Stars: 2 out of 5
I am very disappointed with this book. The blurb promised something new, fresh, and with a unique worldbuilding. The book itself was simply… boring.
I understand that this is book one of a duology, but it seems like the author decided to pack all the worldbuilding and foreshadowing into this first book and leave all the action sequences for the second one. NOTHING happens here. Oh, we get plenty of travel between different locations, and politicking between the immortal rulers of the different countries… There is just… no urgency. No stakes, so to say.
We are told that the Agryrosi family is in danger, that Baba is loosing his grip on the land and the good will of the Council. That there could be an insurrection and the whole family would be killed and replaced. Okay, that’s the stakes then, right? Problem is that we are told that in the very beginning of the book, then the story unfolds at a very unhurried pace, I would go as far as say glacial. We spend about 75% of the book traveling, getting set up in different locations (which are described in great detail), but there is no action or sense of immediate danger or looming doom.
Another issue is that the characters act like they are in a bad YA book instead of the adults they are supposed to be.
Take Rhea for example. She is almost 200 years old, and came to her power when she was 24ish. She also chooses a new consort with every turn of the season, lives with them for the whole season, then kills them at the end to bring forth the next season. She even mentions that a lot of times those relationships are quite intimate and even carnal… Yet she behaves like a blushing virgin when shown even a little bit of attention by Michaeli, her latest consort. Really?
It also makes no sense for Lexos to entrust her with the mission of uncovering the conspiracy her consort is part of. She is a glorified trophy wife. She lives in her consort’s estate most of the time, and everyone knows who she is. Do you really think that people who are planning to rebel against her father will let her into their confidence?
And let’s be honest, she sucks at playing detective, or at telling lies, which another inconsistency with her character, since we are told that she is a master manipulator. Well, absolutely nothing in her behavior in this book shows that. In fact, for someone who lived for almost 200 years and traveled all over the country, she is strangely incompetent when it comes to reading people and understanding them.
Also, for a family of siblings who profess to love each other very much, there is too much deception and casual cruelty going on. And they don’t TALK to each other. They assume things, but they never talk them through. Lexos just assumes that Rhea will go against their father and do as he asks, because he is her brother and she loves him. He doesn’t even think of the consequences of that disobedience for her. And when he has to dole out the punishment, he doesn’t even apologize afterwards, even though she was beaten for his cause.
Lexos is actually a lot more unlikeable than Baba to me. He shamelessly uses his siblings in the name of protecting the family, never even stopping to think about the damage he does to them. Like that horrible game of chess between him and his little brother, where he destroyed him while Baba was watching, but never even thought to find him afterwards to apologize and explain why he had to play along with their tyrannical father.
So I don’t feel the love and care between the siblings, and I don’t feel the urgency of the stakes. Heck, by the end of the book I still didn’t particularly care if that family lived or died. Which made for a very long and boring read. Needless to say, I won’t be continuing with this series.
PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.