 58 shelved

“Namina Forna Could Be The Toni Morrison Of YA Fantasy.” –Refinery 29 

“Fans of Children of Blood and Bone, Mulan, and the Dora Milaje from Black Panther are going to adore this one.” BuzzFeed

"A dark feminist tale spun with blood and gold. Must read!" Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles

The most anticipated fantasy of 2021. In this world, girls are outcasts by blood and warriors by choice. Get ready for battle. 

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire's greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she's ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

The start of a bold and immersive fantasy series for fans of Children of Blood and Bone and Black Panther
  • ISBN10 1984848690
  • ISBN13 9781984848697
  • Publish Date 9 February 2021 (first published 3 February 2021)
  • Publish Status Active
  • Publish Country US
  • Imprint Delacorte Press
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 432
  • Language English


Avatar for pinkadot89

Angie 3.5 of 5 stars

Proceed With Caution:

This book contains very graphic, disturbing violence, torture, death, mentions of rape, and lots of blood.

The Basics:

The Gilded Ones is the start of a new YA Fantasy series about a girl named Deka who has always been on the outside of her village. After the purity ritual proves that she's a demon, she's put to death. Except that Deka can't die, and is ultimately recruited into the emperor's army with more girls just like her.

My Thoughts:

The Gilded Ones was something else. And I mean that in a mostly good way. It was not what I was expecting at all. The first few chapters are disturbing. Deka is constantly reciting passages from the Infinite Wisdoms which is this world's sacred text, and it basically says that if her blood runs gold she's impure and must be put to death. She's understandably very worried about this, and rightfully so, since as we know, her blood is gold. Upon this discovery, she is killed NINE TIMES and dismembered countless times so the priests can sell her blood. I was shocked.

I was surprised that The Gilded Ones actually goes there. The author did not shy away from what Deka's village does to her after confirming that her blood is gold rather than red. They don't just say she must die. They actually kill her in a variety of ways to find her "final death." Surprise, she doesn't have one! Which made it that much more disturbing, because they just keep trying. Even after she's "rescued" and taken to the training grounds, the girls aren't treated like human soldiers. It's pretty sickening to read at times. If you're sensitive to this kind of thing, perhaps skip this book.

The Gilded Ones has a pretty involved and interesting plot. Deka and other girls who have been labeled as impure for their golden blood are being trained to kill Deathshrieks, monsters who kill humans. Deka is part of a special regiment since she has more abilities than is usual, but of course it's not quite what it seems. The more Deka trains and the more she skills, the more she realizes that things just don't add up. Are Deathshrieks actually the monsters here? Is Deka actually a demon? What is even going on?! I had to know the truth, which slowly builds up.

The world-building of The Gilded Ones was weak though which kept me from loving it. While we get plenty of verses from the Infinite Wisdoms, we don't really get much else. We know that the area is split into four (North, South, East, and West of course) and who lives where, but not what anything looks like. It was all very generic with the pale blond people in the North where it's cold, the dark people in the South where it's hot, more white people in the West, and possibly Asian-like people in the East. Everyone hates Deka because she's a dark person in the North, and someone actually calls her skin dirty. This is just lazy world-building.

Overall, I did enjoy The Gilded Ones. It was much heavier than I anticipated but it had a pretty cool premise and plot. The ending is wrapped up quite nicely, but still open enough for there to be more books. I'll definitely be continuing to see what comes next for Deka and the other girls.

Avatar for quirkycat

Quirky Cat 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of The Gilded Ones in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Gilded Ones is the first in Namina Forna's Deathless series. A series about empowerment and determination, against all odds – and against those who would strike them down.

Deka has spent the last sixteen years waiting – and dreading – this day. The day her blood is tested, and the day she's accepted as a member of her village. Or not, as she will be worst than an outcast if her blood doesn't run red.

Deka's life changes forever on that day, as her blood runs gold. However, it doesn't end. It cannot end. Here she is granted a choice, fight for the emperor with girls like her, or stay here and face a slow, agonizing death. It's really no choice at all.

“Are we girls or are we demons?”

Wow. If you're looking for a novel that will make you feel every possible emotion out there, then you're going to want to pick up The Gilded Ones. Deka's journey is powerful and painful, as she learns to fight all the lessons that have been buried deep into her mind since the day she was born.

Her journey is a beautiful one, but it is also dark. She faces many challenges, and some of them are going to make this a difficult book to read for some. I know that personally, I couldn't read this book in one sitting (my preferred reading method, as I have no self-control). It's simply too heavy for that.

The Gilded Ones features a lot of graphic content, from the damage and pain that Deka takes, to the way society treats Deka and girls like her. It's raw and painful to read about, especially because it's so painfully easy to imagine being true.

Still, that element makes the conclusion, and Deka's change over the course of this novel, all the more impressive. All the more powerful. It's impossible not to cheer for her, and hope that there is something on the horizon. Not just for her, but for all the Gilded Ones.

“Never forget: the same gift they praise you for now they will kill you for later.”

The Gilded Ones is absolutely the heaviest YA novel I've read, and probably will read, this year. I also think it's one of the more important ones, as the impact cannot be avoided. I'm already looking forward to seeing how Deka's journey continues over the course of the next two novels, and can't wait for news on their release dates.

Check out more reviewers over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks