The giveaway is closed. The winner of the signed ARC of King's Envoy + a signed bookmark is Ravyn Jazper-Hawke. The winners of the PDF copy are Lana Bradstream and SusanD1408.
Hope you enjoy the review!
*****************Taran Elijah and his apprentice, Cal, are Artesans. Unfortunately, Artesans - with their powerful ability to travel between realms, use their psyche for metaphysical strength/healing, and manipulate the four elements - aren't accepted in Albia, the fourth realm, where Taran, Cal, and Cal's lover, Rienne, live. There, Artesans are seen as little more than witches. In fact, if not for Rienne's status as a popular healer and Taran's close relationship with the innkeeper, Taran and Cal would probably be treated a lot worse.
In spite of that, Taran is eager almost to the point of desperation to advance his training, but he is confident there are no Artesans left in Albia to help him. However, in Andaryon, the fifth realm, Artesans are revered. Taran travels to Andaryon in the hopes that if he challenges an Artesan and wins or forces a draw, he can choose knowledge about the Artesan craft as his prize.
The plan was a dangerous one from the get-go. Taran has to leave the portway between his realm and the fifth realm open, meaning that, while he can quickly get back to the fourth realm, so can anything else that decides to jump into the portway. He knows very little about the fifth realm and the Andaryon's fighting customs (which, of course, works to his disadvantage).
When he gets into a fatal battle with a noble and returns back to his realm with an extremely deadly Staff way beyond his power and understanding, his simple plan to learn more sets a series of destructive actions into motion that will forever change his life and the lives of everyone in the realms - especially the fourth and fifth realm.
I remember exactly when I became emotionally invested in King's Envoy. My heart quickened and my thoughts stopped jumping around. I remember reading the sentences with a greedy quickness, like I would miss the battle if I didn't read fast enough. What I loved most about Taran's battle with the noble was the dreadful and excited feeling the outcome gave me. The moment Taran won that battle, you KNEW the story was about to take an intense turn.
There were two other times where I felt very emotionally invested. The second time came when Rienne connected with Major Sullyan (an integral character you'll meet halfway through the story). They basically had a girl's night just to drink and talk. It's been a while since I've read such a heartwarming and realistic beginning of a true friendship. The third time? At the very end, when the characters were escaping from enemy forces. There I was, way immersed in the escape, when 'The End' snuck up on me and left me eager for more.
The only thing that bothered me was that the Staff, the powerful and mysterious item that Taran took back to his own realm, was basically put on the backburner for the entirety of the novel. I'm certain it will play a vital role in the second and/or third book, but just leaving something that powerful sitting around in the background of all the action didn't sit well with me.
All in all, I thought this was a really great book. While I found it both frustrating and great that the main character was inexperienced and often prone to mistakes, I felt a lot more connected to the secondary characters - namely Rienne, Major Sullyan, Bull, and Robin - and a little sorry for Cal, since there didn't seem to be anything particularly special about him in comparison to the other characters. Than again, it's not like that's a bad thing.
Every time I read a book published by Rhemalda, I am always amazed by the beautiful cover art and art within. Rhemalda did not fail to deliver with King's Envoy. Even more, I absolutely loved the addition of a glossary and maps.
In August 2012, the second book in this series - King's Champion - will be released. King's Envoy ended on such an awesome cliffhanger! Like I said above, 'The End' snuck up on me and left me eager for more.
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