Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Review: The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison

The Rose Throne (The Rose Throne, #1)
Richly-imagined fantasy romance from the author of Princess and the Hound, a tale of two princesses--one with magic, one with none--who dare seek love in a world where real choice can never be theirs. For fans of Megan Whalen Turner, Catherine Fisher, and Cassandra Clare. 
Ailsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she's impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father's court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power--or the magic--to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?
Publisher: Egmont USA
Publication date: May 14, 2013
Kat's Review
I like the premise of this story: two princesses from different kingdoms feeling the weight of responsibility as their destinies get decided for them by their fathers.  The idea that however little official power they are seen to have, their alliances could indeed become the catalyst for great change.  Mix in a little bit of magic, and this series has a lot of potential. 
I'm not sure that all that potential was met in the first book.  I found the story to be a bit slow to get moving, and some of the character development either dragged or happened all at once.  Once I understood the magic, some things became clearer, but at the beginning I felt lost.  In short, women are carriers of one type of magic, and men of another.  Some people display the opposite type, which is forbidden.  It's believed that they can steal magic, and as a result are sentenced to death.  The names and descriptions of the different types of magic aren't really explained at the beginning, so it took me a while to figure it all out, and I'm still not entirely certain that I'm explaining it in full. 
What I liked:  The court intrigue, the forbidden love that develops between two of the characters, the clandestine missions to bring those with the "wrong" type of magic to safety.  I'm curious to see which princess will be the one to fulfill the prophecy, and whether the two will eventually work together, or if they will become enemies over time.  There are many peripheral characters whom I could see playing bigger roles in future books, and it will be interesting to see where their stories take them.
What I found frustrating:  I felt that the characters were never developed to their full potential.  That's the danger sometimes of the first book in a series, when there's so much back story to get out there and then so much setting up for future books.  In this case, I'm still not certain after reading the first book that I understand everything I should.  I found myself confused at times, while at other times things moved slowly.  With better pacing and some clarification on certain points, the book would have been a smoother read.
Rating: Worth A Look
This book, and this series, still has a lot of potential.  I would like to see the two princesses fully come into their powers and begin shaping their own destinies.  The setting is everything a fairy tale setting should be, with castles and moors and scheming characters at court, and the stage is set for action to come.  Hopefully the next books in the series will deliver more action, more clarity, and stronger character development. 
I was provided a complimentary copy of this title from NetGalley & Edgmont in return for an honest review. 

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