Blog Tour: Prisoner of the Crown by Jeffe Kennedy @jeffekennedy

Posted June 13, 2018 by Melanie in Blog Tour, Book Review / 17 Comments

Blog Tour: Prisoner of the Crown by Jeffe Kennedy @jeffekennedy Prisoner of the Crown by Jeffe Kennedy
Series: The Chronicles of Dasnaria #1
Published by Rebel Base Books on June 12, 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
Amazon
one-half-flames
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

She was raised to be beautiful, nothing more. And then the rules changed…

In icy Dasnaria, rival realm to the Twelve Kingdoms, a woman’s roleis to give pleasure, produce heirs, and question nothing. But a plot to overthrow the emperor depends on the fate of his eldest daughter. And the treachery at its heart will change more than one carefully limited life…

THE GILDED CAGE

Princess Jenna has been raised in supreme luxury—and ignorance. Within the sweet-scented, golden confines of the palace seraglio, she’s never seen the sun, or a man, or even learned her numbers. But she’s been schooled enough in the paths to a woman’s power. When her betrothal is announced, she’s ready to begin the machinations that her mother promises will take Jenna from ornament to queen.

But the man named as Jenna’s husband is no innocent to be cozened or prince to charm. He’s a monster in human form, and the horrors of life under his thumb are clear within moments of her wedding vows. If Jenna is to live, she must somehow break free—and for one born to a soft prison, the way to cold, hard freedom will be a dangerous path indeed…

