Category: Fantasy

The Labyrinthine Journey by Luciana Cavallaro

(Cover picture courtesy of the author.)

Follow Evan as he continues his odyssey as Servant of the Gods in The Labyrinthine Journey. The quest to locate the sacred object adds pressure to the uneasy alliance between Evan and the Atlanteans. His inability to accept the world he’s in, and his constant battle with Zeus, both threaten to derail the expedition and his life.

Traversing the mountainous terrain of the Peloponnese and Corinthian Gulf to the centre of the spiritual world, Evan meets with Pythia, Oracle of Delphi. Her cryptic prophecy reveals much more than he expected; something that changes his concept of the ancient world and his former way of life.

Will Evan and his friends succeed in their quest to find the relics and stop the advent of Christianity?

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

After the cliffhanger of the first book, I was very excited to get an email from Luciana asking if I’d like to read and review the second book.  Although I was worried that since two years had passed it would be hard to get into the second book without reading the first one again.

However, I didn’t need to worry at all.  There’s a nice amount of exposition in the first few chapters that catches the reader up quickly and relatively unobtrusively.  We get re-introduced to our cast of characters including Evan, the High Priestess, Hektor, Homer and Phameas.  We also re-hash just enough of the plot of the first book to remember that Evan and his crew are on a mission to save the Greek gods from oblivion and have found one of apparently two objects that will accomplish this.

The Labyrinthine Journey is a fast-paced romp through the ancient Greek world as Evan (called Evandros in this time) and his crew search for the second piece of the puzzle.  Of course, things aren’t always so simple and as they find out on their journeys, they truly need three artefacts and thus the title The Labyrinthine Journey is completely justified.  They have to journey across Greece to consult the Pythia at Delphi and then the real journey begins when they learn the second artefact is on the island of Thira (or Thera, modern Santorini) in the ruins left by the massive volcanic eruption years ago.  And that’s not even the hardest part.  Because where the Greek gods are concerned, absolutely nothing is simple.

The relationships we saw in the first book have changed slightly as Evan adjusts to his new life as Evandros.  He still hates Hektor’s guts but Homer, Dexion and Leander attempt to keep things from getting violent between the two.  Alexina, the High Priestess is both more familiar and more enigmatic as we discover the full extent of her powers the Mother Goddess has granted her now that she’s in possession of the golden serpent.  And the growing romance between Alexina and Leander is subtle but sweet.  What intrigued me was that although we saw a little more of Melaina, Kronos’ daughter, her motives are still as mysterious as they were in the first book.  On one hand, her father is Kronos but on the other hand, there seems to be a bit of an attraction to Evandros at play and she does seem to want to help him.  However, the gods and the titans are not always straightforward.  While I can guess at her motivations, it should be fascinating to see what side she’s truly on in the third book.  That’s part of what I like about all of Luciana Cavallaro’s writing, from her short stories to this full-length series: she is truly good at creating ambiguous characters (which comes in handy where the Greek gods are concerned).  And no matter whether a character is mostly good or mostly bad, they are always interesting.

What I really appreciated (other than the amazing character-building) was the amount of research that went into The Labyrinthine Journey.  Not only about the big events going on in the Greek world at the time (the revolt of the Messenians, democracy in Athens, etc.), but the little details like all of the temples and statues being painted in bright colours.  We’re used to seeing the beautiful white marble statues and remains of temples and great buildings but ancient Greece, like the rest of the ancient Mediterranean was colourful and vibrant.  And where history and myth are silent, Cavallaro makes up something new that is also entirely believable like the Amazons on their far-flung island.  It fits seamlessly into the greater stories that make up what we know today under the umbrella term of ‘Greek myth’.

If you loved Search for the Golden Serpent, you will enjoy The Labyrinthine Journey as much as I did.  It’s a great sequel that definitely doesn’t suffer from the plot bloat that most second books do.  So go ahead and buy it!  You won’t regret it.

And if you haven’t read the first book but figure the story sounds interesting, I highly recommend trying out Search for the Golden Serpent.  If you love Greek myth and/or historical fantasy, you will love it.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

The New York Times bestselling series that inspired the international hit video game: The Witcher.
For over a century, humans, dwarves, gnomes, and elves have lived together in relative peace. But times have changed, the uneasy peace is over, and now the races are fighting once again. The only good elf, it seems, is a dead elf.

