I was so intrigued by A Drowned Kingdom that I approached the author for a copy. Huge thank you to P.L. Stuart for providing me one in exchange of an honest review!
|Series: The Drowned Kingdom Saga #1||Genre: Epic Fantasy|
|Date of Publishing: February 2, 2021||Trigger Warnings: bigotry (racial, religious) violence, war|
|Page count: 438||Publisher: Self-published|
Once Second Prince of the mightiest kingdom in the known world, Othrun now leads the last survivors of his exiled people into an uncertain future far across the Shimmering Sea from their ancestral home, now lost beneath the waves. With his Single God binding his knights to chivalric oaths, intent on wiping out idolatry and pagan worship, they will have to carve out a new kingdom on this mysterious continent―a continent that has for centuries been ravaged by warlords competing for supremacy and mages channeling the mystic powers of the elements―and unite the continent under godly rule.
With a troubled past, a cursed sword, and a mysterious spirit guiding him, Othrun means to be that ruler, and conquer all. But with kingdoms fated on the edge of spears, alliances and pagan magic, betrayal, doubt, and dangers await him at every turn. Othrun will be forced to confront the truths of all he believes in on his journey to become a king, and a legend.
When one kingdom drowns, a new one must rise in its place. So begins the saga of that kingdom, and the man who would rule it all.
“The Elynlyr was alive. The dragonflies, angered, lifted off from the fringes of the water and swooped over our bows whenever we approached them, and the trout, frightened, jumped in front of our prows as we passed. The dimples in the water appeared and disappeared subtly in our wake, as otters swam and played off our stern.”
Walls by Jamie N. Common.
Love the bluesy feel to this song and I thought some of the words fit Othrun’s attitude leading his people into a new land.
There’s a lot to like about Stuart’s A Drowned Kingdom. It’s epic fantasy on a grand scale with a richly detailed world packed full of history and culture.
There are three parts to the story and a prologue. The beginning was a dense start with a fair amount of information, people, and places for me to digest, as it establishes the lead character, a history of his home, place in society, and his family… etc. There are also several very helpful appendixes and maps – all the extras, that epic fantasy lovers will appreciate.
The writing feels a bit old-fashioned in the narration style but it suits the storyteller feel; which felt a lot like it could have been told to us while sitting around having drinks at a tavern. And our narrator, Othrun, second Prince of the kingdom of Atalantyx, has a great voice. He is insightful and occasionally humorous; as he regales us with his story, peppering it with hints or sometimes just outright telling us things to come (like Stephen King does) always keeping us interested, and reading. It helped a lot that Othrun, while maybe not always likeable, he was a very readable character and once I settled in, I found I was hooked, wanting to know what happens to him and his people. Things get really interesting once they journey from their lost home of Atlantyx to their new land and we explore more of the magic, cultures, and Othrun gains allies in the new world.
As a young man who has it all, Othrun starts out incredibly arrogant in his views, but you can’t help but like him, even when you want to twist his ear and tell him to quit being such a narrow-minded dolt. He loves his family and friends and genuinely worries about their well-being. He loves his country, and he stands up for his beliefs (as misguided as some of them are) and tries to find a peaceful solution first, especially when it affects those he loves. One thing I liked about him was that, though he may still do what he wants, he always listened to others’ council.
His arrogance in how he sees the rest of the world as heathens, etc., is his only real character glitch.
Othrun’s goal once they get to their new land is to make alliances. To conquer and teach the heathens the way of the single God. But as the story progresses, he finds his allies are upstanding worthy men, and his perspective starts to shift. I liked that he showed some growth and willingness to learn about/from others.
I also really enjoyed Othrun’s interactions with his cousins, and advisor – especially, Glathan and the old-timer (whose name is escaping me atm).
The Island Kingdom of Atalantyx worship the single God – which to me had a bit of a Christianity feel, and I couldn’t help but think of the Bible in places; Moses leading his people to Israel or Genesis with the lineages, and especially Noah…. but to be fair, anytime you throw a large population on a big boat and leave behind your sinking homeland I am probably going to think of Noah (or possibly Evan Almighty, if he builds any of that boat himself).
The magic was just beginning to be explored and seemed to work on a belief/faith system from what I could tell. Lysi’s mage magic worked through the power of the elements of each of the Goddess, but it’s the belief in their power that enables the magic to happen. And of course, Othrun’s faith in the single God works in much the same way.
Slow build, richly detailed world – the only thing keeping me from loving it to pieces, was that for the most part it’s a told kind of story and I am not as big a fan of that style. I kept wishing to stop and explore the relationships or events, rather than be told about them. We did have a more hands-on type story towards the end but as it is all from Othrun’ POV, it’s still limited that way.
I say this in almost every book review I write, but this could have been quite a bit shorter. It was a little wordy in places, I found myself skimming a bit through the repetitive and unneeded information (like the lineages). I also have a preference for ‘more is said with less’ word choices these days, so take this complaint as you will.