SPFBO: Fortune’s Fool by Angela Boord

Series: Eterean Empire #1Rating: 7.5/10
Date of Publishing: June 25th 2019Genre: fantasy
Publisher: Self-PublishedNumber of Pages: 737

 

Blurb

A secret affair. A disfiguring punishment. A burning need for revenge.

Kyrra d’Aliente has a bad reputation and an arm made of metal.

Cast out of the safe and luxurious world of silk to which she was born, played as a pawn in a game of feuding Houses, Kyrra navigates a dangerous world of mercenaries, spies, and smugglers while disguising herself as a man.

War destroyed her family and the man she loved.

Vengeance is within her grasp.

But is she willing to pay its price?

 

Belle’s Review – 7/10

It’s been a little moment since I finished reading this and I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. On one hand, it is a delightfully sprawling epic, and on the other hand, the main character drove me up the wall for a large part of it.
One of the things I struggled with was the dual timeline method of telling the story. This is something I usually enjoy, but I just couldn’t see the benefit of telling the story this way. It wasn’t until well over halfway through the book that I knew enough about Kyrra’s past to understand her present and it wasnt until I had that understanding that I truly began to enjoy the story. Having a more linear narrative would have been much better for me.
I loved the world building though, and was quite happily immersed in that aspect of the book. It was fun exploring a society that’s on the cusp of using guns, and watching them grapple with the impact the new weapons have. I was intrigued by the deity aspect as well, and the impact they have on their chosen people. It was woven in nicely with a far more modern society than the average medieval-inspired fantasy.
Overall I think this is a series I will continue with, now that I have a better understanding of how everyone got to where they are, but I’m not sure I would have been patient enough to make it to the end if I wasn’t reading it for the competition.

 

Jen’s Review – 8.5/10

The victim of a power-play between the houses Kyrra, has fallen from grace and has been excommunicated, not even allowed to use her name. For a young woman who has spent most of her life pampered and is now among the lowest of the servants, it’s a rough punishment to pay for following your heart. Her story picks up five-years later, Kyrra now a mercenary going by the name Kyris and has been hired to kill the one person in the world she would happily do in for free.

***

This started a little rough for me. Lots of houses, and names and so on to muddle through but it doesn’t take long to find its feet. This story straddles two timelines and the characters are where this really draws you in, especially once we make the jump back and start learning about Kyrra’s younger self, her relationship with Cassis and everything that led to her downfall, including the loss of her arm (which was a brutal punishment).  This part is definitely one of those- you know where it’s headed but you can’t look away situations. It is totally engrossing.

I was so invested in her, and seeing how she survives the fallout of these events that by the time we meet Arsenault (who totally won me over with his kindness towards Kyrra) I was truly hooked. The relationship/romance/friendship between these two was the most enjoyable part of the story for me. I am always about the chase when it comes to romance, so the ups and downs between them had me flipping pages pretty quickly.

In the background of these relationships is this interesting and established world, that is rich with culture.

The family estate deals in silk. They do everything from raising the worms right up to the processing of and selling of the silk. I loved everything about this and found it all fascinating. Odd bits of details here and there tell us the author did her research but most importantly didn’t go overboard with letting us know she did her research.

The family houses and their politics; competing and trading to stay on top, not just in silk but other things as well, could get a little complicated with the history of different family’s backstabbing and grasps for power. Some of this is playing in the background and working its way to forefront of the story, as the timeline works its way to current – we see the bigger pieces start to fall into place.

I love the bits of lore that are told throughout the story about the Gods and their relationships how they were cast out or died. Which as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the magic and the Gods are as wrapped up in the plot and the characters as everything else is.

This was ambitious. I was impressed with the scope of the story, with the writing and how drawn in I was to these people and their lives. But, I also felt this could have used a little trimming here and there to keep things on point. I found myself skimming through parts- with the politics (which I usually love), and later even with Arsenault (whom I also loved). Because everything is shrouded in secrets and there is a lot going on in the background that we don’t get understand how it fits until near the end, I had lost track of who some of the people were and didn’t care enough about others outside of Kyrra, Arsenault, and Mikelo (I really wanted more of him). A little trimming would have tightened up the distractions.

I felt like this story was the equivalent of a 700-page cat’s cradle – everything is so tangled up in everything else, and a lot of the answers only become clear towards the end of the book. I had a feeling at times, that one pull would either turn this into a huge snarl, or make this the most brilliant thing I’ve read all year.

Thankfully, this stands well on its own with no snarls, the main questions answered but lots of room to continue. An impressive debut.

