Member Reviews

The Emerald Queen. This one (to me) was a tad long-winded, which made it a long read. Not to say this is a bad thing, rather that it takes a bit out of you. This novel takes us on a delectable trip through action and adventure, landing us directly in a greatly-built world as we traipse the surroundings on our characters arcs. It is an intricatley woven novel, with twisty turny plot lines.

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The Emerald Queen is not a quick read, there is a lot of information and some of the parts may or may not fit. Overall it is a good read, but it is definitely for a fantasy lover.

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Seven years after the gods have been destroyed, Queen Ariane has a Dream that has her sending Captain Garland after her cousin Lord Tamersane. Following the war, Tamersane and his wife Teret had vanished into a city in a distant land, but he is now the key to staving off a power hungry emperor, the only one who can use the mythical bow Kerasheva. Simple enough, but three ancient sister sorceresses have their own games to play with Garland, Tamersane, and Teret. Fortunately, it brings them all together in a race for the bow, but the question should be why these rival sisters want it.

Book descriptions are often a reader's first introduction to a book. They give a taste of what you can expect and what the story is about. As a reader, I expect accuracy. With this book, I feel like I was duped, and that leads to a general feeling of resentment towards this book, so take my review with a grain of two or salt.

The description paints this as the story of a queen pitted against a power hungry emperor. As the description says:

"Now she must conquer her own demons before she can face this new enemy head-on."

I can count on one hand how many times we actually see Queen Ariane, which is a shame because she seemed like the most fascinating character. I'd love to know more about her demons and actually meet the emperor as he's only ever talked about.

Description aside, this book followed three main threads: war veteran Garland who will do as his queen bids, fallen and haunted man Tamersane who turned to drugs, and his ever-loyal wife Teret. Throughout the story, they are manipulated by the annoyingly cheerful and completely unhelpful Piper/Jynn and three sister sorceresses who are at odds with each other and do everything they can to play each character against the others as a means to an end.

Overall, I feel largely indifferent about this story. On one hand, it keeps moving and each move is logical. On the other, it wasn't entirely compelling to me. It's basically a really long journey into foreign lands and has the main characters on a quest while being manipulated by magical beings. Standard fantasy fare that adds little to the genre.

What I did find intriguing, and confusing at the same time, was the world. The wheel metaphor describing different times and dimensions was confusing until the end and, honestly, it felt like a stretch for much of the book, but it did create an interesting world of time and place converging. Of note, Rundali was quite fascinating with its movable forest (that I would never want to be caught in, but loved reading about). However, the world did feel a little out of focus. It was much easier to read about if I didn't focus on trying to figure it out, especially those woods since each experience was similarly terrifying but altogether different. Described as a stand alone, it definitely can, but I wonder if I would have benefited if I had read the previous books. Maybe the world would be crisper.

I can't not mention the writing. It kind of felt like I was reading a dialect of English. Considering the author is from England and currently lives in Georgia, that may very well be true! But it was annoying reading this book with a great deal of words like a, an, and the missing. Sure, I get what "go to table" means, but "go to the table" would have made for a smoother reading experience. There was also quite a bit of cursing and some very sex-hungry females that was a little off-putting to me, but nothing I couldn't gloss over. Overall, the writing felt a bit coarse and rough. Unfortunately, it was annoying and impacted my reading enjoyment.

The bottom line: a typical fantasy storyline where you don't have to read the previous books to understand it, but it might help.

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If you've read and liked other books set in this world, my review may be absolutely useless to you. Since I've not read them, I'm unable to judge how much of my concerns might be resolved by reading the more of the books.

The information on NetGalley specifically states that this book can be read independently. It's book one of a new trilogy on the same world as other books the author has written.

However, although I read the entire book, I'm still confused on what was happening. I feel like someone handed me a bag of puzzle pieces and while I was able to put some of them together, there are gaping holes and the connections between them are tenuous and I'm not really sure some of those pieces have quite the right curve to actually go together. I'm definitely lacking the edge pieces.

I want to avoiding risking spoilers, so some of my comments here may come off as obscure. Sorry about that. Even when I do not care for a book, I must be cautious to avoid potentially ruining the experience for someone else who might have different taste.

I also have trouble connecting the book I read to the blurb. For example, it says, "Now she [Ariane] must conquer her own demons before she can face this new enemy head-on." Yet Ariane barely appears in the book. Of course the blurb is also in a draft state on NetGalley, I assume, so perhaps that has been reworked for release.

I am a reader who prefers character-driven fiction. The blurb I saw contributed to my expectation that this preference would be met. But that I prefer character and the author didn't write that is not the fault of the author, simply a matter of taste. It does influence my rating. If you don't share this preference, you can consider the book rated at least one star higher.

The story is told through a wide range of perspectives, some of whom appear very minimally. These numerous and frequent shifts make it difficult for me to connect with any of them and, as someone who isn't very good at names, some of them tended to blur together. So I didn't really care much what happened to the characters.

I think the underlying problem, though, was that I really lacked the edge pieces. The world did not make sense to me and none of the names of people, countries, or gods meant a thing. And there wasn't enough information within this book for me to make sense of it. The conclusion left me feeling blah because I didn't care about the characters or have enough context.

Some may wonder why I finished it if it wasn't working. The biggest reason is because I kept hoping the author would pull it all together and everything that confused me would suddenly make sense. Everyone was heading for something, and I thought that it might get put together when that happened. Unfortunately I didn't get the connections I needed. The second reason is because I don't like to write negative reviews without finishing the book just in case. Sometimes an author turns things around in a big way and I like to give them that chance. I read quickly, so I'm not usually investing a week in a book, although this one took me more days than usual.

So my conclusion is that one of three things happened or some combination:

1) Although the blurb on NetGalley appealed to me I was a very wrong reader for this book.
2) The book relies more heavily on others in the series than the author realized. It happens easily that an author's brain fills in information and never recognizes it isn't all on the page.
3) Things just didn't quite come together. I was reading an ARC, so it's possible significant revisions were made after the copy I accessed.

For me it's a 2 star read. If you don't prefer character-driven stories, you can maybe add a star. If you have read and liked others in the world, probably best to ignore me completely.

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The Emerald Queen is a fantasy story. Imagine being a puppet for the gods to play with and use for their own gain. It makes me angry honestly. The story is unique and odd. It is dramatic and intriguing. The characters are flawed and complex. Overall it's a good read. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.

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