Geralt of Rivia, the cunning assassin known as The Witcher, has been waiting for the birth of a prophesied child. This child has the power to change the world – for good, or for evil.

As the threat of war hangs over the land and the child is hunted for her extraordinary powers, it will become Geralt’s responsibility to protect them all – and the Witcher never accepts defeat.

The Witcher returns in this sequel to The Last Wish, as the inhabitants of his world become embroiled in a state of total war.

I actually played the video game Witcher 3: Wild Hunt before I even thought about picking up the novels that inspired the award-winning video games.  When I fell in love with the game and its rich mythology, political intrigue and vibrant characters I had to have more of Geralt and his world.  So I decided to give Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels a try.  Given my recent rash of disappointing reads, I was absolutely thrilled when it turned out that Blood of Elves completely exceeded my expectations.

Here in Blood of Elves, we have a fantasy world that is both familiar and alien to most North American readers.  There are witches, wizards, dryads and other such creatures while at the same time there are unique creatures Sapkowski has created like witchers (obviously) and aeschnas (aeschnae?).  At the same time, he has put a spin on old fantasy creatures like elves, dwarves, dryads and werewolves.  It’s a wonderful blend of the familiar and the strange and it makes me happy to see that there’s a lot of potential exploration of other fantasy creatures in the rest of the series.  In addition to the wonderful creatures Sapkowski has created, the world-building allows for quite a lot of intrigue and conflict.  On one hand, you have the expanding Nilfgaardian empire under the lead of Emperor Emhyr var Emreis.  On the other hand, you have the fractured Northern Realms that include kingdoms like Temeria, Kaedwen, Redania, Cintra and Aedirn.  Each country has its own unique leader, culture and history and while the main focus of the story is on Ciri and Geralt, it’s fascinating to catch glimpses of the vast world Sapkowski has built.

As for the characters, I was pleasantly surprised.  While Andrzej Sapkowski has a pared-down writing style that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to much description, all of the characters in the novel were well fleshed-out.  Geralt is of course fascinating because although he’s supposed to be this cold-blooded monster killer for hire, you can tell he cares about people deeply.  Ciri herself is wonderful and I loved seeing her interactions with Triss and, later in the novel, Yennefer.  She’s rough and tough being raised as a witcher at Kaer Morhen but at the same time, she’s vulnerable when it comes to the changes every girl goes through during puberty.  She really reminds me of myself at the same age so I do admit to having quite a bit of a soft spot for her.  Seeing her interactions with Triss who becomes a mentor and a big sister to her was really touching in contrast to Yennefer’s loving yet slightly cold relationship with her.

Although Blood of Elves is slightly under 400 pages long, you will hardly notice the length once you get going.  The aforementioned pared-down writing style really does move the action along quite quickly and the first chapter has you hitting the ground running so to speak.  However, Sapkowski does have enough description and backstory that you’ll quickly catch on like I did, whether or not you’ve read The Last Wish (I still haven’t) before beginning the main series.  I don’t speak Polish so I can’t speak to the faithfulness of the translation, but I can say that it was fairly well translated because the story flowed well and the style was consistent throughout the novel.

If you’re looking for a slightly different fantasy with some great characters, pick up Blood of Elves.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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Omega by Lizzy Ford

(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

In a modern world ruled by territorial Greek gods, the human race has been oppressed, exploited and now, nearly destroyed by the constant infighting of gods.

However, a human girl with the power of a goddess is coming of age. Alessandra is the Oracle of Delphi – the last prophesized – and bears the mark of the double omega. Soon after she turns eighteen, Alessandra is told her destiny: to step between the warring gods and the human race and save her world from certain ruin.

For the gods, her appearance marks the beginning of the end – their end. They and the Triumvirate – leaders of the human elite – who serve them will stop at nothing to preserve their power.

Alessandra emerges from the forest where she spent her life hidden from gods and men and immediately plummets into a race against time, gods, and herself to discover who and what she is in a world where everyone she meets has a hidden agenda, and those pulling the strings remain in the shadows.

Before she can determine exactly what kind of savior her world needs, she must first master her power by completing three trials devised by the Triumvirate to enslave her.

One lone girl stands between warring gods and the people she’s destined to protect, but it’s the battle to understand who she is that she must win first.