Nick’s Review – 8/10

The setting and characters of Fortune’s Fool is one that hearkens back to the time period of the Italian Renaissance.  It’s a beautiful setting really, filled with vivid imagery, characters, and dialogue. There are a few fantasy series that I know of that have used similar world-building, but none quite so effective and impactful as Fortune’s Fool in my opinion.

The story centers around a woman named Kyrra. Once heir to the Aliente House, she unfortunately runs into some ill fortune and also a villainous fiend who causes her to become an outcast and pariah. Her desperate need for revenge becomes boundless and she will stop at nothing to earn that revenge against those who left her disfigured with very few of the remaining hopes that she once had for her life.

We get flashes of the events that led to her current situation through an alternating timeline POV that is very effective in shedding light on all that has gone before while giving us a great glimpse of the present-day Kyrra. It’s part of the reason why the book is over 700 pages long but I thought it was necessary to convey the full story in the proper manner.

As we experience Kyrra’s past pain and anguish we also find out about her one true love Arsenault, who is the other half to her whole.  The dichotomy of their relationship set against Kyrra’s desire to settle the score with those who shamed her and ruined her life is a brilliant one and it propels the story to heights that it wouldn’t have reached otherwise.  For this is a book that is mainly centered on their romance. Is it doomed to fail? Or will their love be able to overcome even the most vile of tormentors bent on their destruction?

I normally am not a huge fan of romantic fantasy books, but Fortune’s Fool may have made me a believer.  I found this book to be at once captivating, mysterious, suspenseful, and downright heartbreaking at times.  But there are two things that always shine through and that is Kyrra’s determination and strength and the powerful relationship between her and Arsenault.

This is definitely a different read than what I’m used to but I am so glad that I ventured out of my comfort zone for a while to experience it. Angela Boord is an author to pay attention to because she writes prose that you don’t see a lot in the genre these days and creates characters who are so deep and rich that you feel as if you’ve known them your entire life. Bravo Angela, Fortune’s Fool is a definite winner in my book!

Timy – 6.5

Alright, I think, once again, I’m going to be the bad guy here. I honestly wasn’t as impressed with Fortune’s Fool as everyone else seems to be. With its 737 pages, this book is a monster. That being said, Fortune’s Fool can be a real page turner at times, especially in the first half, when we are in the present timeline. Even so, at 75% I was really tempted to just DNF it, because I just couldn’t find it in myself to care for any of the characters, or the plot, or any of it, really. I also think this book would have benefited, if it was shorter, and personally I think I could do without the Silva/Meli plotline altogether as they didn’t really add anything to the story – except a few details about a past event. Oh and the sudden appearence of the gods out of nowhere – I confess that plotline is also confusing to me, but it might be just me.

Let’s talk a bit about the characters – we have a large cast of them, most of them with their own agenda. Which is all good but at times I absolutely had no idea who wants what and why and I guess that also was why I just wanted to quit at one point. Kyrra is probably the only one with clear motivations at least the only one I could make sense of anyway.

The book is written in two timelines – past and present which didn’t bother me much, though if it was written in a single timeline, I don’t think I would have gotten through the book. Young Kyrra just grated on my nerves endlessly. I liked older Kyrra more and honestly the present timeline started out really strong. I enjoyed the thrill of Kyrra looking for answers and getting into trouble while trying to be invisible in a city in which death was waiting for her if caught. Somewhere around the 50% mark things turned, and I started to warm up toward young Kyrra and get annoyed with older Kyrra. I think, in young Kyrra’s case what bothered me is that we never really see her struggle. Sure, we are being told she does, but I think I would have liked to see her emotions more. About her transition of life, about adapting to her new circumstances. I just didn’t feel anything for her – not symphaty or pity or anything. Arsenault, I kinda liked throughout, but I would have liked some more of character growth for him, or a different arc or something – he more or less remained the same mysterious person who doesn’t talk about his past (for good reasons, but still) and just couldn’t see how these two would work out together.

Okay, I know this review has been very critical, but you can give one thing to Fortune’s Fool, it has a big, immersive world built up for it. It’s clear that Angela Boord meticulously created her world which is full of details. The villa and the land feels really real. I would have liked to spend more time discovering the city.

Fortune’s Fool is clearly a character driven fantasy, with an Italian-like setting. So if that’s your thing, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one. For me, however Fortune’s Fool had nothing to make it stand out from the crowd – neither the plot or characters made it unforgettable, though Angela Boord has a strong prose, eye for details and the potiential to write great books in the future. I definitely encourage you to give Fortune’s Fool a go.

Belle: 7   Jen: 8.5/10   Nick: 8/10   Timy: 6.5

Our official SPFBO 5 rating for Fortune’s Fool:

7.5/10

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