This was an ok first book in a promising fantasy book series. The book is marketed as a “Fantasy Romance”, which is a new one for me.
Anure, a mad tyrant, has crushed every kingdom in the land. In exchange for its Queen agreeing to marry Anure, the island kingdom of Calanthe is spared. Queen Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free. Thus far she has played a good political game and kept Anure at bay, but time is running out. In her dreams, Euthalia sees a strong man who could make the world better, but she fears it may not be enough.
Conri is the former Crown Prince of Oriel. He was enslaved by Anure when his kingdom was destroyed and forced to work in the mines. He escapes with a few other slaves and builds an army to overthrow the emperor. A prophecy claims that he must obtain the Abiding Ring, currently on the finger of Euthalia, to succeed in his quest. When he and Euthalia eventually meet, sparks fly, but neither knows if they can trust the other.
Parts of this book frustrated me. It moved too slow, and didn’t provide enough world-building for me. Although Anure is the big bad in the book, almost no information is provided about him other than he kills with impunity and loves to destroy kingdoms. When Conri’s kingdom was conquered, he was enslaved and forced to work in the mines, but his parents and sister were killed. There is no explanation as to why he, and other noble children, were spared, while others were not. There are multiple holes in the world-building that I could list, but you get the idea.
I liked Conri and Euthalia, as well as several of the minor characters, although there isn’t much character development. The writing is not too sophisticated. At times I found myself almost rolling my eyes at the juvenile writing and story development, however it did get a bit better as it went on. The action in the story was uneven. The author takes forever building up to certain events, abruptly has the event occur, and then quickly moves on from the event. It’s jarring.
The author’s treatment of the romance aspect of the story also took me by surprise. The first 80% of the book was so tame that I thought that the book was a YA novel. Toward the end, however, the author goes into graphic details regarding sexual activity in the book. I have no issues with sexually graphic depictions, but it’s just another example of the unevenness of the writing and editing of the book.
Overall, I was interested enough in the story to read the next book, and hopefully the writing and editing will improve.