Dan Wright asked me to read his fantasy novel, "Amanda Moonstone book 1: The Missing Prince". It is set in the same verse as his Draconica series but focuses in another country with an original cast. I have read three of those novels (You can read my review for the first one here). This one is about a sorcerers that becomes entangled with a succession struggle involving the royal family of Celtland. I will examine Plot, Characters, and Polish before assigning a grade.
At the highest level, what we have here is a Changeling story mixed with a Road Trip Romance, except the "romance" is foster mother/son rather than between lovers. The two leads are Amanda Moonstone and Daryl Gryphenpyre. Daryl is the son of the previous ruler of Celtland, Queen Sheena, and he's been in hiding since she was killed by her brother (his uncle) who is now the ruler. Amanda is a financially struggling sorcerers who hopes that the reward for Daryl will put her life back in order.
It's pretty standard by the trope but this by no means makes it less touching. This is the fourth book I've read by Dan and I continue reading his work because he places a premium on doing a good job rather than being 100% original. I like this because the later goal is impossible and this frees him to raise the quality in other areas. Was I surprised by anything that happens in this story? No (well, maybe a few things...) Did I still laugh at funny parts, "aww!" at heartwarming ones or go "holy shit!" at the awesome parts? Definitely.
Another point in favor of this book is it's place within the Draconica verse. I really like Verse stuff. It makes the stories seem fuller, you know? Bigger and more indepth and that there is more to this fictional reality than what exists on the page. It's Imagination fodder. Anyway, there are references to the Dragokin sisters (Queen Sheena and Queen Daniar were friends, for instance) and Gothon's Campaign, which took place during Trapped on Draconica, informs the underpinnings for Celtland's current royalty in fighting.
There are two things that bother me about this plot. Call it Fridge Logic.
1. Kimera, the new king who deliberately tries to be as vile and ruthless as possible to as many people as possible, is never assassinated. He once threatened to hang one of his guards for correcting his grammar. He treats everyone like this, from the grunts to the royal guard captain. After a couple years, you'd think one of them would stab him in the back, especially since he's replacing a queen who had a tremendously high public approval rating. If he were like Gothon, this would make sense because Gothon was personally powerful. This guy is just a fat slob. It breaks my Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
2. Luthar turns his back on Kimera after winning their duel. This guy has first hand knowledge of and painful experience with Kimera's treachery so why he would do this without first securing Kimera is strange. It feels like a petty plot twist to allow Luthar to get to his digs in at Kimera while also allowing a bigger climax with Amanda.
There's a great ending. It has perfect closure for this book's conflict while at the same time opening up a series wide conflict with a sequel hook.
Amanda Moonstone is a delightful Classic Antihero. She has a good heart but is living in circumstances that lead to less than heroic actions. She's struggling to cope with three interconnected tragedies in her past ranging from the supernatural to the personal. She also has impressive but not game breaking magic.
I'd like to spend a paragraph on that last point. There are a number of restrictions on Amanda's magic that feel arbitrary. It's like Dan is trying to Hold Back the Plotinium. For instance, Invisibility has a long recharge time, she can't use levitation on herself for flight, etc. I took this as a lesson he learned from the Draconica main series, where the dragokin sisters seem to lose power with each book to make their threats more challenging. I see the ground floor restrictions here as a sign that her Power Level will be more consistent.
Luthar is an expy of Taurok from Trapped on Draconica; the noble top enforcer who is coerced into serving the Big Bad via I Have Your Wife. He even took Gothon's only sympathetic trait (love for the late queen), thus making Kimera entirely evil. His past and vocation makes him Amanda's foil so sharing the screen time with her was a good idea on Dan's part.
Kimeria is a pitiful villain. Even with heinous villains, there's still room for admiration based on their talent, but this guy has none of that. This makes his villainous breakdown and downfall all the sweeter. Also, he's not the true villain here. The Author (a character in the story, not Dan Wright) is far more sinister, imposing, and overall more important to the grand scheme of things.
No spelling or grammar issues. The pictures look good and are well placed.
Trickster Eric Novels gives Amana Moonstone 1: The Missing Prince a B+
Click here for the next book review (which was not a review request): Spice and Wolf volume 4
Click here for the previous book review (which was not a review request either): Sword Art Online Volume 2 Aincrad 2
This was a free review request. I received nothing in exchange except a free copy of the book.