Format: E-Galley, 384 pages
Release Date: September 11, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars in this sensational and striking new fantasy from debut author Ellen Goodlett.
The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.
Or rather, three unexpected options. Zofi, Akeylah, and FloRENcia.
When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny... to rule.
Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in the first book of this sensational and striking fantasy duology.
Rule is the first installment in author Ellen Goodlett's Rule duology. The series features three different characters in Zofi, Akeylah, and Florencia aka Ren. In case it wasn't obvious, the story also alternates between the three main characters as well. Do I think this is a knock off of Three Dark Crowns? Nope. Why? These are three stepsisters who have never met until the King's men show up with summons. They didn't grow together. They weren't suddenly separated into different factions. They weren't trained in dangerous arts in order to kill the other two in order to rise to the top.
Let's break down each character:
Zofi has spent her entire life traveling across the Reaches as part of a group called Travelers never stopping in one place for long. She's trained in the blood arts which makes the user super fast, stronger, and immune to harm for a short time. She knows her people are hated, and are targeted as though the King wants to rid the Kingdom of an bad stain. It's fair to say that Zofi is the strong female archetype who can fight, use a weapon and in a no-nonsense realization concludes that dawning the crowns means ending the oppression of her people.
Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach surrounded by brewing insurrection. Everyone in her family uses the Arts, sometimes the Vulgar Arts which allows you to tithe into another person's blood as long as they are in your bloodline. Akeylah adopted father is an abusive, alcoholic father. Her people are starving, and she’d do anything to escape her family, even accept the invitation of a king not knowing that something she did would come back to haunt her. Unfortunately, it is her secret that we find out to be the most devastating among them.
Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a ladies’ maid at court. She knows her way around the place and is basically the information gatherer of the group. She wants out of her lower class status and into the high-life of palace life. She dreams of being a noble herself one day, but being ominously summoned to the king’s courtroom after a misdeed isn’t exactly what she had in mind. Ren's past actions haunt her every time she closes her eyes. She blames one person for her misdeed.
Each girl hides a dangerous secret–the kind that could get her killed for treason. But when the girls are brought before King Andros expecting an execution; they are all told the truth: the king is their father and he has brought them to court to compete for the chance to become his heir. Oh, and he is apparently dying and they are his only living heirs. Being summoned before the King is never a pleasant experience, especially when you're hiding dangerous secrets. Especially when anyone might be the person to expose your darkest secrets.
Not only must Zofi, Ren, & Akeylah compete for their father’s throne, but someone in Kolonya knows the girls’ secrets, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep them from taking the throne. Even going as far as making the women's life a living hell. You have three very different sisters from extremely different backgrounds, classes and worlds (although at times their personalities seem to mush together). By the way, don't ask me to tell you who the villain is. The author has left that doozy for the final book in the duology.
I would have liked this book better were it not for one particular feature that the author seemed eager to toss in the book to try to prove that she is a fan of diversity. One particular character (who shall not be named) falls for the Queen who is married the King in order to bring peace between two warring countries. This character perhaps felt an obligation to said Queen for helping with particular research or whatever. Whatever the point was, the Queen, in essence, cheated on her own husband with someone else. Could the Queen be the actual villain? Hmmmm....
The other part is pure Game of Thrones when you think about it. Here is a King who runs around his kingdom falling for three different women and sewing his wild oats. In turn, these three women have three different daughters but are kept in the dark about their true heritage until the King's men aka Talons, come knocking on their door. Should I even bother talking about how utterly horrible the cliffhanger ending is? Ok, no, I won't. But, I will say that this isn't the first book this month that has had this type of cliffhanger ending. The only positive is that this is only a duology and the author has to make right what she devastated with that ending!