Monday, 20 January 2020

Book Review: A Throne of Swans by Katharine Corr and Elizabeth Corr

In a world where the flightless are servants and the flighted rule, when 17-year-old Aderyn inherits the role of Protector of Atratys, it's vital that nobody knows her biggest secret - she hasn't transformed into a swan since watching her mother be torn apart by hawks years ago. But a trip to the royal court brings intrigue, threats, and the need to do whatever it takes to save the land she is sworn to protect.

Oh, WOW. This is a stunning high fantasy with a brilliant narrator, which had me glued to it while reading. (It's now 4:45am, I woke up at around 3:30 and was too desperate to find out how it ended to go back to sleep!) I love fantasy with political intrigue at its heart and this is a superb example of that - early on Aderyn is warned to trust nobody, and it's clear as the novel progresses through many twists and turns that this is sensible advice. I found the characters to be really compelling and layered, with their motivations eventually making sense but a lot of them being VERY well-hidden. There's also a superb world built here, in which the flightless are treated differently by different rulers but are in general far below the flighted, to the point where even the touch of a noble causes them pain. Aderyn is a wonderful heroine who's clearly trying to do what's right for the kingdom, and in particular for the people of Atratys, although she's distracted both by the hunt for her mother's killers and the need to stay alive in what quickly becomes a really dangerous situation.

It's hard to say too much about the characters without giving anything away, but there's a huge amount of well-developed ones here, from Aderyn's cousin Aron - also flightless due to injury, and therefore without a claim to the throne which should have been his to inherit - and his sister Odette, trying to stay out of court intrigue, to Siegfried, Odette's betrothed, Lucien, son of one of Aderyn's family's closest advisers but loyal to the land of Atratys above his Protector, and Letya, Aderyn's lady's maid and closest friend. And then there's the cruel king, who seems to have purposes of his own in mind for Ateryn...

Despite its length, I raced through this one thanks to captivating writing and a well-paced plot which includes some great scenes as the book builds to a stunning climax. I also appreciated that it's a satisfying ending for a novel in its own right, while doing a good job of setting up the sequel which I'm hugely anticipating now.

Massive recommendation to fans of awesome fantasy novels.

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