The Heir (The Royal Three Trilogy, Book One), by Benet Stoen
Hi you beautiful bookish people, how have you been?
I’m happy to announce that as of this month, my partner and I will be moving home, so please bear with me if there are any gaps between reviews over the next month or so.
Today, I’m excited to be reviewing The Heir, the first book in a new fantasy series, by author Benet Sloen.
Without further ado, lets dive in.
The Heir is a fantasy novel set in the land of Lavdia. Finn, a young physician living in a small border village is arrested on The Mother Queen Andromeda’s authority. Much to his surprise, the young queen demands his help, to take down a mutual enemy, Artemis. As her sister’s twisted advisor, Artemis seeks to eradicate the land of those with innate magical ability, otherwise known as Wielders. Together, Finn and Queen Andromeda must find a way to save the wielders and Andromeda’s sister before it’s too late.
While reading The Heir, four main characters stood out to me: Finn, Queen Andromeda, Angelus, and Artemis.
Finn, a young physician, has been helping Wielders reach a sanctuary to escape the cruelty of those who would do them harm. He is introduced as a kindly young man, who seeks positive change. Both patient and honest, he is determined to help others in need. Furthermore, his personal journey sees his sense of morality shift, from a rigid black and white view of morality at the start, to one that considers broader factors in how people act.
Queen Andromeda (The Mother Queen) initially appeared harsh and cruel, however, her character was further revealed over time, offering up a more complex personality and backstory than I had originally imagined. She seemed like a prisoner in her role, as indicated by her own words: ‘I was born in shackles. I just want to be free.’ As the story progressed, fragments of her tragic and tormented past surfaced, explaining so much of Andromeda’s behaviour, particularly how she pushes away anyone that shows they care for her. It was clear that as time progressed, the level of pain she had endured in her lifetime had taken a heavy toll on her, one that deeply affected her mental state and led to her closing up and putting on a front for others.
Angelus acted as Queen Andromeda’s personal bodyguard. It was hard to get a read on him as he was a rather blunt and private man, who seldom spoke when he was present in scenes. He had a serious demeanour and felt rather mysterious to me as a character as I barely learned anything about him or his past. He had an obvious affection for Queen Andromeda and was devoted to keeping her safe and carrying out her wishes.
Finally, we come to Artemis, royal advisor to Andromeda’s sister Queen, Morgeoux. I instantly disliked him. His smug and condescending presence got under my skin, as did his unusually calm demeanour, which hid his darker motivations from plain sight. His brutal actions over the course of the story proved he was not a man to be trifled with, however, I had no respect for him, as I did for Finn and his more noble actions.
The Heir was a bit different to the books I usually read. While fantasy is one of my favourite genres, the scope of this book was much smaller than expected. The story was mainly set within a few rooms of a single castle, and centred around a plot, which seemed to shift from being about the Wielders and their rights, to saving Andromeda’s sister from Artemis’ dark influence. That being said, there were several things I really liked about this book.
- The characters were portrayed well, with strong personalities. Queen Andromeda, in particular, made a strong first impression on me and engaged my emotional senses.
- The character’s differing perspectives (those of Finn and Queen Andromeda) allowed me to understand the story’s main conflict from multiple angles. Each main character believed that their actions were fully justified, in order to reach their goal, even if the other disagreed.
- The author’s writing style was very professional. They had a firm grasp on the craft of writing and to me, seemed like a natural storyteller.
- There were several good twists throughout the book, especially relating to Queen Andromeda’s past, that I didn’t see coming.
- The story is separated neatly into three more or less equal parts, which I thought was a nice touch.
- The ending was surprising and had my heart in my throat as my expectations were shattered.
I don’t have anything negative to say about this book, except that at times, I felt it could do with more action and less summarised narrative.
Two particular quotes stood out to me while reading The Heir.
1) ‘She was risking everything by trusting this man. But it took trust to gain trust.’
2) ‘They hide behind a cause to justify their actions.’
This second quote felt especially relevant to our own modern world as a plethora of narcissistic people pretend to support various causes, while trying to assuage feelings of guilt, with some committing atrocious acts in the name of support.
Overall, The Heir was a masterfully crafted piece of creative writing, with complex characters and a tension-fuelled plot. There were many unexpected twists which caught me off guard, yet which made the book even more enjoyable. Key themes included family, secrets, loss, and magic.
My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: lovers of fantasy series, with dark secrets, royals, and unexpected twists.
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Wishing you a wonderful week,