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.
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.