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Review: Deception's Princess by Esther M. Friesner

Monday, June 2, 2014





Deception's Princess
Esther M. Friesner


Series: Deception's Princess #1
Genre: HistoricalFantasy
Hardback: 336 Pages
Publication: April 22, 2014
by Random House BFYR




Synopsis

Some lies lead to true adventure. . . .

Maeve, princess of Connacht, was born with her fists clenched. And it's her spirit and courage that make Maeve her father's favorite daughter. But once he becomes the High King, powerful men begin to circle--it's easy to love the girl who brings her husband a kingdom.

Yet Maeve is more than a prize to be won, and she's determined to win the right to decide her own fate. In the court's deadly game of intrigue, she uses her wits to keep her father's friends and enemies close--but not too close. When she strikes up an unlikely friendship with the son of a visiting druid, Maeve faces a brutal decision between her loyalty to her family and to her own heart.


Review
◆ A copy was provided by Random House for review ◆

I like how the story starts with a younger Maeve and follows her as she grows and learns from her experiences. It's been a while since I read a book does this. Initially, time moves at a more rapid pace, as the focus of the story is on an older Maeve, but it didn't feel rushed at all. And looking back on the story as a whole, I can say that the parts of Maeve's childhood that we learn about are important to understanding what happens in the present.

In some ways, Maeve reminded me of Aileana from Elizabeth May's The Falconer. Both are high-born women who are braver than their stations allow them to express and must present a false front to society. Both turn away unwanted advances by men interested in their dowries. And both know that their fathers expect them to fulfill their duty through marriage. I was afraid that Maeve would allow her emotions to rule her like Aileana does, but Maeve has a cooler head on her shoulders and is better able to follow societal conventions. As she notes, when she cannot use a son's weapons, she uses a daughter's wits to fight.

I love how the family plays an important role in the story. Maeve obviously gets along well with her mother, and her father maintains a strong presence in her life. In fact, I'd opt to say that Maeve's family is more involved in her life than Odran, her friend and romantic interest, and equally influential in shaping the young woman she becomes. It's interesting to watch how her relationship with her family and others around her changes over time as she matures into a young woman determined to forge a future for herself. The most beautiful and poignant scenes, however, definitely go to Odran (with her friend Kelan coming in a close second). There is so much complexity to the young lovers' relationship because of who they are and what their fathers expect of them. I don't want to go into too many details for fear of spoilers, but know that there was much smiling, giggling, and near-bawling on my part.

The writing is beautiful and filled with vivid descriptions that bring the story to life. It isn't over elaborate or embellished. Rather, the key is in the carefully chosen details that Friesner gives us to portray a clear picture of characters, events, and the passage of time. These weave together amidst wonderful dialogue that give the characters life and personality, at the same time showing their relationships with one another. Select details further bring the culture to life through the peoples' customs and superstitions.

In a book with so many beautifully crafted elements, what really stands out to me is the emotions this book made me feel. While good books make me feel for the characters, the great ones make me feel things myself. Alternately, it made me laugh and smile, rage with barely contained anger, and cry tears of despair. It made me wonder if there was any hope at all for Maeve's happiness. There is so much complexity in Maeve's life, and I admire how she burns brightly with hope in the midst of all this darkness.

While Deception's Princess has historical roots with Maeve being an Irish princess, it also has an appeal for fantasy readers, and I would recommend this to readers of both genres with enjoy a book with a strong female protagonist. This has been one of my favorite reads of the year. I will definitely be on the lookout for the next installment in Maeve's adventures!




Additional Information
Series
  1. Deception's Princess
  2. Untitled







Similar Books
  • The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill
  • The Falconer by Elizabeth May
  • Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce
  • Snow-Walker by Catherine Fisher

Content
  • Kissing
  • Violence

10 comments on "Review: Deception's Princess by Esther M. Friesner"
  1. Maeve was one of my fav character names when I first got hooked on Fantasy, and it's been a long while since I've come across it. The Irish aspects of this story have definitely piqued my interest. Great review!

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    1. Yeah, seeing the name Maeve caught my attention when I picked up this book. I don't see it much nowadays. Thanks, Carmel!

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  2. So many YA books, especially fantasy, don't have anything to do with families, killing them off or not having them in the book at all. I always appreciate books that include a close family unit. Plus, throw in gorgeous writing and I think I'll have to check it out!

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    1. I agree, Mary. There aren't enough fantasy books with a close family. I hope you enjoy Deception's Princess! :)

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  3. I'm SO glad you liked this. It's at the top of my list of new YA fantasies to check out, and I completely agree about what a book is able to make me FEEL being hugely important. If I feel nothing for the characters or their plights, what's the point? If I feel everything . . . those are my favorites. I want characters to feel like real people with real problems, and I want to care about what happens to them. It sounds like this book has an excellent chance of being that kind of book. Great review, Kris ;)

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

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    1. I agree. I have to be able to feel for the characters and their situations if I'm really going to get into a book. I hope you enjoy Deception's Princess, Jessica! It's a fantastic book! :)

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  4. The cover looks like Merida from that disney movie. Good review. ;)

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    1. I've seen a lot of comments on that. I haven't seen Brave, but I really love this book :)

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  5. LOVE fantasy and it's awesome when we get to see a character grow up!! It doesn't happen often. It's like the backstory is part of the story.

    Lovely review :)

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    1. Yeah, it's great how we get to see important events in Maeve's childhood as she grows it. It builds her characters while giving us the opportunity to see how she grew into the young woman that she is in the present.

      Thanks, Christina!

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