“Politics” or “When In Doubt, Use a River Analogy”

Gone are the days when I could lament that I never win anything. I’ve had more free novels shipped to me in the last while than I have in the twenty-plus years preceding it combined. Much of that has to do with the fact that I’ve been, y’know, entering more raffles – more raffles than I can actually remember entering, apparently, because the book to be presently reviewed seemingly came at me out of the blue. So, whee! Thanks for that!

The Book: “Coldness of Marek (Serengard Book One) by Rachel O’Laughlin.

Genre: Epic Fantasy.

Blurb: Serengard has been under Orion rule for centuries—centuries of insufferable adherence to laws and traditions that its people no longer believe in. Raised by her scholarly grandfather in the fiery southern city of Neroi, Trzl is dedicated to turning the monarchy into a free society where knowledge is king and no one has to be subject to the whims of an Orion.

Coldness of Marek

As the rebellion escalates, her choices have an eerie impact on the revolution at large, elevating her to a position of influence she has only dreamed of attaining. But there are downsides to her new power that entangle her in a dangerous web of emotions, appearances and alliances. Even as she plays to the attractions of Hodran, a rich nobleman who wants to aid her cause, she is drawn to Mikel, a loyalist farmer who hates the rebellion but just might be winning her heart.

By the time Trzl realizes she is in too deep, she has an infant son and a dark mess of betrayal and lies. She runs to the furthest corner of the kingdom in hopes that she will be left alone with her child, but she has created too many demons. A figure she once trusted will take her captive in the chilling Cliffs of Marek, throw her back into the political upheaval she helped create, and leave her at the mercy of a man she never wanted for an enemy.

My Thoughts: The opening chapters swept me right along like a river, or like a conversation on the move, not stopping to explain, just giving you enough to keep up. I very much liked it, that easy need to keep going; it made me sorry I started the book so late in the night, necessitating a too-soon pause for bothersome bedtime.

One pretty definitive feature of rivers, though, is their flow to the sea – in this case, a sea of “1c: the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government; 3a: political affairs or business, especially competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership (as in a government); 3c: political activities characterized by artful and often dishonest practices”. I’ve ever had difficulty staying afloat in such waters. My brain isn’t wired to keep track of an ever-changing who’s who of allies and enemies. I prefer having simple motivations laid out clearly, so I can decide before too long who I want to root for and why. What started off looking like it might be a half-straightforward love story swiftly morphed into more than I could wrap my head around. Political intrigue jacks things up, that way.

So I liked the reading experience. I liked – or, for the most part, didn’t dislike – the characters. I just had a hard time getting in their head space. As far as the big picture plot, I was generally lost. It was all a smooth ride to I knew not where. Since the overall impression was favorable, I will probably give the book a reread sometime to see whether I fare any better, comprehension-wise.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Would I recommend it? Maybe not for someone like me. But I know there are a heck-ton of readers out there who are little enough like me and love a tangled chess game of a novel. For such as they, I present for consideration the Serengard series.

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2 thoughts on ““Politics” or “When In Doubt, Use a River Analogy”

    • There’s a name pronunciation guide at the back of the book, if anyone finds that helpful. If it’s just a matter of visual aesthetic preferences, though, there’s little to be done. Gosh knows I can’t do a thing with “Quetzalcoatl”, never mind how you say it. *eyes cross*

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