Review: Kydona ~ T.K. Krug III

Kydona

Named for heaven, the kingdom of Elessia once served as a beacon to the world. Now its name has become a byword for decadence. When Lord Prince Marcus de Pilars hears the beginnings of a vast conspiracy from the lips of his dying mother, he sets out to uncover the motives lurking behind the war his father waged. With the help of Kaelyn Beauvais—a sharp-tongued courtesan nursing a long-hidden desire—and Vernon de Gauthier—a near-disturbingly prolific womanizer with a weakness for apples—Marcus slowly unearths the truth: his country lies on the brink of collapse. And soon, the vanquished nation of Kydona will rise to settle a generation-old score.

In Elessia’s debauched court, the threat goes unheeded. Marcus’s romances bloom and just as quickly wither. Blood is shed, lives extinguished. It matters little. Quarrel and murder, lust and love, right and wrong—the lines that separate these are hopelessly blurred in the throes of court intrigue. And the difference between each rests on a knife edge so sharp that even a hero cannot tell them apart.

3 Thumbs-Up

This is the first in a series of books centred round Kydona and, in this book we find a lot of the scene setting done that will, hopefully come to fruition in later episodes, which definitely does not make it a stand-alone read.

Time has been taken to develop the characters in this book, starting with a male lead that is gradually fleshed out in the opening chapters.  He is arrogant, reckless and an all round heel; visualise Joffrey in Game of Thrones, and you are on the right track.  As befits someone in his position, he has very little regard for those around him, even his own Mother and, as the novel progresses we see a change brought about by the realization of the consequences of his acts.  Not enough of a change to make this character likeable, but enough to make the reader wonder where, and how, he will develop in later books.  It is suffice to say that he not your stereotypical hero and, if you cannot put your dislike of him to the side, you may not read to the end of the novel; a character does not have to be likeable to be a good character.

In writing Kydona, the Author has revealed an amazing ability to describe court intrigue, weaponry and warfare, which led me to believe he had done a fair amount of research.  Some aspects written about though, would not have all been present in the same era so, because of this, I would not wholly regard this book as fitting in the Fantasy genre as it has more of the elements found in a good Steampunk novel.  This clash of elements though, only added to the book  and made me wonder which direction things would go, making me want to read on.

Dialogue is very precise and drawn out in some places, making the reader wish they would get on with it already and move on.  But again this slow and precise interaction is what makes this a good little read, setting more scenes for future works, and also answering questions that come up whilst reading this one.  If you are averse to swearing and gratuitous sex scenes in your reads, this may not be the book for you.  In my opinion, I sometimes felt as if the sex scenes were added as fillers and because the Author was a little at a loss as to how to tie up that particular section; they don’t propel the plot onward or in any direction I could see.  Fortunately they are not badly written, so at least that was their one redeeming feature.  There is a little racial stereotyping in this novel, but again we are not naive enough to believe it has been stamped out entirely in our real world, so why should it not appear in our literature as long as it isn’t written offensively, and this isn’t.

This is another easy read little book that fell by the wayside because of some proofreading and editing errors.  Some so obvious, I was surprised that they had not been picked up by someone out there prior to it being published. There were so many missing words, grammatical errors and a general butchering of the English language, that even I had to reread some passages several times before the light bulb went on and I could continue, and this led to the book only being awarded 3 thumbs.  I expected this to deliver so much more than it did and, even though I enjoyed it, because of all the errors I probably won’t read the next book in the series.

If you like the fantasy and Steampunk genres, I would recommend this as a quick read, as long as you are not expecting too much from its pages. 

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Review: Harem Slave: One Thousand Nine Hundred and Four Days of Hell on the Persian Gulf (Human Trafficking Series) ~ Nancy Hartwell Enonchong

Harem Slave

Harem Slave is not your predictable formulaic sex-slave novel; it is above all, a gripping and often suspense-filled documentary of the harrowing life of a victim of human trafficking. It is, in many respects, a survival guide for girls who find themselves in such unthinkable circumstances. Intended for mature readers, Harem Slave is not gratuitously pornographic, but due to the subject matter, does contain considerable erotic material.

