Sunday 14 July 2019

Review: Kingdom of Exiles - Maxym Martineau

Assassin's Creed meets Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in this gripping, epic fantasy romance trilogy.

My heart wasn't part of the deal when I bargained for my life, but assassins so rarely keep their word.

Exiled Charmer Leena Edenfrell is running out of time. Empty pockets forced her to sell her beloved magical beasts-an offense punishable by death-and now there's a price on her head. With the realm's most talented murderer-for-hire nipping at her heels, Leena makes Noc an offer he can't refuse: powerful mythical creatures in exchange for her life.

Plagued by a curse that kills everyone he loves, Noc agrees to Leena's terms in hopes of finding a cure. Never mind that the dark magic binding the assassin's oath will eventually force him to choose between Leena's continued survival...and his own.

The Beast Charmer Series:
Kingdom of Exiles
The Frozen Prince (coming early 2020)
The Shattered Crown (coming late 2020)

Visit Maxym Martineau's website for more information

Kingdom of Exiles is the first book in Maxym Martineau's Beast Charmer series and I though it was a great debut novel. The hook in the blurb for this book is "Assassin's Creed meets Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them" and it was that reference to Fantastic Beasts that totally made this a must read book (I have to confess to never having played Assassin's Creed but I am a HUGE fan of anything in the Wizarding World).

Leena is a Charmer with a collection of weird and wonderful magical beasts. She was exiled by her people after being betrayed by the man she loved and now she's surviving by slowly selling her beloved creatures even though that is something completely forbidden in her homeland. The punishment for her actions is death and now there is a price on her head, Leena's only choice for survival is to make a deal with the leader of the Assassins. Noc jumps at the chance of obtaining magical beasts for him and his closest allies but he is keeping huge secrets from Leena, one about a curse on his family and another about the nature of an assassin's oath. Both of these have huge potential to hurt Leena in the future so Noc has some big decisions to make.

There was a lot to love about this debut, firstly I have to talk about the different magical beasts we encountered and how much fun it was to learn about their abilities. If anything I'd have actually liked more of this side of the story, particularly about the bond between Charmers and beast and the magical realm that the beasts lived in after being captured. I have a few questions about how that all works that I'm sure will become clearer as the series continues but I could still have read about the bests all day long.

The story reminded me a little of Amanda Bouchet's Kingmaker Chronicles, it has a similar set up with a young woman with certain abilities and a group of men who are accompanying her on a journey because she can give them something no-one else can. I really liked the camaraderie of Noc and his closest team but I think it would have been nice if there had been at least one more girl included in the top tier of the assassin's guild, especially since there are so many further down the ladder. I liked both Leena and Noc but I do think the romance between them develops a little too quickly, it starts slow which was great and I thought we were going to get a slow build that develops across the entire series but by the end of the book it had taken things a little too far in my opinion, especially since they've only known each other a few days at that point.

I think we could have had slightly less of the romance and more of the world building and this would have felt like a more satisfying and well rounded read but don't let that put you off because it was still a really enjoyable story that left me eager to carry on with the series. It's definitely going to be fun to see where the story goes from here and I've already got books 2 and 3 at the top of my 2020 wish list.

Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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