Book Review: Absolution by Anna Tan

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Want to know if Absolution by Anna Tan is worth the read? Here’s my full review to help you decide

Absolution Info

Author: Anna Tan

Published: 24 November 2022

Publisher: Teaspoon Publishing

Rating: 3/5

Where to buy Absolution

Kinokuniya | Teaspoon | Shopee

Absolution Summary

If cursed is the hand that kills, then it wouldn’t matter if that same hand stole, would it?

Tulen feels doubly cursed, forced to serve the bratty princess of Impian as punishment for her crimes. When said princess embarks on a pilgrimage, Tulen grabs her only chance to offer a sacrifice at the holy city of Suci—and maybe, finally, feel clean again.

Sultan Mikal has set his face towards Suci—and certain death. Nothing about his Penance is clear, except the fact that if he fails, Terang will fall along with him.

When Tulen’s pilgrimage intersects with Sultan Mikal’s quest to fulfil the Covenant of Salt, Tulen faces a difficult dilemma: What is her absolution worth in the face of the sultanate’s very existence?

Absolution Review

Absolution by Anna Tan is the last book in the Amok trilogy and in this review I will discuss my thoughts on Absolution first and then move on to talk about the trilogy as a whole.

I really wanted to like Absolution and at first, the book looked promising.

With the first two books, Amok and The Tale of The Hostage Prince, my biggest issue was having to read about a very reactive main character instead of a proactive one. 

And in Absolution we finally have a proactive character where the plot is affected by Tulen’s choices. 

Tulen is the main character of Absolution by the way.

Because if I have to read about ANOTHER reactive character within the same universe, I will honestly lose it. 

I will go BANANAS.

So, seeing Tulen make her own decisions and the plot aligns itself to follow said decision was very refreshing. Tulen as a main character in Absolution was okay for me. I didn’t hate her and neither did I love her characterization. 

There was not a lot of characters in Absolution that stands out to me at least not in a positive way, most of them were alright and serviceable as side characters.

Characters that I hated though is a different story, I truly hated the Princess that Tulen has to work for after she was caught stealing a purse from a noblewoman at the market.

The Princess was such an annoying character, I truly could not understand why she was so bratty and here I thought Mikal was bratty, the Princess whose named I forgot because she was that annoying was even brattier.

Which brings me to the qualms I have for this book.

Absolution doesn’t give me enough background stories or exposition for the emotional plots to hit home. I say this because as I said previously, I hated the Princess because she is bratty but it is never explained why she is the way she is. 

It is never explained why she could be so vindictive or selfish or self-absorbed. 

Thus, without enough data to explain why the Princess is the way she is, her character comes off as a caricature instead of an actual character that has depth and nuance within them.

Another example is Tulen’s guilt over the death of her beloved younger brother. She blames herself for his death and at first I understood but as the plot moved along. I slowly began to not understand the depth of Tulen’s guilt and by God this girl kept going on and on and on about her guilt it was aggravating.

It is aggravating because I wished the author showed us why the guilt was so felt so intensely by Tulen. 

We were never shown the close bond the siblings had with each other. All we had was what was said by Tulen and it is boring because I want to be shown their tight bond and not just Tulen SAYING they were close.

As they say show don’t tell.

Had the author gave more scenes depicting their life before and after they were orphaned would have made Tulen’s grief and guilt have more impact.

At least for me lah. 

Before people come and attack me, yes I understand Tulen feels guilty because she feels she was the perpetrator of her brother’s death but having more scenes depicting their relationship before his untimely death would compound on the grief Tulen feels.

The biggest problem I have with Absolution is the how the Covenant of Salt was written in this book.

Mind you, I have been reading about the sanctity and the importance of the Covenant of Salt since the first book, Amok.

So, I assumed and envisioned it to be this perilous journey that the Sultan must partake for the sake of his country.

Imagine my absolute disappointment when its just a bunch of (I’m truly sorry to the author for saying this but somebody has to say it) stupid tasks that Tulen and Mikal have to do.

With the first task, if I remember correctly, the duo are lead to a maze and they have to find a way out. After thinking about it logically they figured out that they need to listen to Kudus and forgo the logical way of thinking.

I can accept this, how it was written was very anticlimactic and lame but I still can accept it because it is in line with Abrahamaic religions where you listen to the One God of which I assume the religion in this world is based on.

What I cannot accept is the next task, I can’t exactly remember the order of the tasks but the duo has to heal sick people using the power of Kudus.

And basically they become Jesus.

They just go out to town and heal people left right and centre and then we get a side character criticising them that they only heal wealthy citizens and not focusing on the destitute and poverty stricken citizens.

I thought this was a good plot point and was hoping it would lead to something more but no it just ends there. No mention of this again in the book which again annoyed me because why include it if you’re not going to elaborate.

It annoys me because I feel like the author wants to make Absolution have more depth and nuance to it but by suddenly including this criticism from a side character out of nowhere and not elaborating on it or showing that this critique will be taken seriously, it just makes the plot even more nonsensical.

After they heal everybody, then out of nowhere again Tulen and Mikal have to marry.


That’s not even the worse part suddenly Mikal and Tulen say they care and love each other.

I am here completely flabbergasted because whilst yes, there were times where there was some romantic tension between the two, IT WASN’T ENOUGH TO WARRANT A FULLY FLEDGED DECLARATION OF LOVE.


You’re telling me this Covenant of Salt that was talked about since book 1 whereby it was said that it was so intense it could be life threatening was over just by Tulen and Mikal doing some obscenely lame tasks.

And now the book is over and everybody gets a happily ever after? What the??!?!!!

ISTG, I truly believed I got a defect book because I refused to believe that was it? That was the ending? I am being pranked right? Right???

Suffice to say, the latter half of Absolution had some pacing issues as everything was condensed a bit too much and not all of them were explained properly.

The speed in which the duo completed the tasks for the Covenant of Salt made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal and it was easy to get it over with.

Which belittles the emphasis that was placed on the importance of the Covenant of Salt not only in the earlier chapters of Absolution but also in previous books.

In terms of the trilogy as a whole, the plot was okay I suppose, It’s not my cup of tea but I can see why some readers will enjoy it

Will I reread this trilogy again in the future? Probably not.

Disclaimer: Absolution was provided by the publisher in return for an honest review

More books by Anna Tan

If you like this review, here are other reviews to enjoy

Book Review: The Tale of The Hostage Prince by Anna Tan

Book Review: Yesterday by Felicia Yap

Book Review: House of Koi by Lilian Li

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