First cab off the rank in my summer review series is Fiona McIntosh‘s Royal Exile and Tyrant’s Blood. The rather brutal tale of a prince whose family is killed by an invading barbarian and his attempts to regain his throne, Royal Exile and Tyrant’s Blood include plenty of mystery, secrets and magic.
I am admittedly cheating a little and clumping both these books together. I first tried to read Royal Exile when I was about 15. I never finished it and I did not remember liking it. Now years later this seemed odd to me. There are very few books I have picked up that I have not finished and I had read McIntosh’s Percheron series which I absolutely loved. Determined to finish Royal Exile and also read its sequel Tyrant’s Blood which I had bought and was still sitting on my bookshelf unread, I sat down and read. Again, it did not seem to grab me.
The prose is lacklustre and some of the characters prone to personality switches like that *clicks* but as much as I tried to put it down and move onto something perhaps better written, I found that I could not. The story itself is engaging, full of tension and always making you turn the next page to find out what happens. Despite not really being able to establish any more than a vague interest in the characters themselves I was still fully engaged in the plot. I now see why I did not like these books the first time around because they seem to me to be less than McIntosh’ best (for that I recommend you read her Percheron series). That said, the writing improved as the books progressed, it just took her a while to warm up.
Although the execution may have been lacking the storytelling was engaging, I think perhaps despite the sometimes brutal imagery I am over the target age and cannot appreciate the story as fully. And just so you don’t think I’m hating on McIntosh, I’ll do a bonus review of her Percheron series sometime in the next few months because Fiona McIntosh is a brilliant storyteller but these books were not her best.
Overall rating: 5.5/10 (This is not bad, I just set the bar really high)
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