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Book Impressions: Servant of the Crown

Posted by Rampant Coyote on March 8, 2016

ServantOfCrownRomance novels aren’t really my thing. At least, I don’t suppose so… I think I could count the number that I’ve read on one hand and have fingers left over. Novels with romance, sure. Romance movies, sure, a few. Romantic comedies, more than a few. But straight-up romance novels, not so much.

The thing with Servant of the Crown, the first of the Crown of Tremontane series, is that I don’t think it is really a straight-up romance, either. It’s part romance, part political intrigue fantasy novel set in kind of a regencypunk-esque fictional world with some magic and some high-tech (for the era) technological Devices.

The first half seems to follow the romance structure pretty closely, as I recognize it. A young countess is summoned to serve in the court for six months, temporarily putting her life as the editor for her father’s publishing house and part-time county duties on hold. During this time, she meets the handsome prince, whom she instantly loathes. And so it goes, evenly progressing (maybe too evenly) through the first half of the novel.

Then things start getting complicated. The second half of the book is enterprise and political intrigue,  full of sabotage, betrayal, and even murder as things escalate. All the things that make me happy in my kind of books.  (I’m like the kid in The Princess Bride: “Murdered by pirates is good.”) There’s still the romance angle, lurking in the fringes and building in the background.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. Even the first half was entertaining, if a little slower than I’d have preferred. But it got me invested in the characters and intrigued by world McShane has painted, a curious mix of magic and technology, and of some modern sensibilities competing against older traditions. The second half is what sucked me in, and what I’ll probably talk about when referring to the story, though. While down-to-earth political games between competing power factions might seem unusual fare for a story sent in a fantasy kingdom with miraculous healing spells and machines that can control a library’s climate, it was refreshing and intense.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series, even though they center around a different generation of characters.

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