This book is SO good. As I was reading it I had a lot to say about it, but now that I’m actually writing it up I’m struggling. I will try to make this coherent.
Disclaimer: I am not a fantasy reader. I’m not opposed to magic and other worlds in my books, but it’s not what I gravitate towards and not something I read regularly. With that said, if you read fantasy regularly maybe you won’t be as blown away by this book as I was. I’m just in no place to judge it against others in the genre.
Warning: There is puppy disembowelment and child torture described in this book. These items would usually disqualify a book from even being on my reading list, and yet I give the book an A grade – make of that what you will.
Cat Fisa, the Kingmaker (a prophesy), has extreme magical powers and is on the run from her estranged royal family. Griffin, known by his title Beta Sinta, is a commoner who has recently helped his sister take the throne, and he needs magical people to help him keep the throne secure. Griffin kidnaps Cat and tries to make her a part of his fighting team as well as ‘claim’ her romantically while she fights him to go back into hiding. 2/3s (?) of the story is a ‘road trip’ of sorts from where Griffin finds Cat to the capitol city, with many roadblocks along the way.
There are three territories within this world, and each has been ruled by a magical royal family for generations. There is constant fighting within the families over who will be Alpha, to the point of infanticide and fratricide being considered normal. Cat has been raised in this atmosphere and escaped six years prior to the start of the story. She has been in hiding with a traveling circus acting as a soothsayer, because her greatest magical power is that she can tell if a person is lying when they speak. She has some other fun powers too, like being able to absorb the magic of any magical beings she touches, as well as healing abilities.
Griffin’s family does not have magical powers, but they were able to take over the Sinta territory by rallying the other commoners and physically overthrowing the magical rulers. (It is convenient that Griffin, while he doesn’t have any magical powers himself, *does* have immunity from bad magic applying to him). He puts his sister on the throne as Alpha and takes the Beta position. The political ideas put forward are not particularly nuanced, but they are an interesting contrast. The magical rulers have all been out for themselves and completely disregarded the commoners but for the taxes they can bring in. Griffin’s family wants to improve lives and their first big steps are helping homeless children and building hospitals. See, definitely not nuanced, but I did enjoy some of the discussion between Cat, who thinks this is all crazy dream talk, and Griffin, who truly believes they can create a better way of doing things.
There are Greek Gods involved as well as dragons and lots and lots of magic. I loved all the action. I decided to buy in to this alternate universe and say ‘sure, the battle is hopeless…until a God intervenes!’ and just roll with it. Cat directly speaks with the Gods, although even she does not completely understand it, whereas Griffin thinks about them in the abstract and prior to meeting Cat they had no bearing on his day to day life. The pacing was excellent and the action just kept going with quiet, personal moments in between. Cat constantly rides to Griffin’s rescue and he loves her for it. He’s a big warrior Alpha (and yes, he does kidnap her and talk about ‘claiming’ her – but in a marriage sense, not a sexual sense), but he 100% respects her for who she is, and he is very patient with her.
There’s a slightly annoying back and forth with Cat where she is drawn to Griffin, but she wants to protect him from herself and her mother. It amused me because the ‘I’m so dangerous, I’m no good for you’ line is usually the hero’s sentiment, so it was nice to have it reversed – but I found it just as annoying now as ever.
Malin pointed me towards this book and pointed out when it was on sale. Money VERY well spent. The next book in the trilogy – a continuation of this story about the same characters – came out last week, and I am next in line for it from the library. I can’t wait!