The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember
Published by: Harmony Ink Press
Date of Publication: August 22nd 2017
Genres: YA Fantasy/LGBTQIA+
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 is a diverse YA Fantasy centered around Tashi our gender fluid main character. Tashi is a inhabitor which by definition means you are bonded with an animal. This also means your life lines are linked & so when one dies, the other does too. Tashi is bonded to a golden tiger named Katala who if need be they can inhabit. As a soldier trained to be a spy, Tashi and their tiger are a team with Katala doing the killing. Tashi and her best friend Pharro who is also a inhabitor, are both sent away to hide in a monastery when their capital is brought down by an invading army. In this monastery, they are instructed to lay low and not call on their animals as it would call attention to their inhabitor identities. They are considered valuable in the inevitable war to come and so the monks try to keep them hidden. In the process of doing so, they only managed to call attention to Tashi & the invading armies’ commander Xian’s interest was instantly piqued. Xian makes Tashi his assistant of sorts providing Tashi the opportunity to spy on the enemy. The problem begins when there’s a spark of chemistry between Tashi & Xian that makes them question everything & ultimately leads them to make questionable decisions…
Tashi- Our Gender fluid MC takes some getting used to, I’m sure many will be annoyed with just how weak they are presented but it’s part of their story. Tashi was paired with the fiercest of animals at the age of 8, a hunter & killer who gets a thrill out of the chase. Tashi however, is the complete opposite and the very thought of killing literally upsets their stomach. I am hoping the sequel sees Tashi finding their strength & also recognizing how some of their decisions have hurt others. In this book we see Tashi make impulse decisions in hopes of changing a system they believe to be cruel. However, a ton of it came across as not well thought out & selfish. This character has a ton of growing pains ahead of them & I hope it’s evident in the next book.
Katala- Tashi’s golden tiger was one of my favorite characters in the entire book! I LOVED Katala! she is fierce, loyal, protective, and will NOT hesitate to get the job done even when Tashi is uncertain. As gruesome as some scenes would appear to be if you have a vivid imagination lol, I also found humor whenever Katala proudly killed an enemy soldier. Katala couldn’t contain her excitement at her achievements & as such would tap into her link with Tashi to show them the catch of the day, meanwhile Tashi doesn’t have the stomach for their Tiger’s appetite.
Pharro-Best friend to Tashi & at times the lines could get a bit blurred which means that yes a love triangle forms by the end of this story…sort of lol. Tashi has real feelings for Pharro, another inhabitor linked to an old wolf. Their relationship is complicated because Pharro knows that unlike Tashi who is bonded with a tiger with a long life span, he is bonded with a old wolf in his last days.
Xian-Commander of the invading army, at first comes off as ruthless and sadistic. He knows he can’t look weak in front of his army but he also has started to grow feelings for Tashi. I had some issues with this character who gave Tashi a sense of being owned, as if they were his possession. Tashi has formed a strange attraction to Xian and this leads to a ton of confusion on Tashi’s behalf. Xian is my least liked character, I just don’t trust him no matter what Tashi sees in him *shrugs*
When I first heard of The Tiger’s Watch featuring a gender fluid MC, I was a bit worried about whether it would deliver good representation but also excited. I then saw the author’s name & instantly recognized her from Twitter. No, I haven’t read anything from Julia Ember til’ now but that’s about to change. Tashi is a much needed addition to the Young Adult books we have on our shelves. The world Tashi lives in, their society is much more advanced than our own real life world. Tashi being gender fluid wasn’t completely out of the ordinary in their world & whenever someone called Tashi “he” or “she” whoever knew Tashi would immediately correct the person by letting them know the correct pronoun is “they”. I absolutely LOVED the story & bond our MC shares with their tiger Katala. It was made up of mutual respect & trust at it’s core with Katala expressing her independence. Their bond was never a master/owner type relationship which I appreciated. I did however wish to see expansion in world building & growth from Tashi. With this eGalley, the author also sent a excerpt to the next book which is already promising. So I guess you can say my chief complaint is that I’d like to see more haha! but The Tiger’s Watch is definitely a must read for my diverse book blogging friends 😉
*HUGE thanks to Julia Ember for providing me with a eGalley copy of The Tiger’s Watch in exchange for an honest review.
Hello Readers! yesterday was The Tiger’s Watch Book Birthday & I was so happy to see so many fellow book bloggers post their reviews <3! Please drop those links down below & I’ll swing by for a chat 🙂 & if you haven’t picked this one up yet, please do & then tell me how much you love Katala! haha!
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