Monday, 22 April 2013

Book Review: The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

Ailsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she's impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father's court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power--or the magic--to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?

--image and summary from Goodreads.com

The Rose Throne is the story of two princesses--Ailsbet of Rurik and Marlissa of Weirland--whose stories intertwine in a dangerous game of politics.

First, I'll start off with the good stuff: this author is not afraid to make you sad; the court life in Rurik is truly bloodthirsty. I got quite attached to a few characters, only to be stunned when their lives ended in a sad display of a strong, tyrannical king's power. It takes guts to make the danger real for the reader, and the author should be applauded for that. However, this is a double-edged sword, as I will get into further on into my review.

As well, her writing style is very easy to read and flows well. There were a few instances were the same phrases would be used repeatedly, but for the most part the writing suited the purpose of the novel.

The concepts of the two different types of magic--taweyer for for men and neweyer for females, was interesting and original. But I felt it was never completely explored. The author would say someone used one or the other magics to accomplish something without fully explaining how.

However, there was a lot of telling instead of showing. While I understood the two main protagonists, I could not fall in love with them or really care much for their situations. At times their motivations seemed to change on a dime and did not appear consistent, and without understanding them through the use of showing, I grappled with this. Instead, I became attached to minor characters, characters who had little use in the story but to die at the mercy of Ailsbet's father.

What disappointed me most was the romance. It was mainly between Marlissa and another character whom, in my personal opinion, seemed better suited for Ailsbet. The romance between Marlissa and her suitor was developed far too quickly, as other reviewers have said, and it was not very original. There was another man Marlissa was supposed to have married, a character I had high hopes for and whose ending left me with a sour taste in my mouth. I felt he was thrown away for the convenience of Marlissa's happy ending.

If the ending could be called an ending; it felt more as though the novel was cut off suddenly. If this is the start of a trilogy, that could be atoned for. However, as a standalone novel, it leaves me feeling disgruntled and snappish. I'm in the middle of university exams, and I was hoping for something that offered a little more closure, and a few less thrown-away characters. The main threat of the novel was resolved and I felt like shouting at someone to just kill the evil king already and be done with it. But nobody did, and I can't understand why--the simplest solution was completely ignored.

The last page, with its complete focus on Marlissa and her true love, made me feel quite ill.

I have no hard feelings towards the author and wish her the best in her future writings. If she ever reads this I hope she doesn't see this as a personal attack. I'm sure she's a lovely person and an awesome writer, but I have to be honest and say that this book is simply not for me. As these things are all subjective, I will not be giving it a star rating. I hate posting more negative reviews, but I suppose that's just part of the blogging business. :(

I would like to thank Egmont USA and NetGalley for sending me a free copy to review. Their generosity has in no way affected the content of this review.