Book Review Wednesday: The Seahorse Legacy

The Seahorse Legacy: Book Three of the Eyes of E’veria by Serena Chase

Amazon Book Description:

a Pirate, bound by a centuries-old oath — a Knight, determined to prove her calling — a Legacy, demanding surrender

As Keeper of the Seahorse Legacy, Cazien de Pollis is a King among pirates, divinely appointed to dispense justice on the seas. Bound by the sacred oath of a long-dead ancestor, he must fulfill a contract to wed the green-eyed Oracle’s Daughter named therein—or risk losing everything he and his people hold dear. But at nineteen, with the identity of his betrothed only recently revealed, Cazien resents the contract—and the urgency within him to see it satisfied.

Erielle de Gladiel returned from the quest for the Remedy, changed. Not only are her formerly-blue eyes now a brilliant shade of green, but she must don gloves to hide inky evidence that her prophetically-bestowed title, the Oracle’s Daughter, demands more from her than the task already completed. Erielle’s dearest-held dream is realized when she is knighted by her King, but unbeknownst to her, that very honor jeopardizes the prophesied purpose to which she and Cazien have been called.

Just as Cazien summons the courage to collect his bride, dark rumors and darker deeds crawl up the coasts, calling its guardians, the Seahorse Pirates, into action—and Cazien away from Erielle. But even though the Oracle’s Daughter knows nothing of the contract to which she has been consigned, Cazien’s enemies have somehow learned of his interest in Erielle. And if they reach her before his ancestor’s weighty oath is executed, the Seahorse Legacy will be forfeited . . . and darkness will be given reign.

The third book in this series-within-a series, The Seahorse Legacy begins an epic re-imagining of the classic Grimm fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses which will conclude in Eyes of E’veria, Book 4: The Sunken Realm, coming in 2015.

*This Review May Contain Minor Spoilers*

I bought this book because I loved the first two books in the series. I was also eager to see two minor characters take the stage.

Plot – A-

The plot of The Seahorse Legacy is based on the Grimm fairytale of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. The clearest reference to the fairytale is in a dream Erielle has where she is dancing until the soles of her slippers are worn through. There is also a quest to find out who is responsible for a series of disappearances in the middle of the night and rescue the victims if they can. The ties weren’t as clear this time as they were with the first two books but that didn’t really detract from the plot. However, there were several times when the plot was dragged out due to stupidity on part of Cazien and Erielle, especially Erielle. The ending is more of a cliffhanger this time around and the plot definitely cannot stand alone without its companion.

Content – B-

This book is not nearly as clean as the previous offerings. There is a lot of bloody violence. Erielle stabs a man in the thigh and then cuts off his hand. He conveniently dies of blood loss before he can be questioned. A character is killed offscreen but the way she is found is a bit gruesome. Another female character is whipped, beaten, and then branded. This punishment seemed gratuitous to me because it was almost as if she were being punished by the author because of her previous actions.

I felt like I was reading completely different characters this time around and it wasn’t a good thing. Eirelle was a bit brash and headstrong in the previous books, mainly due to her obsession with being the first female knight, but now she’s arrogant, rude, unlikeable, and more than a little foolish. She comes across as a stereotypical feminist rather than a girl who can grow into a strong woman without bashing men. I was more than disgusted with her because she doesn’t grow as a character. Instead, everyone is out to get her and the moment she starts to show some sense it is immediately squashed and blame is turned back on the men in her life and work. She doesn’t want to be seen as anything but a knight but she also reminds people that she is a Regent’s daughter. She was portrayed as intelligent and seeing things others didn’t in the last book but this time she buries her head in the sand and refuses to acknowledge anything. Her redemption is not shown and I dearly hope that Eirelle is vastly improved on in the next book because this spoiled, arrogant brat is not interesting. King Jarryn who was so wise and so likeable in the last two books has been replaced by an arrogant and antagonistic man who shows no forgiveness or trust to Cazien who is SUPPOSED to be an ally. He makes such a big deal about Cazien being a pirate and therefore not a man of honor that I was taken aback. Jarryn is the one who loses face in these encounters and feels completely out of character. His queen excuses as his soft heart but I had to think about it and remember that Eirelle had essentially taken the place of his missing daughter until Rynnaia was found to even begin to justify his reactions. I wish someone had pointed that out in the book. Julien, Eirelle’s brother, was a bit out of character too, especially toward the end where he believes that his sister fooled around with their host. Cazien, well, we didn’t get to know him well enough in the last two books for there to be an obvious dramatic shift in character, but of everyone he was the most likeable and sympathetic character.