[Full disclosure: I received a free paperback from the publisher at Book Expo America 2015 in exchange for an honest review.]

So I’m a little late reviewing this one but I guess it’s better late than never!

When I started Omega I didn’t quite know what to think about it.  The info-dump in the beginning led to more questions than answers but not necessarily in a good way.  Instead of my overriding feeling after the info-dump being excited curiosity it was more confusion than anything else.  Why does Alessandra (called Lyssa) live in a school in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of gorgeous girls she calls nymphs?  Why do the priests want to contain her within some weird sort of red rope?  Why does her guardian Herakles seem to want to make her into a crazy survivor-type person?  And, most interesting of all, why is she only allowed to date a boy that can beat her in a race and out-solve her when it comes to puzzles?  These questions do eventually all get answered and not necessarily in a boring way but my overriding feeling coming out of this novel was a solid ‘meh’.

I tried to like Lyssa as a protagonist; I really did.  Unfortunately, she just doesn’t seem all that relateable to me.  She stays in extremely dangerous situations to merely satisfying her curiosity.  Believe me when I say I can understand living with an insatiable curiosity but I just felt like her staying behind with Adonis when she knows he’s the ruthless head of the secret police with a secret agenda is just suicidal.  Worst of all, when she is deemd the heir to the current Oracle she stays in her palace, even knowing the absolutely horrific fate of Oracles who pass the three tests.  Yes, Lizzy Ford tried to justify this decision within the narrative but I still feel like it was unrealistic.  If you’re a tough-as-nails survivor-type person, you’re probably not going to stick around when you learn that the politicians, priests and gods have quite literally a fate worse than death in store for you.  Especially when in Adonis/Mismatch you have an easy way to escape.  Like I said, I just can’t relate to that line of thinking and Lyssa isn’t characterized well enough to really feel like her choices are even justified within the plot.

What I found interesting was the portrayals of the Greek gods in Omega.  I’m a huge Greek mythology fan so seeing them portrayed as ridiculously ruthless and self-interested was nice.  It’s certainly how they come across in pretty much all of the myths I’ve read.  My only quibble is that even though it appears Lizzy Ford knows her Greek literature and mythology, there was a quote from the movie Troy actually attributed to Homer.  I’m not making this up.  At the beginning of Chapter 23 the quote underneath says “…any moment may be our last.  Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed.  You will never be lovelier than you are now.  We will never be here again“.  I have read the entire Iliad front-to-back over ten times in two different translations and Achilles absolutely never says that.  He especially doesn’t say that to Briseis because anyone who has actually read the Iliad would know that Briseis has no speaking role; she’s just a toy for Agamemnon and Achilles to fight over, a symbol of kingly status.  So that was quite a jarring error that didn’t exactly help my overall enjoyment of the book.

The plot should have been interesting.  It certainly had all of the elements that I like: an unique dystopia, Greek gods, political intrigue, lies, etc.  However, I just couldn’t find it in me to care all that much about the book.  It’s not a terrible book despite all of my criticism but it’s definitely not a great book.  The series certainly has potential and I wouldn’t be averse to picking up the second book because the plot twist at the end was actually quite good.  And as the book went on, it seemed like the characters got a little better and the writing was just a higher quality overall.  Omega just wasn’t the book for me it seems.  Apparently if I can’t relate to the main characters at all, my enjoyment of the book as a whole takes a nosedive.

I can’t honestly recommend Omega but I really wouldn’t discourage anyone else from giving it a try.  Maybe you’ll like it more than I did.  I personally find Diantha Jones’ Oracle of Delphi to be a much more interesting Oracle story than this one.

I give this book 2/5 stars.

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Song of the Storm Dragon by Marc Secchia

(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

The Storm is coming! The hegemony of Sylakia has been broken and freedom won, but at a shattering cost. Laid low by the vile Shapeshifter pox and Thoralian’s wiles, can Aranya rise again? For war sweeps Herimor at the touch of the Marshal’s evil claws, and he will stop at nothing to possess the ultimate power.

Now, the race is on to find the First Egg of the Ancient Dragons. Accompanied by her friends Zuziana and Ardan, and the magnificent Land Dragon Leandrial, the Star Dragoness must dive deep in her new quest. Cross the uncrossable Rift-Storm to Herimor. Stop Thoralian. Crush his ambitions. Only then will she be able to save her beloved Dragons.

