Very enjoyable read,
This review is from: Kydona (Kindle Edition)
I was pleasantly surprised by Kydona. I found it a very enjoyable read however it just misses out on that final star because I could not bring myself to quite fall in love with it.
First off I am impressed that the author showed us an extremely well-realised world. One thing I absolutely love is when I get the feeling the author knows much more than s/he is letting on. A world feels real when you can imagine that it has a history where many adventures have already taken place before the current crop of main characters were even born. And I got that feeling with this book, mainly because of the mythology of Ancel and Elessia, on which the culture/religion of this land is based.
Crown Prince Marcus de Pilars is our main character and the eyes through which we view this world. Other readers have described him as arrogant and reckless and hard to like. Personally, I am attracted to protagonists who aren't whiter than white. Had he been always valiant and honourable, always ready to defend the weak and vanquish evil I would have found him boring. Because a character like that can only be broken by the external world. A more realistic character, who has many facets and shades, can be defeated by his own personality flaws and bad decisions and that is far more interesting to read. He is young, inexperienced and suddenly exposed to new things like grief, love, deception and betrayal, all while bearing the burden of his position and having a strained relationship with his father. This is Marcus the boy and as the series goes on I think we will see him grow into Marcus the man. It will be good to see how circumstances, like war, change him and what decisions he makes in the future.
But my criticism here is that Marcus is the only rounded character in this book. The rest are flat. Vernon is a one dimensional party animal. The noble lords are of course cunning and conniving. Jaspar is your quintessential spoilt brat bully. Possible exception is King Audric who one feels is a reluctant ruler ruing the bad decisions he has made regarding his family life.
Allow me here to air one small gripe; not about the book but rather in defence of it. Other reviewers have commented on the use of certain elements that are ill-fitting for the 'time' of the novel. Listen to me, lovely readers. Please don't get bogged down by this. As a fantasy author myself, I vociferously promote the freedom to create worlds that are unlike our own and this means playing around with time, technology, real events in human history, use of magic systems etc. Kydona, like a lot of fantasy novels, is based in a version of medieval Europe. But that doesn't mean it is actually ABOUT medieval Europe. It is still Fantasy Fiction not Historical Fiction, so give us a break!
So despite a great main character and a well-written setting, why did I not love Kydona? There are a couple of reasons. The first is the disappointing way the female characters were reduced to virgin/whore stereotypes. In the red corner, the courtesans Kaelyn and Roslene and in the blue corner, sweet, sweet Jacquelyn who is actually a virgin. Also the word bitch was used to insult women far too may times for my liking, even when it was used by a female character.
The second reason is that unfortunately the Intrigue part comes second to Marcus's love story. If the blurb had led me to believe this was primarily a romance I wouldn't have a problem. But my expectations were based on a blurb that talked about court politics and a Game of Thrones-style Trust No One policy. Marcus's dying mothers words of warning were vague to say the least. She did not give enough information for any mystery to be truly thrilling. If I was Marcus I would have put her 'warning' down to pain and delusion.
Overall this book was a little slow on impact and pace even though it was well written. The dialogue is punchy and the descriptions nice and vivid.
One last thing, why is the name of the enemy country the title of the book??