I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Emblazoned Red by Dawn McCullough-White
Series: Trilogy of the Tyrant #1
Published by Claypipe Press on 5/29/2013
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
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Once, in another world—a dark world, the world of Faetta—there lived paladins and pirates, tyrants and scallywags, vampires and the undead. In this world a revolution is brewing. The royalty of Sieunes are in chains, and those priests and paladins who follow the holy word of the gods are under attack. In the west, the kingdom of Kellerhald receives the fleeing priests in their temples of the paladins of Silvius, god of the Sky.\r\n\r\nHere, a young woman has just passed her tests to become a paladin. A pirate crew raids along the Azez Sea. An undead creature, wielding great power, roams the graveyard of Yetta. And a lost soul, crying out from beyond the veil, seeks out a pure hearted warrior to hear its plea.\r\n\r\nAmid the turmoil of the revolution, Ilka’s mettle is tested. Rescued by pirates, she ends up with an unlikely ally: the pirate captain himself. The newly trained paladin finds herself collaborating with the undead, working with a vampire, and worst of all, longing for revenge against the man who has ignited the revolution in Sieunes: Francois Mond...\r\n\r\nDeath of an Innocent. Rise of a Paladin.\r\n\r\nBook One in the Trilogy of the Tyrant, a stand-alone series set fifteen years after the Trilogy of Shadows.
[rating-report] Dawn McCullough-White’s latest fantasy novel was an anticipated Indie read for me, but honestly it left me feeling like it was lacking. I am a fan of McCullough-White’s other series – which is set in the same world as The Emblazoned Red – The Trilogy of Shadows, with it’s dark themes, tempered with charm and humor. In the Emblazoned Red, she continues with the world, albeit with new characters, and it is some years later. Francis Mond is wreaking havoc across the lands and the clergy are no longer safe. Ilka, a young and beautiful paladin, has ventured on a mission to Shandow with her fiance Jesse, but tragedy strikes and she is found broken and beat up, by the pirate, Nathaniel Sutton. Let me start off by saying, this book wasn’t bad. It’s well-written. I just don’t think it was for me, for a number of reasons. Namely, the May-December romance that was going on. I have absolutely no problem with big age-gaps between couples, but there is a major one here and there was too much ick factor for me to enjoy it. This made me completely disconnect from the characters, but especially Ilka and Nate. In McCullough-White’s previous books, I found the male protagonists charming, even when they were obviously men of less-than-genuine pasts, but I did not find that in Nate. I liked Nate, in the kind of dispassionate way one would be fond of a weird, older uncle. Meaning, I wasn’t attracted to his character at all. It kind of ruined the book for me. I also was not a fan of the multiple examples of Stockholm Syndrome going on. There is quite a bit of jumping around in the story, and I am still not sure if I’ve pieced it all together properly. I think it’s a set up for novel #2, but I’m not sure. At first, it sounded like there were two different plots going on, because they didn’t intertwine at all, but eventually toward the end, they came together briefly, so I suppose I can see where it’s going. Maybe… I would have liked the plots to be better paced. While I liked the introspection on Ilka’s part, I think that more action and less thinking sometimes would have better suited this particular story. There are only so many times you can repeat that you miss someone, or think you are not a good person. Or want someone way older than you. There were some inconsistencies in the story, like maybe the reader is supposed to assume things have happened. Example: when the Paladin set out in the Loir to capture the pirate who brought Ilka home. Before they have even caught him, Ilka is addressing the wardrobe she will be wearing for his trial the next morning. I’m not sure if that is extreme confidence on the part of the Paladin, or an oversight, but it didn’t read well to me. Technically, The Emblazoned Red can be read as the beginning of a completely new series, but since it’s part of the same world as the Trilogy of Shadows, I would have liked for some recap…somehow. Maybe not with the characters, but perhaps with the world they are living in. Seeing Cameo again was awesome, because I do love her character, but new readers will have no idea who Francois Mond is, or his relationship to the rest of the characters and the story. Nor will they know why Cameo is considered scary. Overall, fans of her previous books should hopefully like this, as long as you can connect to the characters. I couldn’t, but your mileage may vary.