Release Date: December 11, 2012
(Thanks to ATWT for allowing me to participate on this tour!)
Published by: Razorbill
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:
Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.
Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.
Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.
Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...
The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
This book and I did not get along. It's pitched for fans of George R. Martin and Kristin Cashore. I did not see a single element of Kristin Cashore in this book. A watered down version of George R. Martin was there too. I would not suggest you read this review if you are a fan of this book.
Before I rant, I would like to celebrate the good elements. It was fast-paced and full of action. I take issue with almost everything else--the characters, the writing, the world, the romance, etc. etc.
- The Writing. Cliched and emotionless -- that's how it felt to me. Flashing eyes and lots of modern thoughts and phrases that made me doubt the historical feel to the world. Maybe it's a matter of writing style / reader incompatibility, I don't know.
- The Romance. Insta-love? I don't even know how to describe this. Cleo realizes how attractive her personal guard is in one moment, and the next she suddenly cares what he thinks--though make no mistake, Cleo is a girl who always gets what she wants and acts accordingly, even when she thinks Theon will be angry with her--and is also in love with him. Magnus is in love with Lucia - incest starting to become a YA trope now, isn't it? - and Aron and Nic may be in love with Cleo and Emilia in love with a dead guard and on and on.... Like a teenage soap opera, and I didn't believe in any of it.
- The Characters. What makes the Game of Thrones successful is that you can't help but care about the characters even when you're told not to 'cause they could die at any moment. When characters died here, I didn't care one whit. Cleo's a spoiled brat who makes a huge mistake in the beginning and "feels bad" about it. She cries and throws a tantrum when her father denies her something because of the political consequences of her mistake. Oh, and don't forget, she's unbelievably beautiful so plenty of men are in love with her, and she doesn't realize and/or exploits it. And of course her sister Emilia advises her to tell their father that she'll commit suicide if she doesn't want to marry a spoiled lord, because that's what Emilia did, you know, because she was in love with someone else and "dying for love" and all. Lucia just does whatever her father tells her to do even though he's been keeping secrets from her and has harmed Magnus, who she claims to care about, and though he is freaking known as the King of Blood. How she still trusts him, I don't know. Is she that sheltered and unwilling to look beyond the walls of her room? She seems really ignorant and naive and dependent. Magnus? Sometimes I wanted to like him, because he's going through this play between trying to please his father and what his conscience tells him to do... but he's also vicious and cruel, and I didn't feel like I knew enough of his personality to find the good there. I understand that this was all probably meant to be a way of showing that there are no hard lines between evil and good... but every character felt one dimensional to me so that didn't work. The only one I did like was Jonas, and that was because he was the only one who seemed to think and realize what was going to happen next, though he too had some pretty bad qualities. Also King of Blood? Why not call him the Mad King and call it a day?
- World-building. It has the fantasy cliches like magic long forgotten and a prophecy about it coming back etc. etc.. And since I didn't feel the stakes for the characters, I definitely didn't feel the stakes of the world, and what would happen if so and so was the one who got the power and met the Kindred and whatnot.
The only reason this book was not a DNF for me was because I wanted to see if my predictions came true. And they did. In case you think I've been too harsh... Here's a review on goodreads that sums up the way I felt about the book (specifically the characters). And another that has more examples for you re: the writing.