The Painted Crown, by Megan Derr
Series: Unbreakable Soldiers, Book #2
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: November 15, 2016
Prince Istari has spent his life reviled: his parents wish he had never been born, the royal court of Belemere avoids him for fear of angering the king, and everyone else is kept away by his notorious reputation as a deadly sharpshooter. Now a hostage of peace in Tallideth, he is subjected to their hatred as well—even that of Regent Vellem, who once considered him a comrade in arms.
Unexpected solace comes in the form of Lord Teverem, a sad, quiet lord who assumed the title when his brother was killed in the explosion for which Istari’s father is to blame. He is kind and sweet and a sorely needed bright spot in Istari’s life—until Istari meets his family and learns of a dangerous family secret with unexpected ties to Istari’s past, a secret that could drag Tallideth and Belemere right back into war…
Content Warnings for:
Mention of Child Abuse
What a great sequel to The Engineered Throne! I think it picks up the vibe of the former story perfectly and brings more depths to the world by focusing on a new set of characters who were in parts already introduced in the former book.
I found the protagonist, prince Istari, very relatable. Like, some characters are otherworldly great and special or funny and quirky, but he’s just a man—which doesn’t make him boring or anything, just someone like you and me. I felt for him and his vulnerable loneliness and I loved how he grew over the course of the book. One of his character strengths is that he cares so much for other people and invests so much to help them. It’s absolutely charming how he falls for Teverem, who is very likeable as well. Teverem might seem a little helpless at first sight, but when you take a closer look, I think that he is incedibly strong.
As in the fist book of the series, the romance does play an important role but it’s not the focus. The story is very much character and plot driven. However, the slow burning love between them is very rewarding. I love how the tension between them drove me quite mad and I needed them to kiss so very, very bad. Istari and Teverem are both demisexual characters and only feel sexual inclinations towards each other after they’ve already established an emotional bond. As far as I can tell, the portrayal of demisexual orientation is very well done. There is also absolutely no judgement of any kind of sexuality, or asexuality, for that matter, which reminds me that I’ve noticed before how sexual identity isn’t specifically addressed in the series at all. The society is open about every sexual identity and relationships of any kind, which I really like.
What also speaks very much in favour of the book is its depiction of living with a disability. Istari has suffered a serious leg injury that will never completely heal. Pain is a constant in his day to day life, yet he is not lamed by it, but rather learned to live with it and has a positive mindset about his disability as well.
There are a few great secondary characters that contributed to the story, especially Teverem’s adopted children who were utterly charming and such a nice addition to the story. Both Istari and Teverem make great fathers and I believe they will all be very happy together in the long run.
The plot of fighting kingdoms, of intrigue and betrayal is captivating and diverse. There isn’t a boring minute in this book. I also really like the sporadic focus on art and sharp shooting; especially some of the latter scenes were utterly fascinating.
I had a really great time with The Painted Crown, and 2017, when the next, and I think last, book in the series will come out, is way too far ahead, if you are me. I highly recommend this series, and, if you haven’t already read the first book, The Engineered Throne, you definitely should. Enjoy!
Writing and reading are my life. I’m pretty equal opportunity, there is very little I do not like to read. But, I think it’s safe to say that romance and fantasy are my primary stomping grounds :3 I love writing slash, it works for me in a way that writing other things never did. Past that, I’m all over the board – fantasy, supernatural, contemporary, space operas, you name it.
If you need/want to reach me, email is your best bet (doesn’t matter which), but I’ll respond anywhere as long as I see it. I can be slow to reply to emails, fair warning. I get a lot of them and stuff gets buried fast. But I will eventually reply, and by all means harass me if I do not reply quickly enough.
You can pre-order The Painted Crown from:
Less Than Three Press
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.