- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 3175 KB
- Print Length: 829 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Jolly Creative Atelier; 2 edition (14 Feb. 2018)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B079VHT37B
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #621 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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|Print List Price:||£16.99|
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The Books of Caledan Trilogy: (An Epic Fantasy Collection: The Tainted Crown, The Brooding Crown, The Shattered Crown) Kindle Edition
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The Tainted Crown
The Tainted Crown dives straight into a conflict: betrayal and usurption, blood and violence. The narrative splits into two threads, with two main protaganists and the divergent threads mirror each other neatly: Prince Soren, on the run, seeking allies with the legends of his homeland in a fiery, desolate waste; Lady Eve, escaping her bounds, seeking allies with the legends of her estranged family in an light, airy idyll.
Of course there are battles, and magic, and dragons galore. The antagonist, Zaki, is so evil he brings to mind the classic vizier trope (always best portrayed for me by Jafar in Disney's Aladdin!). The ostensible main quest is for Soren to win back his crown, and for love to trump politics for Eve, but the reader (especially any reader who has also devoured The First Crown novelette - sold separately) is very aware that there is much more at stake than the character's happiness, freedom, or even the peace of the kingdom. There is a bigger, overarching evil looming that will put usurper Zaki's machinations into stark perspective.
There are some lovely unique touches: my particular favourite was the dragon throne. I love the idea of a rulership needing to be legitimised by a higher authority, but it also opened up interesting questions for me about what morality that authority is based on, whether it is infallible etc. I also loved the foray into the retreat of the Eldarkind (the Celedanian equivalent of an elven race), the exploration of their magical powers and their societal structure. The only slight gripe is that they are almost TOO perfect (and therefore a little bit smug/sanctimonious?). In comparison the dragons have more 'humanity' in them, with their sibling bickers and youthful rebellions.
Another nice touch is the 'army' that Soren raises to retake his throne. I don't want to drop a spoiler here, so I will just say that I really liked the confirmation that it isn't just mystical signs and legends that make a true leader, but their relationship with the kingdom and the people therein.
This is obviously the first novel in a series, so it doesn't end neatly wrapped up with a bow on, but there is a conclusion to the shorter plot arcs explored, whilst leaving the threads trailing for the next novel to catch hold of. Overall a great start to what I hope will be a long new series for my shelves!
The Brooding Crown
The Brooding Crown is the second in the Caledan series and the strongest so far. I feel you would definitely need to have read the first book, The Tainted Crown first, and strongly recommend reading the short prequel, The First Crown too, as that sets the legendary history behind the whole plot.
While The Tainted Crown introduced us to the main players and their initial challenges, The Brooding Crown develops them much further, rounding them out into deeper and more complex people, and thereby making their reactions to their new situations less predictable. In this novel, Soren has apparently suceeded in his mission from book 1, but rests uneasy and has to fight for what he already thought he had won, whilst finding out that there is more behind ruling than simply winning and wearing the crown. Eve has to face the consequences of being a female in a patriarchal society as she is matched up with a suitable husband and has to decide whether to follow her heart to the man she truly loves, or follow her heart to the strength and freedom that comes from realising her own true potential: much more interesting than the old head vs. heart battle!
We also see a deepening in the character of Zaki in this installment. Previously he was somewhat of an evil cypher (I compared him to Jafar from Disney’s Aladdin!), but with more of his point of view coming through we get to understand him much better, and whilst he remains thoroughly unpleasant, the greater understanding unavoidably creates more empathy towards him. This in turn made me question the character’s labelling of Bahr as purely evil: is anyone truly ‘pure evil’ once we can see through their eyes and understand their feelings and motivations?
I was interested that rather than mirroring each other this time round, Soren and Eve’s stories seemed to be on opposite paths; with the odds turning against Eve’s fight as they improved for Soren. However both suffered great losses in their journeys, and it is becoming clearer that the fate of Caledan will rest on their individual endeavours without as much support as they hope for or even need…which makes it all the more nerve-wracking; especially as we see the ‘older and wiser’ societies of their allies, the dragons and the Eldarkind, respectively splintering and fading.
Overall this is a great second installment in the Caledan series and really moves things along in terms of plot and character, whilst also stepping it up a notch: tougher decisions, bigger dangers, more complex morality. I look forward to the climax of this series with great excitement.
The Shattered Crown
I paused approximately halfway through this book and put it down. Not because I wasn’t enjoying it…I was. I had to stop because I was so caught up with the injustice on the page that I needed a rant! Luckily no one was home to see me striding up and down, finger jabbing the air as I expostulated about intolerance and prejudice, and not helping those in need because they are different and unknown and therefore to be feared and hated. It all just hit a bit too close to home with the current political climate.
Then I started thinking. Ranting was no good. I wasn’t achieving anything. I was being too much Barclay and not enough Eve or Soren! So I actually got off my metaphorical backside, put my time and energy where my mouth was and started contacting volunteering opportunities in my local area, and quickly signed myself up for a few before I lapsed back into my customary apathy.
So I can honestly say that The Shattered Crown made a real-life impact for the better!
That noted, it is also an excellent fantasy read and the perfect finale for the Caledan series: two apparently indestructible foes; allies so far at odds with each other that they struggle to find any common ground; and a solution that will only work if they can unite despite it all. Let’s just say I picked it right back up after I got off the phone!
I particularly liked the addition of the bond between Myrkdraga and Lorellei and how that began and developed, as a perfect example of how deep-seated prejudice can be overcome by proximity, understanding, and shared adversity.
It was also interesting to see how Eve and Soren grew from the first to the last books, as their outlook and decision-making skills displayed greater maturity and wisdom. We saw them develop from naive teens to strong and stable rulers, and that brought with it a sense of almost parental pride in their journey; we saw them grow up.
Finally, the overall pacing was well set, so the tension built up to the climax of the action, then the resolution was complete and left the reader feeling satisfied and ‘finished’. There is an especially touching closure for one of my favourite characters of the whole series (no spoilers here!), which got me quite emotional, but in a happy way because it felt right. For the majority of the characters though, it was clear that their world would continue on without our observation. I much preferred this balance to leaving too many loose threads trailing, or severing them all and wrapping things with a bow on top…a few minor issues outstanding, but with the confidence that the characters are now equipped with the skills and experience to face whatever else comes.
(Reviews by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog)
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