MY ⭐️ RATING: 5/5
Format: Kindle Whispersync
Once Second Prince of the mightiest kingdom in the known world, Othrun now leads the last survivors of his exiled people into an uncertain future far across the Shimmering Sea from their
ancestral home, now lost beneath the waves.
With his Single God binding his knights to chivalric oaths, intent on wiping out idolatry and pagan worship, they will have to carve out a new kingdom on this mysterious continent— a continent that has for centuries been ravaged by warlords competing for supremacy and mages channeling the mystic powers of the elements-and unite the continent under godly rule.
With a troubled past, a cursed sword, and a mysterious spirit guiding him, Othrun means to be that ruler, and conquer all. But with kingdoms fated on the edge of spears, alliances and pagan magic, betrayal, doubt, and dangers await him at every turn. Othrun will be forced to confront the truths of all he believes in on his journey to become a king, and a legend.
A couple things got me onto this book, first was the cover, it’s absolutely stunning for being so minimalistic with two shapes and some water. The second thing that got me was the name of the book and series, when I saw it I immediately added it to my TBR, I just knew I had to read it. What took me so long to read this was waiting for an opening in my scheduled TBR. With book 1 of the Daevabad trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty not being Whispersync’d, I decided to push that down my list and bring A Drowned Kingdom up!
This is the first novel of a seven book series, A Drowned Kingdom is broken into 3 parts, part 1 has been described as a “slow burn” because it has a lot of focus on world and character building, it reminds me of how Robert Jackson Bennett starts off his Divine Cities trilogy with a chunk of the book creating the beautiful world and it’s people. It is told in a 1st person POV of past tense style of how the kingdom has fallen and how it happened. Parts 2 & 3 kick up the pace of the story with the characters off to discover a new land. There is still minimal action and magic that happens, even though the action is minimal, when it comes, it’s breath-takingly written and intricately detailed, it’s brutal and thrilling, which makes it worth the wait. The magical element of the story is simplistic in that it deals with elemental magic and divine intervention which both are limited in use so far in the story.
“But though he was big, I thought to myself, even a giant could never be as big as my ambitions.”
The story’s focus is based around religion, as our MC, Othrun, 2nd prince of Atalantyx, is a believer in the Single God and wants to conquer the pagan, multi-god believers and bring them under his control and belief of the one true god. Stuart being a history aficionado with a major in English/medieval lit and minor in history, dips his toes into real historical events to help weave his own beautiful tale that reads more like historical fiction than it does fantasy, it really feels like this could’ve been real historical events or at least part of an ancient mythology tale being retold with how well it is written. There are a bunch of influences that I caught while reading, some may be more accurate, some some may be my imagination running wild. The one that’s very easy to spot is Atlantis, as the home of Othrun is Atalantyx, maybe the destruction of Pompeii, this could also be part of the Atlantis influence as well. There is also a little tie in to the Roman persecution of the pagans. I also felt like there was a little bit of The Illiad and King Henry Viii story mixed in a tad, and finally there is a small nod to Norse mythology. Again, I might be reaching on a few of these.
Stuart creates our MC, Othrun, the second prince of Atalantyx to be massively flawed, he’s pompous, arrogant and a bigot. While this can be seen as a character you hate, it is somewhat of a signature of the time that Mr.Stuart is alluding to in the historical references that he uses to create his world, which is about 11th century-ish. To me, it’s showing how deeply flawed the time was, but also that when his character starts to redeem himself of these flaws later on in the series, it’s going to be that much bigger of a redemption arch.
“To bend knee to a heathen lord, even to secure my own kingdom, is a bitter taste.”
The fact that Mr. Stuart got two narrators in Adam Kurton & Sean Polite, is awesome. It gives the story a lot more of complexity and range of character voices with the different destinations that are explored within the story. The only thing I didn’t like about the the audio, is that the female voice used by the secondary narrator is too deep. He has a great booming voice, but the feminine range just isn’t there for him. Also, the lack of names for the gods, specifically the elementals is not anything significant, but there is power in names, so it did feel like something was missing on that part. Single God also felt a bit bland, although in real faith there is a God, named God. My hope is that names are revealed later on to give more credence to these gods.
This was such a wonderful read/listen and I recommend this to everyone that loves a great story. If you’re looking for action packed this may not be for you, but I would suggest to at least give this a shot because you might just fall in love with the story being told.