The High King’s Vengeance by Steven Poore
I was lucky enough to be able to read an advance copy of this – mostly because I squeaked so hard over The Heir To The North. I finished it, squeaked at Steven, and then promptly fangirled over Rais with Sammy. He’s soooo dreamy and also a complete idiot! He’ll charm you and infuriate you in equal measures, the handsome git. #HKV #RaisTheDreamboat
Anyway, now that’s out the way, I can get down to what I thought of the book.
If you haven’t read The Heir to the North, read that. Then read this.
Seriously. Top of the TBR pile. Do it now.
There’s stories. There’s legends. There’s wizards and magic and betrayal and dragons and heroes and futures and terror and love and sacrifice and it is. So. Good.
But the book’s not overdone; this isn’t heroics and conquest. This is revenge, hatred, longing, pain and suffering. This is love when the future’s uncertain, bravery in the face of relentless and overwhelming opposition, choices when nothing’s right and nothing will save everything. This is a group of people who all have their own motivations and their own choices, and nothing’s ever entirely predictable.
Cassia’s still an excellent heroine; uncertain, unsure of what she’s doing or where she’s going, reluctant and afraid. But she’s also determined, tugged along by forces she knows are beyond her control. She accepts the future and does her best to steer it in the direction that seems calmest, for what that’s worth. Rais…well, you got what I think of him! But he’s also one of my favourites because of his development; he grows and changes along with the situation. The supporting characters are also excellent, personalities in their own right. The land itself is as much a character; Cassia’s travels stick because everything changes, and each place has a history and a changing present. We feel that the land matters because we can see it, and the motives become so much more real because we know what they’re fighting over.
I absolutely love this duo of books simply because they’re not heroic. They’re muddled greys and morals, complex characters and shifting loyalties. They’re not hard to follow, and they don’t have particularly complex plotlines – but I love the amount of detail that Poore brings to every interaction and twist, the feeling that there’s so many more stories that could be told about everyone and so many other directions that it could have gone if someone just made a different choice. The stories aren’t predictable. They’re not classically heroic. But they’re complex, page-turning, heart-tugging ones to be read and re-read, and I can’t think of a better mark of brilliance than that.
And I’m just gonna keep fangirling over Rais… *dreamy sigh*
Disclaimer: Yes, Kristell Ink is my publisher and I personally know Steven – but I do say what I think (as you can probably tell from the Rais-squeaking above…)