3 Stars: A Good Read
Hardback: 400 Pages
Publication: January 10, 2013 by Dial
Buy it: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Book Depository
There is a new king on the throne of Tildor. Currents of political unrest sweep the country as two warring crime families seek power, angling to exploit the young Crown's inexperience. At the Academy of Tildor, the training ground for elite soldiers, Cadet Renee de Winter struggles to keep up with her male peers. But when her mentor, a notorious commander recalled from active duty to teach at the Academy, is kidnapped to fight in illegal gladiator games, Renee and her best friend Alec find themselves thrust into a world rife with crime, sorting through a maze of political intrigue, and struggling to resolve what they want, what is legal, and what is right.
This book wasn't at all what I expected. Taking into account the title of the book and the cover, I thought that this would be an adventure book that boys and girls alike would enjoy. However, this seems to be targeted more towards girls who like to see a strong-willed, passionate heroine that does her best to prove that she can keep up with the boys instead of taking the role of the delicate lady. Mostly, this book seems to be about Renee befriending her commanding officer and going off to rescue him when he gets in a hot mess.
The dialogue is strong. It flows naturally, and it is interesting. It's a great way to get to know the characters and how well they get along. The action and setting isn't developed as well. Most of the focus is on dialogue and little is dedicated to detailing the characters' surroundings, and I had a hard time picturing the setting and what the characters were doing. Most of the focus of the story is on the characters, which lessens the impact of the lack of details on setting and action. I went into this book expecting a lot of action and intrigue, however, and was disappointed to see little development in these areas.
Mostly, the characters fell rather flat for me. None of them seem to grow much over the course of the novel except for Alec, and his change in behavior is sudden and inexplicable. Renee is a headstrong girl and makes many rash decisions based off her emotions instead of thinking about what is best for the Crown that she's determined to serve. This isn't bad if you can relate to her. I think that people who liked Rachel in C.J. Redwine's Defiance will also like Renee. Me, I saw a girl who plows through everything head on without thinking much about the consequences and who takes forever to learn from her mistakes because of her obstinacy. She doesn't seem to be officer material, which is precisely what Servants of the Crown (what she's training to be) are supposed to be. It's only good fortune and good comrades that have kept her alive thus far.
I have a hard time picturing the characters' relationships. There seems to be romance in this book, but there are several guys of interest and I don't know who precisely Renee likes. The one guy she kisses is not the one I expected, and the relationship doesn't seem to go anywhere. Still, there is potential for future romantic development if a sequel comes out. I would also like to see more of Diam, Commander Savoy's younger brother and my favorite character. He's a sweet boy and charms most everyone he meets.
Overall, I did enjoy reading this novel for the most part. The plot was interesting, and there are several surprises in store regarding some of the characters. The leader of the Family isn't the kind of man I was expecting, and Renee's wittiness in coming up with a plan to save Savoy and in presenting it to the appropriate authorities is commendable. Readers who enjoyed Defiance by C.J. Redwine and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas may also enjoy this book.
An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes
Alex Lidell is a YA fantasy writer and author of ABNA Finalist The Cadet of Tildor. She fell in love with reading when the school librarian put Tamora Pierce’s Alanna into her hands. Beyond writing, Alex is also a photographer, a horseback rider, and a paramedic. The latter two go hand in hand more often than one would like. She is trying to self-teach herself and her horse to sword-fight.
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