Confusing 3 stars at best – Deserves 2
I was anxious to get this book after reading the synopsis, but once it arrived, I found it very hard to get into. It took me more than two months to finish it and I love to read. I had to lay it down, then go back later, and try to start in again. It was hard to keep everything straight because this book is all over the place, not what I expected.
One thing making the book difficult to grasp is a robot and reptilian creatures along with people riding horses and swinging swords. It didn’t really mesh with my thinking about historical novels, which is what I expected this to be.
The robot introduced in the beginning really turned me off. As far as I can tell, it’s a clone of some sort. This clone thinks it’s smarter than the man who invented it. Introduced later, the Sishmindri are some reptilian servants. What is the purpose of these elements in a historical novel? To me, this doesn’t fit in and is too futuristic and more like a science fiction book, taking away from the story.
Now, maybe there is a reason for these elements that the author will bring to light in the sequel to this book. It surprised me that the heroine of the story, Jianna, doesn’t have magical powers that could have gotten her out of some of the situations she encounters. This girl is constantly beat up during the story and threatened with rape, the first beating comes when she is on her way to meet her betrothed. Along the way, Onartino kidnaps Jianna and kills her entourage. Onartino is a real bad boy who is supposedly seeking revenge because Jianna’s father murdered his father. His intent is to torture her repeatedly.
At one point, Jianna manages to escape, but captured by the healer, Falaste Rione, and returned to Onartino’s keeping because Rione is his ally and he doesn’t believe the horrible things she tells him. Later on, Jianna helps Rione with his healing of the wounded soldiers, not knowing they are there because of her father.
Jianna, brought up as a sheltered and spoiled girl, thinks her father is a wonderful man. He hides all his shady dealings from her and is really a manipulative traitor with only his best interest in mind. Of course, the reader and many people in the book know otherwise, except Jianna.
The story jumps back and forth from Jianna’s predicament to her father, Aureste, who has his own troubles with the political struggles to find his daughter while keeping his own position as a lord ruled by conquerors. He intends never to show his real self to his daughter as he hangs on to the kingdom, no matter what it takes. The powerful people are bickering among themselves while the world falls apart around them.
To add to all this, there is this magical power “the source” that is supposedly to blame for all this turmoil and the world is changing with the possibility of this power releasing a plague to destroy everyone. Yet, no one is much concerned with this at this point; perhaps the next book will cover this issue.
Another issue I had with reading this is the long, tedious sentences and archaic English language. There is a lot of back-story and setting up encompasses most of this first book. Only the last bit did I feel like I was getting down to the story.
To sum it up, I hate to give a bad review, and this novel did have some well-drawn characters, but overall it is hard to follow and a bit depressing. I’m sure some readers would enjoy the bloody crimes, revenge, and intrigue. It isn’t all bad but moves way too slow without enough coherent action to keep me turning the pages. I know how hard it is to write a book and how many hours go into it, so I’m sorry to say it, but I will not read the sequel and can only give it two stars.