Author: Nene Tina Thomas and Steven C. Plagman
Publisher: Self Published
Buy Link: Buy Usurper Here!
Rating: You Gotta Read
Reviewed By: Lupa
As spring gives way to summer’s heat
The drums of war will tap their beat
One King has fallen, two more will arise
But one to adore, the other despise. . .
After the disastrous events of the Convocation, the people of Illymar have found themselves bereft of allies and embroiled in the very war they had tried so desperately to forestall. Worse, in a single stroke their greatest enemy, King Madari Dhaerhan of Dakkadia, has deprived Illymar of its leadership, leaving the country deeply divided in its most desperate hour.
The heir to the Illymari Throne, Prince Ethan Illvanin, is weak and vain, completely unprepared to be King during a war for survival against their hated rivals. Opposing Ethan is his uncle, Ascham Illvanin, the Duke of Saerce, the most powerful man in Illymar, and the man best suited to command its armies. Ascham harbors no ambition to become King, but Ethan cannot afford the possibility that his uncle will claim the Crown for himself and plunge the country into civil war.
The fate of Illymar will be decided by the unlikeliest of people. Princess Tais Illvanna, the disgraced oldest daughter of King Orem of Illymar, harbors a bitter resentment toward her family for the roles they played in the deaths of her husband and her son, but she must choose between the two, and her decision will mean either peace under her hated brother’s rule, or open warfare between Ethan and Ascham.
Meanwhile, King Madari has troubles of his own. He has Illymar right where he wants it, but standing between him and his ambitions are two obstacles: the Teeth of Amhar, and the Mage High Council of Ithram. Unbeknownst to Illymar, one obstacle has already been neutralized, but eliminating the other will not be as simple, for Illymar enjoys a mutual defense treaty with Ithram and their army of Powerborn, and an attack on one is an attack on the other. Unless he can somehow find a way to break the treaty between Illymar and Ithram, or find a legitimate reason to invade the island, his ambition to conquer Illymar and claim the beguiling Princess Tais for himself will be all but impossible to achieve.
Finally, Princess Chesare Illvanna, the Powerborn daughter of King Orem, will be forced to choose between the laws of Ithram, or helping her family put an end to the approaching war. But as powerful as she is, she is still a child lacking in experience. If she intervenes, will her power do more harm than good?
Wow… So I just finished reading Usurper and all I can say is Wow. It makes me so happy and oddly proud to be able to help promote this fantastic series. Ok I know I am being all gushy but it is so delightful to find a book, let alone a series that captures my attention, makes me fall in love with characters, and has a phenomenal depth of intrigue and courtly politics. Not to mention the tears that came to my eyes as I read one section. (and no I will not spoil anything by telling you what happened there.) But let me get to the real review and past the wows and gushing.
Usurper is the second book in the Zarryiostrom (which is a heck of a word to spell LOL) series by Nene Thomas and Steven Plagman. This volume continues the stories of the noble houses of the kingdoms of Illymar and Dakkadia. The second book focuses on the civil war in Illymar between Ethan and his uncle Ascham. It also focuses much more on the young mage Chesare and her challenges being both a Princess and a mage.
This is a fantastic book. The story flows well, so much so that it is hard to put the book down and I often found my eyes drooping due to exhaustion more than an actual desire to put the story aside. The characters are extremely well written. Each character, main and secondary players, are vividly described and seem to leap off the page. The fight scenes are freaking awesome. If you listen closely while you read the scene between the Sovereign and the Trident you can hear the steel ringing against steel. And Tais’ time in the chapel is…emotionally stirring to put it mildly.
It is extremely hard to pick one character that I can say is my favorite. I adore Tais, her strength and resolve to help her kingdom even with it puts her at odds with part of her family is fantastic. Chesare and her power, combined with her childlike stupidity are a delight to read. Ascham and Vladimir are great, their banter is fun and funny. Then there is the other kingdom. I love Phaedron and Prudence their romance and relationship are fiery and sweet and strong. But honestly I think my favorite character in the story so far has to be Queen Aveliad. She is married to a bastard and a tyrant, but even though she has so many reasons to lose hope she perseveres and continues to be a strong and vibrantly beautiful woman. Though I would never suggest to stay in an abusive relationship, she is one hell of an example of what kind of adversity a woman can overcome if she sets her mind to it.
I was pleasantly surprised to find not one single editing or punctuation issue with the book either. As far as the format and the technical aspects of the book it is as close to perfect as I have ever seen. There is nothing in the wording, spelling or grammar that distracts from the story or jumps out as an error. It is actually great to not have a single glaring error to report.
Vibrant characters, vivid scenes and an engaging storyline that grabs the reader right through to the last page make Usurper yet another fantastic addition to this series.
Bravo Steven and Nene. Once again you have created a story that You Gotta Read!.
My only sadness is that I will have to wait until the next book is ready to find out what happens to my beloved kingdoms and characters. I guess that isn’t a bad thing, it means I have time to get other work done.