Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy

Welcome to the world of Forgotten Empires from award winning author Jeffe Kennedy that begins with The Orchid Throne.


As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…


Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I read through this book two times in hopes that I'd be able to find the right words to convey my feelings on this story. This method did not help, and I'm still at a loss. I truly enjoyed the story (both times), and as any book does, it has its highs and lows.

We are transported to a world where magic has been deemed illegal. All the royal families have been slaughtered or taken as slaves, and the "emperor" has found a means to control the world. All the old lands are controlled by Anure, with the exception of one: Calanthe.

When the slaves revolt from Anure's clutches, the story begins.

What I loved:
Sondra is my, hands down, favorite character. The ever loyal friend of the slave king, she has a sharp wit and sassy mouth, not to mention a skill with weapons.
The worldbuilding is fantastic and I felt like I was present in the scenes: I was there after the battles and subsequent victory, I envisioned the beauty of Calanthe, and the Queen, and I was able to picture Leuther in all his smarmy "elegance."

What I didn't love:
The story took an awful long time to progress. I understand that we need the buildup for the story to take root. We need to learn the backstory to cheer for the main characters, but sometimes the scenes took forever. I understood Con's position, but I didn't really understand him (until the end).
I also knew, from the beginning, how this book was going to go.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story and can't wait to continue the series. I need to see Oriel avenged. I need to feel the victory of slaves over the Empire. I need to see Anure suffer.

Spoiler-Free Review

The Orchid Throne is the debut in a new fantasy series, Forgotten Empires, and Jeffe Kennedy is a new-to-me author.

Intriguing fantasy worldbuilding, surrounding political intrigue, structured beneath a monarchy ruled society, where autonomy isn't a right, even for the queen herself.

To be quite honest, I struggled at the start, as the reader was inundated with necessary information that didn't exactly flow fluidly for easy digestion. It was the introduction to the world-building, their way of life, and the characters themselves, but it was done in such a manner, that I wasn't sure I could remember it all, let alone process it. Info-dump. But I did what I always do in this situation, I just rolled with it, knowing cues within the story would spark recognition as I read further along.

While I would love to say the story flowed at a rapid rate, engaging me page after page, that wasn't the case. I've tried to explain this in other reviews and to my fellow readers when discussing books... The Orchid Throne, while interesting, it read longer than its page-length, drawing the pacing to a crawl with description, dialogue, and monologue, and sometimes redundancy. This is individualistic to the reader, whether or not they enjoy that, as some love a wordy novel, wishing to extend the journey as long as possible. With me, I felt the lack of depth of the story couldn't support the page-count.

Between the third and halfway point, the novel's pacing picked up, to where I fully immersed myself and was able to read the last portion in one sitting, no longer fearing that I'd struggle to lose myself in my quest for an entertaining escape. So if you're reading reviews, do note that eventually the pacing quickens.

Queen Lia is intelligent, calculating, and witty as she tries to avoid her fate, betrothed to an infamously cruel emperor, where she uses the guise of naivety to protect herself and her people.

The slave king and a prince stripped of this throne, Conri seeks the engagement ring on Lia's finger to stop the tyrant usurping his land. This is the intriguing setup to The Orchid Throne. There's forbidden, love-hate vibe between Lia and Conri, which is infectious to read yet borderline insta-love. While there is a ton of quirky situations at court, the romance is shipped pretty hard, not leaving much room in the heavily padded novel for plot nor character development.

Another area where I struggled is how this is dual point-of-view, where there was nothing to denote when the narrator switched, and sometimes Lia and Con sounded exactly the same, where I had to reread passages based on what was being thought or said to determine who was currently narrating. This also led to redundancy in the monologue.

I'm curious to read the next in the series, but not necessarily to see what happens next. Jeffe Kennedy and I may not be a good fit, reading-wise, and I'll discover if it was my mood during this novel while reading the next to determine if I finish out this series.

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning, best-selling author who writes fantasy with romantic elements and contemporary romance. She serves on the Board of Directors for SFWA as a Director at Large.

Her recent works include the high fantasy trilogy from Rebel Base books, The Chronicles of Dasnaria, in the same world as her award-winning fantasy series The Twelve Kingdoms and The Uncharted Realms. She is a hybrid author, and also self-publishes a romantic fantasy series, Sorcerous Moons. Her books have won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015, been named Best Book of June 2014, and won RWA’s prestigious RITA® Award in 2017. The newest novella in The Uncharted Realms, The Dragons of Summer, is also a RITA finalist in 2019.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website, every Sunday at the SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and on Twitter. She is represented by Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency.

Connect with Jeffe

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Orchid Throne (Forgotten Empires #1) by Jeffe Kennedy to read and review.

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