Tammy Simmons is every parent’s dream daughter: 18, blonde, a majorette, and unimpressed with how beautiful she is. An honor roll student preparing to enter Georgetown University, she seems destined to take her comfortable place in upper-middle-class America. She has taken to heart the high moral principles instilled in her by her tight-knit family, and dreams of being a diplomat. While visiting friends in Europe, however, she is abducted, and to her stunned disbelief, shipped to the Middle East and sold as a harem slave to an 81-year-old sheikh. He is scandalized when he discovers she’s not the buxom Swede he ordered, and sells her to the brooding and cantankerous Sheikh Saud. A year later, she becomes the property of Sheikh Fahd, who dyes the girls in his Rainbow Harem different colors; she is Miss Green. When Miss Purple furtively poisons him, she is bought by the handsome but mentally imbalanced Prince Ibrahim, who has been known to put slaves to death so he and his guests can enjoy their fresh corpses at his lavish parties. Fortunately or unfortunately, instead of taking her into his own harem, he leases her to an elite gentlemen’s club, part of a dark underworld on the Persian Gulf where brothels cater to every taste, every perversion, every excess. She quickly learns that brutality, even in the “nice” clubs, is the norm: in the worst, life expectancy is calculated in weeks. Disciplinary problems are threatened with being sent to a “snuff club,” where they are tortured to death as entertainment. To this point, Tammy has managed to adjust to slavery without completely negating her persona, but now, she almost comes unglued. She has no other choice, if she wants to survive, but to swallow her self-respect and obey orders. It’s a constant struggle. She is proud of herself for not falling apart during one particularly horrible assignment – and then is immediately trundled off to another that’s even worse.

How Tammy remains sane in this horrific environment is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit, to the power of love toward those who deserve it the least, and to the defiant determination to find glimmers of joy – even lasting love – in a life awash with daily humiliation and degradation. Her caring heart, courage, and ability to understand her masters as fallible humans grappling with their own sets of demons are ultimately the keys to her salvation.

3 Thumbs-Up

This book is intended for mature readers only, and the overly sensitive may be wise to pass it by.

In this novel, the Author touches upon an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ topic – human trafficking and, given the topic I was expecting a little more than the book actually delivered for me.

The main lead character is female and unfortunately, at no point in my reading this book did I actually find myself caring about her.  She possessed all the traits of the over privileged and wealthy teenager, who always knows better than those around her, and disregards all advice given to her.  Because of this, and as harsh as it seems, I was really made to feel as if she got what was coming to her.

The book itself is intended to be a compilation of actual events that happened to women caught in the world of human trafficking, but it really stretched believe at some points with the women’s reactions to their ‘owners’.  I understand all about Stockholm Syndrome, but none of the behaviour exhibited by the characters evenly remotely put them in this category.  This does not mean that the book is not well researched, it is actually very well researched and written, but despite this it still sat firmly in the women’s soft porn genre, rather than giving me an insight into a criminal world that needs exposing.  I felt that so much more could have been done with this topic to make it a voice for those who are either still in ‘captivity’ or have recently been rescued.

Another downside for me, in the Kindle edition, was the erratic and choppy formatting.  I really don’t need a page full of half sentence paragraphs that I have to try to make sense of, on top of everything else that is happening.  A little more time with proofreading and editing would also have helped in taking care of some other errors that appeared throughout the book.  Usually I can work with these and they don’t detract from what I am reading, but in this case, it just made my experience a little harder to swallow.

I am not a prude, and like erotica, but I like it when it is open and declares itself as such, not comes in the disguise of something else.  If you are a reader that enjoys bondage and cruelty, then this would be for you.  If, however, you are looking for an informative read on human trafficking that could be used as a rally cry to help end this activity, I feel you may be sorely disappointed.

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