Yet profound Dragon lore enshrouds her purposes. History beckons. What are the secrets of the powerful Dragonfriend and the tiny, lost Pygmy Dragoness? Why did the Dragons disappear? What became of the powerful Dragons of yore?

Arise, o Storm Dragoness! She is legend. She is the whisper of starlight upon Dragon scales. She is Aranya, and this is her song. The Song of the Storm Dragon.

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

So not only do we finally get a glimpse of the mysterious Rift in the southern Island World, we get to see Herimor.  If you’ve read the past two books in the Shapeshifter Dragon series, you know that Herimor is populated by Chameleon Shapeshifters and assassinations with various creative poisons are just a fact of life amongst the upper class.  It sounds pretty terrifying and strange but as we learn, it’s not all bad.  And not all of the Marshals are as bad as their reputations.

What I liked about finally seeing Herimor was that it showed more of Marc Secchia’s incredible world-building.  Herimor is populated by so many different species of dragons from the intensely creative Thunderous Thirty to the absolutely ludicrous Metallic Fortress Dragon.  (Yes, I know they were engineered by the Dragon-Lovers but they’re still ridiculous.)  Aside from the occasionally ridiculous dragon species, I was really impressed by Herimor.  From the variety of species to the moving islands, it really is incredible and is the perfect setting for the final showdown against Thoralian.

Aranya really undergoes a journey throughout Song of the Storm Dragon.  She has lost one of the things that defines her to other people: her physical beauty.  She was tortured by Thoralian and now has to deal with the aftermath of that.  And while overthrowing an empire isn’t easy, what comes after is often harder as she and her father try to manage the transition of power.  After decades of Sylakian rule on some islands, how can they go back to their own system of government?  What about the Dragon Shapeshifters that were rescued from Thoralian and his monstrous family?  Where will they go and what will they do?  These are hard questions with unclear solutions that will have to be dealt with while Aranya and the gang race Thoralian to Herimor to stop the First Egg from falling into his clutches.

Add into this whole mix the tension between her and Ardan.  Aranya definitely feels conflicted about her relationship with Ardan, especially after Thoralian’s torture disfigured her entire body.  While that may feel shallow, you have to remember that while she’s brought down an empire, she’s still only seventeen years old.  Being a teenager is hard enough without going from ‘so beautiful men can’t ignore you’ to ‘everyone young and old recoils when they see your face’.  On top of this, add in the fact that Ardan and Aranya’s meeting and oath swapping was pre-determined by Fra’anior himself and the two of them had very little choice in the matter.  If you’re looking for a neat ending to wrap up all of these problems, you won’t get it in this third book.  Marc Secchia is the master of ambiguity and ethical/moral grey areas so of course nothing is all that simple although both Aranya and Ardan get a little closure by the end of the novel.

The plot was fast-paced and complex with some heart-wrenching plot twists, particulary toward the end.  Still, despite the sort of cliffhanger ending it was satisfying on an emotional level and it did resolve some major plot points.  Basically, most of the main questions raised at the beginning of the book are answered by the end but there are still enough questions remaining that I’m going to be pining for the fourth book that’s coming sometime in 2017.

If you loved the previous two books, you’re going to enjoy Song of the Storm Dragon.  I can’t wait to see what happens next in Aranya’s tumultuous life.

I give this book 4.5/5 stars.

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The Onyx Dragon by Marc Secchia

(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

The battle is won, but the war has just begun. Evil stalks the Island-World as the Marshal of Herimor and his Dragon-slaying hordes put nation after nation to the sword. The haunting cry of the Nurguz summons all Dragonkind to their doom. None can resist.

But Marshal Re’akka and his all-conquering Dragon Assassins are not the only trouble on the horizon. For there is a new Dragoness finding her wings, and she will stop at nothing to protect her loved ones. She is Pip the Pygmy Dragon, jungle-born, survivor of seven years in a zoo. She dreamed of being Human. She is more. Much more.

Now, Dragon wings darken the dawn. Diminutive. Sassy. Full of fire and great heart. As Pip and her friends chart a perilous path in search of the secrets of her heritage, they will find a power of old reborn in the smallest of Dragons.

One will stand against evil.

She is Onyx, mighty of paw and deed. She is the laughter of starlight, and she will never allow evil to prevail. Let Dragons thunder! Let the battle commence!

