Book Review Wednesday – The King of Anavrea

The King of Anavrea (The Theodoric Saga Book 2) by Rachal Rossano

Amazon Book Description:

A reluctant king, a blind queen, and a marriage that sparked a rebellion…

Ireic Theodoric, King of Anavrea, constantly battles with his council over who will run the country. When the council insists on a treaty with Sardmara, he agrees. However, the treaty quickly becomes an arranged marriage. Ireic offers up himself for the sake of Anavrea. But after he signs, no princess appears.

Lirth Parnan, only daughter of the king of Sardmara, survives alone in a cold, damp tower room. Baron Tor kidnapped her in an attempt to control her father. No one came to claim her. She suspects her father considers her flawed beyond use in his political games. After five years of waiting, her hope of rescue wanes with her health.

After Ireic fights his way into Lirth’s tower, he realizes the depths of her father’s deception. Instead of being an answer to his problems, Lirth creates new ones. The council will not accept her as queen, but Ireic has sworn an oath that he will marry her. His choice could cost him his throne, perhaps his life.

Another of Rachel Rossano’s books, which I picked up because of how much I enjoyed Wren and Duty. I also picked it up because it’s another medieval-esque fantasy romance dealing with an arranged marriage.

Plot – Grade A

I really enjoyed the intrigue in this book. While the romance is important, there is a significant amount of political intrigue occurring due to Ieric and Lirth’s arranged marriage. I thought the twists were well-handled and the dual plot lines melded together well. I was able to follow the plots when they diverged and came back together and the ending tied things up nicely while also opening the door for the next book in the series. This is the second book in the series but the stories stand well on their own with the callbacks to the previous book being woven in without bogging down the pacing or feeling that everything is being retold.

Content – Grade A

There is no language in this book. The crassest it becomes is when the “pure bloodline” fanatics accuse Lirth of being baseborn and call her a wench and sorceress. They also refer to her as being deformed due to her blindness. There is violence and one of the bad guys asks a woman if she enjoys being roughed up but nothing is gratuitous and usually takes place off-screen.

The romance is very sweet in this book. Even though the arranged marriage angle could easily cross the line depending on how it’s written, that is not a factor here. There are kisses and Ieric refers to sharing his bed with his wife but that’s it. Although one time Lirth is walked in on by a male messenger when she is not properly dressed, she’s in her undergarments (stays and shift), and the situation is understandably awkward for her. While Lirth is blind and must rely on touch to see Ieric, the descriptions never come close to being overly sensual. It is all very sweet.

The spiritual content in this book is far more front and center then it was in The Crown of Anavrea due to one character being on a journey to choosing to believe in the Kurios. While the spiritual content and its Christian influence is far more prominent, it didn’t feel like the author was preaching or bashing you over the head with the Gospel. Significantly, a character who is a follower of Kurious and His Son makes the conscious decision to hold back after the searcher doesn’t give the most enthusiastic response. The similarities between Christianity and the religious beliefs present in the book are also addressed in an author’s note by the author. I thought Rossano did an excellent job of presenting the Gospel message in the context of her fantasy world and without making it feel forced or like the searcher was just a caricature who had to come to believe in the Kurios for the sake of allegory. I also appreciated the way she didn’t just present the Gospel message but tackled the hard question of “Why would a God who knows all and controls all make or, rather, allow His followers to suffer?”

Technical – Grade A-

The book was very well-written. The challenge of writing a blind character as a POV character was pulled off quite well. It’s not often that I see a blind character providing the POV, unless an omniscient narrator is in control. I can count the books with blind narrators I’ve read on one hand. But there aren’t any gaffs where sight is used when it shouldn’t be; instead, Lirth relies on touch, smell, and hearing to paint the picture of her surroundings and the people she encounters. What impressed me is that I never felt a disconnect with her.

However, while this book is free of typical typos, there were quite a few missing words, dropped letters occurred once or twice, and sometimes part of a phrase was missing. There was also a place where it was obvious an edit occurred but part of the previous version was left behind. It’s possible that it was simply the kindle version I downloaded where these errors occurred, though. There was also one place where Ieric referred to being crowned for a year but everywhere else it’s been three years. That was a little confusing due to the scene.

Final Grade – A or 5 Stars

Overall, I enjoyed The King of Anavrea and I eagerly await the next time we return to The Theodoric Saga. I loved the unconventional heroine and how her relationship develops with the hero in the midst of political intrigue and the difficulties of being a less than perfect royal. I also enjoyed the spiritual aspect of this story and how realistically it was woven into the plot without being a hand wave or in the reader’s face. There were more technical errors this time than what I usually see with Rossano’s work but not to the point of truly detracting from the story, although some editors might twitch in certain places. I would recommend this book for fans of clean, sweet romance in a Christian medieval-esque fantasy and those who enjoy fantasy with political intrigue and a strong Christian message. Recommended for reader ages 15 and up.

The King of Anavrea is available through Kindle, iTunes, and paperback.

Next Week: Honor: Second Novel of Rhynan by Rachel Rossano

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