After reading Winter of the Wolf by Christina Ochs, I was in desperate need of emotional therapy. AKA I needed another dose of the wonderfulDesolate Empire series. I was given it in the form The Forsaken Crown, a Desolate Empire prequel that chronicles just some of the earlier adventures of always charming, kind, and polite Prince Kendryk and a wicked badass mercenary named Sonya. I didn’t really know what to expect with this novel, which is shorter than the other Desolate Empire books and didn’t have near as many perspectives, but was nonetheless entertaining and an exciting introduction to readers like me who need to read a series in order. I was given this a review copy of this novel but that in no way affects my opinion. A good book is a good book, and this one definitely fits the bill.
Sonya is a disgraced mercenary with shattered ambitions. Kendryk is a young ruler in danger of being overthrown. An unlikely pair, they must learn to trust each other to survive the turmoil ahead. But with a corrupt regent, a disloyal aristocracy, and an army in their way, the future looks grim.
The Forsaken Crown, a prequel to The Desolate Empire Series, delivers thrilling battles, devious political intrigue and compelling characters. The Forsaken Crown combines the action and excitement of the Three Musketeers with the sweeping imagery of fantasy. Readers are calling this powerful series “an all-ages Game of Thrones.”
As with the other books in this epic and unpredictable series, The Forsaken Crown is jam-packed with political intrigue and behind-the-scenes suspense as characters plot against each other in a struggle for power. That might not sound as exciting as the grit of one-on-one battles… until you realize it is. The way tension builds when the opposing sides work on their plot is as devious as it is exciting, and it truly is unpredictable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a scene from this series and bitten my nails down to the quick to see if it succeeds… or doesn’t. This makes the action scenes all the more harrowing because I literally don’t know if the person I’m cheering for is going to make it out alive.
As far as characters, there aren’t as many of them as there are in the other books, but I didn’t mind. This was a shorter read, and the story didn’t allow for more events to readers familiar with the series will likely experience the same thing I did when meeting Sonya: “Who is this person? What’s her purpose? Wow she’s badass? When’s her next chapter? Gimme more Sonya!” She’s absolutely kick-ass, a formidable woman who can hold her own in combat and who doesn’t back down from an opponent or a challenge, but who isn’t as stone cold as she thinks she is. She was an absolute joy to read about and I would love for her story to continue.
And of course, Kendryk. What can I say about him that I haven’t said about him in the past? He’s just so damn likeable! Even when he’s being naive and timid, it’s just so hard not to love such a friendly, honest, caring, genuine person who almost never loses his cool. You just want to pick him up and cuddle him, or, if you’re the warrior sort, protect him to the ends of the earth. But what I love about his character in The Forsaken Crown is that he really began to mature. Kendryk wants the best for everyone, but he soon learns that’s not possible and to be a good prince, he has to make choices that put lives in danger, and that with his opponents, bloodshed is inevitable.
The story is well paced and exciting, and those who are unfamiliar with it will find a lot to enjoy here. It’s a great doorway to readers looking for easy-going fantasy with little magic, brave warriors, powerful women, and a lot of heart. Definitely a recommend, and look at that cover–– who doesn’t want that on their shelf?