The Orchid Throne (Forgotten Empires #1) by Jeffe Kennedy
Read: 3rd – 6th September 2019
Publication Date: 24th September 2019
Quote from The Orchid Throne
“True Calantheans sense the magic in the gorgeous bloom [the Orchid Ring that, Euthalia, The Flower Queen of Calanthe wears], even if they don’t know what it is they feel, and the encounter is nearly religious experience. Perhaps Calanthe Herself whispers to them. No one has ever said, and I won’t ask. I try not to rush the moment.”
My Overall Rating: 4/5
Plot: 4/5 – Flow: 4/5 – Character Development: 5/5 – World Building: 5/5
The Orchid Throne is the first book (approx 368 pages) in a new fantasy trilogy – Forgotten Empires – by best-selling author Jeffe Kennedy. This fantasy world of Kings and Queens, tyrants and rebels reminds me of the historic fiction I read years ago about the royal houses of Europe but with the added element of ancient magic and forgotten arts just waiting to be re-discovered.
If you’ve read any of my reviews before, you’ll know that I write about how the story was told rather than the plot itself, which means that my reviews don’t contain spoilers of any kind or reveal any plot twists, so here’s what the official blurb has to say about the story:
Welcome to the world of Forgotten Empires from award winning author Jeffe Kennedy that begins with The Orchid Throne.
A PRISONER OF FATE
As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…
A PRINCE AMONG MEN
Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?
So, before we get into what I thought about this story, I want you to know that I was given an unedited digital version of this book for free from the publisher (St Martin’s Press) in exchange for an honest review. This has not influenced my review; these are my words, I’m giving you my honest opinion here.
Jeffe Kennedy is a new-to-me author and I was very impressed with her writing style; I found myself captivated with her beautiful and descriptive use of language. The prose she uses is intelligent, eloquent and very reminiscent of a historical novel; the words chosen and the sentence formation, while still managing to set the scene beautifully in one’s mind.
I thought that the story itself was intelligent and felt well planned out and the way she weaved realistic human behaviours, known historic attitudes and etiquettes into her new fantasy world made it feel believable.
Ms Kennedy allows both her main characters – Euthalia and Conrí – to lead the reader with their own chapters/sections, giving us a chance to read their inner dialogue; I really like this because it helped me to gain a further depth of understanding, empathy and connection to both of them.
If you’ve read my reviews before, then you’ll know that I connect to a story more when the female protagonist is intelligent, resilient, self-reliant and has plenty of gumption; I wasn’t disappointed here. Even though Euthalia was a queen and lived under a plethora of restrictions, she has oodles of gumption, a political mind so sharp you could cut with it and had a wonderful sense of humour.
The many aspects of The Orchid Throne captivated me. The court espionage and rebellion kept me guessing, the battles and fighting kept me on the edge of my seat and the prejudice, injustice and brutality of the times tore me apart; I’ve got to confess, tears did trickle down my cheeks – quite a bit! But fear not, dear reader there was enough gentle humour and banter to balance the tears, the relationship between Euthalia and Conrí both warmed my old romantic heart and set the fires a-blazing too. *oh my*
I really liked this book but I just wanted to tell you why my rating was 4 stars rather than 5.
I think that I have already mentioned that historic fiction isn’t my preferred genre, this is mainly due to the constraining etiquette the characters are forced to live by and, as such, it took me a while to shake off my frustrations and read this story without my modern sensibilities screaming.
It’s important to remember that The Orchid Throne is an opener to a new series, I have read reviews that complained of a slow start and although I struggled with the pace at first too, I soon came to enjoy the gentle way in which Ms Kennedy gradually built the plot throughout this book. Although there is no perilous life-or-death cliffhanger at the end of this one, I liked that Ms Kennedy has left enough teasers and story threads to continue in the subsequent books.
Although The Orchid Throne is not my usual genre, I really enjoyed the story. This book had everything that I look for in an engaging read; some mystery and intrigue, fighting and action, a sprinkling of romance with a nice balance of gentle humour.
So, has my review of THE ORCHID THRONE (FORGOTTEN EMPIRES #1) encouraged you to find out more? I really hope it has. Just click on any of the links below to check out the book yourself or to find out more about the author.
(I am part of Amazon , The Book Depository, Foyles Book Shop and Waterstones affiliate programmes, which means when you use those links to buy a copy of this book, I will get a (very) small % from the sale.)
JEFFE KENNEDY is an award-winning, bestselling author who writes fantasy, fantasy romance, and contemporary romance. She serves on the Board of Directors for SFWA as a Director at Large.
Her most recent works include Prisoner of the Crown and the upcoming Exile of the Seas, from her high fantasy trilogy from Rebel Base books, The Chronicles of Dasnaria, in the same world as her award-winning fantasy series The Twelve Kingdoms and The Uncharted Realms. She is a hybrid author, and also self-publishes a fantasy series, Sorcerous Moons. Her books have won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015, been named Best Book of June 2014, and won RWA’s prestigious RITA® Award.
She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
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Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to read my review. I hope that my review has encouraged you to add this book to your ever growing TBR pile. 😉