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

After the end of The Pygmy Dragon, Pip was nearly assassinated and the man who was her enemy, Silver, confessed he’s attracted to her. I honestly didn’t think The Onyx Dragon could end on a bigger cliffhanger than that, but it does. But truly, the cliffhanger is just representative of the entire novel: it’s a rollercoaster. And it’s not just a rollercoaster in terms of plot; it’s definitely an emotional rollercoaster as well.

Pip is a great character and here in this second book we see a lot of the good characteristics that led her to succeed in the first book: determination, honesty, loyalty and, most of all, her fierce love for her friends. She really will do anything to protect them and that’s demonstrated in quite spectacular fashion in The Onyx Dragon. I can’t really go too much into plot details without spoiling so many of the twists but let’s just say that the ending was both jaw-dropping but very much in character. One of the parts of the book I liked the most in terms of character development, however, was when Pip had to go find Pygmies near her home island in order to uncover some ancient lore pertaining to her words of power.

Of course, like with the rest of Marc Secchia’s books, the secondary characters are very well developed as well. I’m a huge fan of Silver because I like the whole ‘tortured turncoat’ trope when the turncoat in question goes over to the good side. Although he’s gone over to the good side, Silver still keeps his cards close to his chest and when some secrets he didn’t tell are revealed, his relationship with Pip is tested almost to the breaking point. Speaking of characters, it was also nice to see a young Nak and Oyda and how their relationship progressed because by the time we get to Aranya, they’re already an old couple.

If you loved The Pygmy Dragon, you will adore this sequel. It’s fast-paced, filled with plot twists and great character development and the ending is incredibly emotional. You’re going to need some tissues nearby when you read it, trust me. Honestly, you can’t ask for a better sequel than this. Although Pip’s story seems to be over for now, the choices she makes in this book will definitely play a huge role one hundred and fifty years later in the third book in The Shapeshifter Dragon series, Song of the Storm Dragon. I can’t wait to find out what happens!

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne by David Gaider

(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

After his mother, the beloved Rebel Queen, is betrayed and murdered by her own faithless lords, young Maric becomes the leader of a rebel army attempting to free his nation from the control of a foreign tyrant.

His countrymen live in fear; his commanders consider him untested; and his only allies are Loghain, a brash young outlaw who saved his life, and Rowan, the beautiful warrior maiden promised to him since birth. Surrounded by spies and traitors, Maric must find a way to not only survive but achieve his ultimate destiny: Ferelden’s freedom and the return of his line to the stolen throne.

I just recently got back into gaming after a hiatus that ended up lasting several years. When I got back into it I bought Dragon Age: Inquisition and fell in love with the world of Thedas. Normally I would role my eyes at video game tie-in novels but I decided to give Dragon Age: The Stole Throne a try because the lore I found in the game was very rich, detailed and consistent. As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised.

The first thing I have to say is that The Stolen Throne works both as a video game tie-in and a regular novel. You don’t have to play the games to understand the book and you don’t have to read the book to understand any of the games in the franchise. So I’m basically judging it as I would any other novel. Wtih that said, I really enjoyed the book.

The thing that stands out most in this novel is the characters. Maric is your typical young prince (even if he and his mother are rebels on the run in their own country) and his naivety in the beginning is hilarious. He also finds the perfect foil in the serious, very mature Loghain, an outlaw who lives with his father and other Fereldans who resist the Orlesian occupation. Loghain challenges Maric’s preconceptions about his own country, his people and the realities of the world. They initially hate each other but their friendship grows as their struggle against the Orlesians continues. It seems like a rather typical story of enemies becoming the best of friends but their friendship happens quite organically and it’s tested again and again, particularly when Loghain falls in love with Maric’s intended.

I think my favourite character in the whole novel is Katriel. She’s an elven bard, which in the world of Thedas makes her both admired and a complete pariah. She’s an elf, which means she’s constantly discriminated against by the humans (which make up the majority of the population). But she’s also an Orlesian bard: a singer, courtier and an assassin-for-hire. Katriel has had her fair share of hardship and she’s fairly cynical but she still falls for Maric despite her contract to kill him. At first she seems to see him as representing a more innocent life, a better life for her. Then, later on, she really does seem to love Maric on his own merits. Katriel is a complicated and fascinating character and her story is way more nuanced than the whole “assassin who falls in love with her mark”.

