Guest Review: Allegiance by Beth Bernobich

River of Souls, Book 3

What is it about:
With Leos Dzavek dead and his Council in turmoil, the king of Veraene sees his chance to launch his long-desired war against Károví. Ilse Zhalina and Raul Kosenmark know the people of Károví are not so easily defeated, however. Raul sets off for Duenne to confront his king and retake his place in Veraene’s Court. Ilse Zhalina embarks on the long journey from Károví with a letter vital to their cause of peace. Both of them must beware of Markus Khandarr, King Armand’s most trusted Councilor and Raul’s long-time enemy, who has plans of his own.


What did I think of it:
This is a nice read mostly.

Ilse’s journey is full of danger and treachery and I was rooting for her to get back to Raul. She has to leave some people behind, but meets others along the way. I kept trying to guess who she could trust and who might stab her in the back.

Raul’s storyline is filled with even more intrigue and politics. New to me characters appeared, but from the context of the story I learned they were returning characters from the first book in this trilogy (which I didn’t read). Still I didn’t feel like I missed out on things. There were some pretty intense moments and situations and at times I wondered if this story could have a happy end.

I was a bit disappointed that some characters suddenly disappeared from the story without there being a real conclusion to their storyline, but the story was interesting enough that I didn’t mind too much.

All in all this story was pretty enjoyable and had me invested, until…

Close to the end there was a kind of Deus Ex Machina for something that really annoyed me. I must confess I was close to throwing the book across the room. This event was totally unnecessary in my opinion, and the book would have been much better without it.

With much grumbling I continued to read on and the conclusion of this trilogy is satisfying enough, although that one event colored my remaining reading experience I will confess. (I must add that it might be just me who got really annoyed, others might actually think this Deus Ex Machina is wonderful.)

So in the end I thought this was an enjoyable read until the last few chapters. I don’t think I will reread this series, but I might give another series by Bernobich a try.

Why should you read it:
It’s (mostly) an enjoyable Fantasy read.


Pearls Cast Before A McPig

Guest Review: Queen’s Hunt by Beth Bernobich

River of Souls, Book 2

What is it about:

Ilse Zhalina has left to start a new life in a garrisoned fort, leagues from her estranged lover, Raul Kosenmark. The violent quarrel that ended Ilse and Raul’s relationship was quite public. And also, quite fake. They hope to mislead Kosenmark’s enemies so that he can continue to influence the politics of the kingdom in an attempt to stave off an ill-advised war, while keeping Ilse safe from royal assassins who would kill anyone Raul is close to. Ilse longs for Raul, but is set on her own quest to find one of the three fabled jewels of Lir. One of the jewels is held by King Dzavek, sworn enemy of Veraene, who has used the jewel’s power to live for centuries. Ilse seeks one of the other stones to counterbalance Dzavek’s efforts to destroy her country.

In her search, she encounters a shipwrecked prisoner from another land, a woman who has a secret of her own…and the second jewel in her keeping. The two women become allies in their quest for the third jewel, because finding and controlling these stones could mean salvation for both of their nations. And their failure the ruin of their peoples.


What did I think of it:
This is the second book in what I think is a trilogy. I hadn’t read the first book, but this sounded intriguing enough to give it a try anyway.

And I have to confess that at the start of the book I was confused a lot. Not knowing what happened in book one, who some of the characters were, and if they were good guys or bad guys, I felt adrift. This being a world where people also remember their earlier lives didn’t make it easier. But slowly I learned more about the world, the characters and what their motives were, and I was drawn into the story.

There’s a lot going on, and there are a couple of different viewpoint characters. Some I liked from the start, like Ilse, others I mistrusted. The intrigues, switching loyalties and politics in this story make that you have to keep paying attention to understand what’s going on and who is to trust.

The world building and setting were very interesting. I already mentioned that people remember past lives. This made for interesting situations where people meet someone new, but remember them from a past life. It added extra intrigue to already tense situations.

The one thing that annoyed me was the language used for magic. It was a bastardized version of German, or maybe it was very old German, but close enough to the modern German I know that it grated on me. I kept wanting to correct it. Luckily the use of the language was limited, so I could mostly ignore it.

This book ends with some major plot points solved and others still wide open. It was an ending that was both satisfying and that left me curious for the next book. Luckily the next book was already in my tbr-pile, so expect a review of it soon.

Why should you read it:

It’s a very nice Fantasy read.

Pearls Cast Before A McPig