This was the third (complete) Richelle Mead series I read in the past two months. It was interesting and different from her other two series and I enjoyed it a lot, but not as much as the others. Probably because the heroine in this story annoyed the hell out of me – but I’ll talk more about that later.
I was a little hesitant to pick this series up because after reading about vampires, demons and succubi, a book about fairies and shamans sounded a little too fluffy for me. However, with just a few pages into the first book, I realized that this was obviously not the case. The fairies in this stories (AKA “The Shining Ones” or “gentries”, as they liked to be called) were not the tiny Tinkerbell pixies I imagined them to be – they resembled humans except they have to ability to wield magic and can live up to centuries. Most of them are pretty badass fighters too. I enjoyed reading about the different gentry kingdoms and the interaction between the human world and the fairy world (AKA the Otherworld).
Unlike the other Richelle Mead series I read, this one is composed of 4 books instead of her usual 6:
- Storm Born
- Thorn Queen
- Iron Crowned
- Shadow Heir
Here’s a brief summary of the first book from the author’s website:
Eugenie Markham is a powerful shaman who does a brisk trade banishing spirits and fey who cross into the mortal world. Mercenary, yes, but a girl’s got to eat. Her most recent case, however, is enough to ruin her appetite. Hired to find a teenager who has been taken to the Otherworld, Eugenie comes face to face with a startling prophecy–one that uncovers dark secrets about her past and claims that Eugenie’s first-born will threaten the future of the world as she knows it.
Now Eugenie is a hot target for every ambitious demon and Otherworldy ne’er-do-well, and the ones who don’t want to knock her up want her dead. Eugenie handles a Glock as smoothly as she wields a wand, but she needs some formidable allies for a job like this. She finds them in Dorian, a seductive fairy king with a taste for bondage, and Kiyo, a gorgeous shape-shifter who redefines animal attraction. But with enemies growing bolder and time running out, Eugenie realizes that the greatest danger is yet to come, and it lies in the dark powers that are stirring to life within her…
Below are my thoughts on each book. As usual they are FULL OF SPOILERS, so stop reading now if you’re thinking of reading the series:
In this first book the readers are introduced to the three worlds (the human world, Otherworld and Underworld) and the roles they play. The main character, Eugenie is a powerful shaman who hunts down gentries who cross over to the human world. Her job mostly requires her to stay in the human world, until she accepts a job where she is forced to go to the Otherworld to retrieve Jasmine, a fourteen year old girl who was taken by Aeson (the king who rules the Alder Land). During her trip to the Otherworld she learns her true heritage as the Storm King’s daughter and hears about a prophecy which foretells that the Storm King’s first grandson would continue his quest to conquer the human world. Naturally, this places her in danger – gentries all over are coming to either rape her with the hope of fathering the powerful heir, or to kill her to prevent the prophecy from coming true. Fortunately she meets Dorian, the Oak King, and he agrees to help her on her mission to retrieve Jasmine. Aside from that, he teaches her how to control her magic and makes her see that gentries are not as evil as she was led to believe.
This book really drew me in. I thought it was a great start for this series. I never thought I’d be interested in fairies or shape shifters but I loved reading about all the magic and the gentry politics. I enjoyed this book a lot but I must say that I wasn’t really a big fan of Eugenie from the start. Sure she’s strong and stands for her beliefs, but she’s also whiny, selfish and a bit too slutty for my taste.
I did like the little love triangle in this book. I liked seeing the contrasting personalities of the two dudes – Kiyo is rough and untamed and liked to be in on the action, while Dorian is more refined and charming. (He’s also ambitious and conniving and managed to trick Eugenie into claiming a kingdom that she didn’t want, but c’mon. Is that such a bad thing? He gave her a freaking kingdom and she gets angry at him for that?) The two guys are interesting but if I were Eugenie I would have dropped Kiyo from the very beginning and just settled down with Dorian. Kiyo was alluring at first and they had a lot to talk about, but after Dorian’s first appearance I was pretty much hooked on him. I didn’t really like Kiyo after the first few chapters, there was just too much mystery about him. And the fact that he has a child with the queen of Willow Land makes things even more complicated. I was hoping things between him and Eugenie would end after he “died” during the battle at the Alder land, but Eugenie somehow managed to bring him back, tch. I would have preferred it if she just left him in the Underworld and just stayed by Dorian’s side.
After becoming queen of Thorn Land, Eugenie travels back and forth the Otherworld and the human world to perform her royal duties. She finds herself confused because she now has to protect and care for the same people she viewed as her enemies not so long ago. Thankfully Dorian is there to assist her, whether she likes it or not. He introduces her to Ysabel, a gentry-clone of Eugenie who he takes as his mistress after Eugenie cast him aside at the end of Storm Born. Ysabel obviously doesn’t like Eugenie because she knows how much Dorian cares about her, but she is forced to teach her how to control her magic under Dorian’s orders.
As queen, Eugenie makes frequent visits to the villages in her kingdom and discovers that humans have been kidnapping gentry girls and bringing them back to the human world for some sort of sick sex trade. She tries to rescue them but ends up getting captured herself by order of Leigh, the Prince of Rowan Land. Like other gentries, he is ambitious and has plans to father the Storm King’s heir. He imprisons and rapes her for a week (which is horrible and terrifying and I’m glad that Richelle Mead didn’t feel the need to explain what happens in detail) before she is rescued by Dorian, Kiyo and Roland (her shaman stepfather). Her anger drives her to want to kill Leigh, but Kiyo stops her and tells her that her actions will only cause war between her kingdom and the Rowan Land. However, Dorian feels the same as Eugenie and takes things into his own hands by running Leigh through with a sword. As a result Katrice (the Rowan Queen) declares war on both their kingdom.
I liked Dorian in Storm Born, but I LOVED him in this book! He’s a great king who obviously cares about his land and subjects. He’s also witty, charming, smart and goes out of his way to help Eugenie. Honestly, I don’t understand why she kept trying to make things work with Kiyo. Sure she describes him as “hot”, but aside from the physical attraction, there was really nothing between them. They talked and bonded for one night, but other than that I didn’t really see anything that would make her want to stay with him. Dorian on the other hand knew her more than she knew herself, and he was always there for her during her hard times. And after she got raped, Dorian was the one who stepped up and dealt Leigh’s punishment. While I appreciated Kiyo’s attempt at trying to avoid war, I still agreed with Dorian’s actions. Call me crazy, but when he surprised everyone by stabbing Leigh despite Kiyo’s attempt to calm things down, I just wanted to hug him and ask him to be my own personal knight in shining armor. I’m so happy that Eugenie finally realized what a great guy he was and dumped Kiyo for him.