The Tainted Crown by Meg Cowley
“Read the series described as “Game of Thrones for teenagers”…
What is the price of kingship?
The kingdom of Caledan is thrown into turmoil by the queen’s murder. Her heir, Soren, flees with a price on his head after being framed for the killing by his uncle Zaki, who seizes the legendary throne of the Dragon Kings and rules with an iron fist to crush dissent. However, suspicion is rife following Zaki’s ill-omened coronation and a crime ill-fitting the beloved Prince Soren.
Now a fugitive roaming the wild, Soren has lost everything. He tries to reconcile his grief and determine how he can reclaim his throne when fate has left him with just one old man, but the odds are greatly against him. If no-one follows him, or believes his innocence, is he worthy to rule?
Across the kingdom, Soren’s cousin Eve takes matters into her own hands and journeys to the ethereal Eldarkind on his behalf, however this reveals her own inescapable fate. As she comes to terms with the gift and the curse of magic, Eve risks her life to help Soren.
Before the fragile peace shatters, can Soren reclaim the throne – and should he?
Discover an epic, coming-of-age fantasy in The Tainted Crown. If you liked The Lord of the Rings, The Inheritance Cycle, or The Books of Pellinor, then you’ll love the Books of Caledan series.” – Blurb from Publisher
The Review –
Before we begin, we will tell you what caught our eye about this book before we even started to read. You likely saw it too, and we think it sets one’s expectations, if not high, then differently than they otherwise might be.
We will be frank, this is not “Game of Thrones for Teenagers.” To call it such is a bit of a disservice to GoT, as well as to Miss Cowley’s novel, but more on that in a moment. Let us focus on the nature of comparing any series to any other. When saying “_____ is like _____” it is important to understand the qualities of “_____” and, clearly, that has not happened here. Game of Thrones, while gritty and at times dark, is full of what we think of as gray characters. These characters are much more like real people, they have aspirations that act as motivators and many of them are neither inherently good or evil, but sit in that gray area.
The characters of The Tainted Crown lack all such subtlety, they are as black and white as they come. Zaki is, without a doubt, one of the most blatantly evil characters we have seen. His motivations are a bit opaque, aside from the lust for power, and he seems almost impossibly evil.
Eve, on the other hand, is as good as they come, accepting what must be done and doing it. Soren is an unlikeable twit. Our point is this, these characters fall back on classic tropes and archetypes in a way that you would not see in a series that focuses on plausibility and realism like GoT, so if you’re a fan of Mister Martin, we cannot say without a doubt that this series is for you.
At the same time, this book has something that Mister Martin does not necessarily have, heroes and villains, which allows Miss Cowley to express other ideas and she does so in ways that are refreshing. Zaki’s quest for power is almost impressive in its single-mindedness, giving us a glimpse into the world of an unrepentant narcissist with anti-social personality disorder. The Zaki chapters are some of the most bizarre to read, showing us, in excruciating detail, the life of a prototypical villain. Eve’s chapters are more of a standard fare, the struggles of a hero as she tries to fix the wrongs of the world, while Soren’s chapters are a bit more, how shall we say, ‘twitty’.
The Rating – B
Unfortunately, the apples to oranges comparison that the publisher set us up with may have colored our review, and for good reason, a work must be interpreted in the light in which it is presented, and that undoubtedly hurt the overall rating here. While Miss Cowley is a gifted writer, she presented something that is much different than we expected. That being said, it is still a darn good book and well worthy of one’s time and consideration, just don’t expect to see any Tyrions, Cerseis or Aryas and you won’t be disappointed.
Do you want to read The Tainted Crown? You can find it on Amazon.