The plot is quite fast-paced. There’s plenty of political intrigue, battles and interpersonal strife. Obviously, the road to the throne is hard for a young, inexperienced prince with a scattered army and few allies. David Gaider manages to balance his beautiful descriptions with the intense action scenes. While some of the plot twists were pretty typical, there were times when I was pleasantly surprised. Because although the plot summary makes it sound like a typical ‘young man fights to regain his throne/birthright’, The Stolen Throne is so much more than that. There are plenty of spins on tired old stereotypes.

If you’re a fan of the video games, you’ll obviously enjoy the book. But even if you’re not, this isn’t a bad fantasy book to pick up if you’re looking for a spin on a story as old as time. I can’t recommend it enough.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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The Carnelian Tyranny by Cheryl Koevoet

The Carnelian Tyranny by Cheryl Koevoet

(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

Three months after her trip through the vortex, Marisa MacCallum is having second thoughts about her engagement to Darian Fiore as she struggles to adjust to royal life.

But when palace spies uncover a secret plot to assassinate the royal family and eradicate the Crimson Knights, Marisa and Darian must put their plans for the future on hold to stop Savino da Rocha and his legion of warrior giants from stealing the throne.

After narrowly escaping an attempt on her life, Marisa is left to defend Crocetta while Darian marches off to war. But when Savino strikes at the heart of the kingdom with supernatural powers of darkness, Marisa must wage an even greater battle against the spiritual forces bent on destroying her family and ending the Fiore dynasty forever.

[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

Normally, I try to avoid books that deal with heavy religious themes.  They just aren’t for me as most of them come off as overly preachy and generally obnoxious.  With that said, I did love The Carnelian Tyranny, which basically follows the story of the life and death of Jesus Christ in an alternate world.  So what made this book different from so many religion-themed books I’ve read?  Well, for one there’s not all that much preaching.  Yes, there are scenes where the characters pray and debate their faith but it never comes across as Cheryl Koevoet herself saying to her readers “You must accept Christianity”.  No, it was just a book where faith is presented as a normal part of many of the charcters’ lives and that was that.

And what really separates The Carnelian Tyranny from many other books I’ve read with similar themes is that while the religious aspect is part of the plot, it’s not necessarily the main focus at all times.  No, Marisa’s doubts about her engagement and her role as the future ruler of Crocetta are front and centre.  There’s also the whole Savino angle as our devious Count isn’t going to take Marisa’s perceived insult toward him lying down.  So the religious plot and the political plot are intertwined in a way that feels quite natural, particularly in a society generally modeled on Medieval Europe.  And of course there’s also Marisa and Darian’s relationship, which becomes strained because Darian doesn’t understand why Marisa is so reluctant to get married young and Marisa is having a hard time accepting her new high status even though she knows it’s her duty (and her birthright).

Marisa in this second book is a little more confident and just a little more sure of herself.  She’s working hard to learn the language of her people as well as the customs and responsibilities being a ruler of Crocetta involves.  Marisa has Darian to support her but their relationship obviously isn’t perfect.  They argue and fight but you can always tell they love each other deeply.  I can’t go into much detail without spoiling some amazing plot twists, but when they get separated it’s this love that keeps both of them going even when things seem completely hopeless.  Best of all, Cheryl Koevoet doesn’t neglect her secondary characters as she lets us see things not only from Darian and Marisa’s points of view but also those of Marisa’s brother Marcus and a few other notable characters.

With a relatively unpredictable plot and some great character development, The Carnelian Tyranny is a solid second book.  On top of that, there was also some great world-building as readers were introduced to the politics of the entire world of Carnelia because Crocetta is not as isolated as it may appear.  There are outside forces constantly at work and not all of them are friendly toward Marisa as the new ruler.  The only real quibble I have with The Carnelian Tyranny is that I felt everything was wrapped up too neatly in the end.  There weren’t any outside threats other than Savino when the story was over despite the fact many countries/kingdoms would love to attack anyone near them when they’ve proven weak (as history has shown us time and time again).  And one of the outside kingdoms that came to Crocetta’s aid didn’t actually play that big of a role in the war against Savino.  I felt there was more to explore in the way of international politics.

However, if you loved The Carnelian Legacy, you’ll probably enjoy The Carnelian Tyranny as much as I did.  I can’t wait for the third book.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

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