There is sensuality in this book almost from the very beginning. Starting in chapter Two, when Jarryn challenges Cazien as to whether he would disgrace Eirelle to force her to fulfill the Legacy Oath. There is also a scene where some pre-teen boys are peering through a hole in the wall of a brothel. There is an absolute obsession with mentioning Eirelle’s purity. The romantic aspect is replaced with Eirelle being suspected of being a doxy. The strange part is she’s too innocent to know that a girl at a tavern in the seedy part of town was one of the ladies of the night but then she takes insult at implications that she’s not virtuous and then after an encounter where a man proposes she indulge in a dalliance with him, she doesn’t understand when a foiled kidnapping attempt where the men are being very straightforward about wanting to despoil her results in a knight asking if she has been harmed. It didn’t make any sense and almost seemed like there two Erielles. One who was aware of the seedy side and one who was so innocent as to be ridiculous. But then again she also blindly ignores the fact that the men are after her and not the Ryn. Even though this is not the first time they tried to kidnap her. There is also a rumor put about that she was ruined by their host, which even Julien suspected was true, even though that is not what happened. A female character is also described as being groped while she is tied to a ship’s mast for a whipping. The only reason a female character wasn’t raped was due to the author carrying her out of that trouble at the last minute. There is also a wedding scene that smacks of dubious consent and being under the influence, which I hope is addressed in the next book. The language used in this book is also tied with the sensuality. We moved from hints at a woman having nighttime customers to a madame whose girls serve as “entertainment” to the use of doxy and whore and receiving a harlot’s brand.

Spirituality is at a low compared to the previous books. Eirelle who is supposed to have pledged herself to the First when she was a child doesn’t really reach out to Him this time around. The Legacy is a way by which Cazien can follow the will of the First, which was interesting. But he too is fighting the First’s will. I did like that there wasn’t as much gasping in shock when the First spoke to the characters because the First doesn’t speak to them in their minds. Instead, the characters are on a journey where they know His will and now they have to actually choose to follow it the way they are supposed to, which I liked because there was a more obvious struggle and it avoids the feel of Deus Ex Machina. I do think that Eirelle in particular will need more attention to her relationship with the First.

Technical – A-

The book was well-edited. There were only a couple of punctuation errors. However, there were a few occasions where I felt like I was being told the exact same information that I had already gone through with the other character. As I mentioned earlier, this book relied more on contrived difficulties to keep the plot stretched out. In particular, Eirelle’s vexing foolishness regarding her midnight writings (I’m not going to take them to anyone until halfway through the book  when my hand is forced because it HAS to be a far off prophecy). It was excusable the first couple of times but once it continued, it took on the feel of deliberate self-sabotage. Another contrived difficulty was that Rynnaia’s sense of honor kept her from undoing the block on Eirelle’s thoughts, which allowed a particular crisis to take place. It felt like Chase lost her unique voice and writing style in this book and that proved to be a distraction to me as a reader.

Final Grade – B or 4 Stars

Overall, the book was likeable and I do plan to buy the next book so I can find out what happens and if the characters are redeemed. However, I was very disappointed that the excellence and subtlety Chase showed in handling difficult situations in the first two books was conspicuously absent, especially in regards to sensuality. It felt like she was trying to mimic other authors instead staying true to her own writing style and this book definitely suffered because of it. I finished this book and asked myself, “What happened?” Something I hate to experience. I’m still willing to give the next book a chance but I sincerely hope she goes back to her original voice and writing style. I recommend this book for fans of reimagined fairytales. Parents, be prepared to discuss the material covered in this book with your older teens. Recommended for ages 17 and up.

The Seahorse Legacy is available through Kindle.

Next – Toxic (The Trap Series Book 1) by Vicki V. Lucas

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