Excerpt

I grew up in paradise.
Tropically warm, lushly beautiful, replete with luxury, my childhood world was without flaw. My least whim was met with immediate indulgence, served instantly and with smiles of delight. I swam in crystal clear waters, then napped on silk. I chased gorgeously ornamental fish and birds, and enjoyed dozens of perfectly behaved pets of unusual coloring and pedigrees. My siblings and I spent our days in play, nothing ever asked or expected of us.
Until the day everything was demanded—and taken—from me.
Only then did I finally see our paradise for what it was, how deliberately designed to mold and shape us. A breeding ground for luxurious accessories. To create a work of art, you grow her in an environment of elegance and beauty. To make her soft and lusciously accommodating, you surround her with delicacies and everything delightful. And you don’t educate her in anything but being pleasing.
Education leads to critical thinking, not a desirable trait in a princess of Dasnaria, thus I was protected from anything that might taint the virginity of my mind, as well as my body.
Because I’d understood so little of the world outside, when my time came to be plucked from the garden, when the snip of the shears severed me from all I’d known, the injury came as a shock so devastating that I had no ability to even understand what it meant, much less summon the will to resist and overcome. Which, I’ve also come to realize over time, was also a part of the deliberate design.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to the beginning.
I grew up in paradise.
And it was all you’d imagine paradise to be. A soft palace of lagoons and lush gardens, of silk bowers and laughter. With little else to do, our mothers and the other ladies played with us, games both simple and extravagantly layered. When we tired, we napped on the velvet soft grass of the banks of the pools, or on the silk pillows scattered everywhere. We’d sleep until we awoke, eat the tidbits served us by watchful servant girls, then play more.
Hestar and I had our own secret games and language. All the ladies called us the royal pair, as we were the emperor’s firstborns and we’d been born less than a month apart.
My mother, first wife, the Empress Hulda, and the most highly ranked woman in the empire, spent much of her day at court. When she was home in the seraglio, she preferred to relax without noisy children to bother her. Hestar’s mother, Jilliya, was second wife and kept getting pregnant, forever having and sometimes losing the babies. So, by unspoken agreement, we kept clear of her apartments, too. Something else I understood much later, that the miasma of misery has its own brand of contagion—and that those who fear contracting the deadly disease stay far away.
Saira, on the other hand, third wife and mother of our half-sister Inga, had a kindness and sweetness to her, so we kids often played in her apartments when we grew bored of games like climbing the palm trees to see who could pluck the most dates while a servant counted the time. Inga, along with my full brother, Kral, were the second oldest pair—the second-borns, also arriving in the same month, to my mother and Saira. Less than a year younger than Hestar and me, they completed our set of four. Our six other brothers and sisters played with us, too, but they were babies still, needing to be watched all the time. Whenever we could, the four of us ditched the babies, exploring the far corners of our world, then making hideouts where no one could find us.
Though, of course, when the least desire took our fancy, someone always appeared instantaneously to satisfy us. Another of the many illusions of my childhood.
Hestar and I, we had a cave we’d made under a clump of ferns. He’d stocked it with a box of sweetmeats and I’d stolen one of my mother’s silk throws for a carpet. Embroidered with fabulous animals, it told tales of a world beyond our corner of paradise. We loved it best of all our purloined treasures, and made up stories about the scenes and creatures, giving them names and convoluted histories.
One day—the kind that stands out with crystalline clarity, each detail incised in my memory—we played as usual. Hestar had been mysteriously gone for a while the day before, or perhaps several days before or for several days in a row. That part fogs in with the timelessness of those days that never ended, but blended one into the next. What I remember is the elephant.
“And the miskagiggle flapped its face tail, saying nooo—”
“It’s called an elephant,” Hestar interrupted me.
“What is?”
“It’s not a miskagiggle. It’s an elephant, and the face tail is a trunk.” Hestar beamed with pride at knowing something I didn’t.
“You’re making that up.”
“No, I’m not! My tutor told me.”
“What’s that?”
“A teacher. My tutor is named Ser Llornsby.”
“Is that where you went?” Hestar and Kral had been whisked off by servants, and no one would tell me or Inga where they were, just that we’d see them again soon.
Hestar’s blue eyes went wide and he looked around to see if anyone was listening. “Want to know a secret?”
Oh, did I. Even then I understood that secrets were the carefully hoarded and counted currency of the seraglio. “Yes!”
We pulled the silk throw over our heads to make a tent. It was the usual grass beneath, so we didn’t really need the carpet. Having it just made our hideaway more special—and the throw became a blanket, excellent for exchanging secrets.
“We went through the doors!” Hestar told me, whispering but much too loudly.
I hushed him. I didn’t question how I knew, but this secret held power. Most of our secrets had been silly, frivolous things, like how Inga kept candied dates under her pillow. Or ones everyone already knew, like that Jilliya was pregnant again. With the unabashed enthusiasm of children, we absorbed all the murmured gossip and repeated it with equal relish. This, though—I recognized immediately how important it was.
No wonder no one would tell us where they’d gone. Children didn’t go through the doors. Only my mother and some of the women. The rekjabrel and other servants, they went in and out all the time. But a lot of times they came back crying or hurt, so we understood the doors led to a terrible place. And yet Hestar had gone and returned, beaming.
“Was it terrible? Were you scared? Did Kral go, too?”
Hestar nodded, solemnly. “We were brave boys though. And it’s not like here. There aren’t the lagoons and it’s not as warm. They took us to a library and we met Ser Llornsby. We looked at pictures and learned animal names.”
I couldn’t bring myself to ask what a library might be. I wanted to look at pictures and learn animal names. Though I didn’t know the emotion to name it at the time, a jab of envy lanced through my heart. Hestar and I always had everything the same, only I had the better mother, because she was first wife. It wasn’t fair that Hestar got to go through the doors and learn things without me. An elephant. I whispered the exotic word to myself.
“Elephants are huge and people ride on their backs, and the elephants carry things for them in their trunks.” Hestar continued, full of smug pride. “Ser Llornsby is going to teach me everything I need to know to be emperor someday.”
“Why do you get to be emperor? My mother is first wife. Yours is only second wife. Besides, I’m older.”
Hestar wrinkled his nose at me. “Because you’re a girl. Girls can’t be emperor. Only empress.”
That was true. It was the way of things. “Well then you can be emperor and I can be empress like Mother.”
“All right!” Hestar grinned. “We’ll rule the whole empire and have lots of elephants. Kral and Inga can be our servants.”
For the rest of the day we played emperor and empress. Kral and Inga got mad and decided they would be emperor and empress, too, not listening when we said there could only be one of each and we were firstborn so they had to be our servants. They went off to play their own game, but we got Helva to be in our court, and also her little brothers, Leo and Loke. The boys were identical twins and liked any game they could play together. Baby Harlan could barely toddle, so he stayed with his nurse. Ban went off with Inga, of course, as he followed her everywhere, but her full brother, Mykal came to our side.
We didn’t care, because our court was the biggest. Besides, everyone knew the emperor gets to pick his own empress, and Hestar already promised me I’d be first wife and I could pick his other wives, just like Mother did. Which meant Inga wouldn’t get to be one. Maybe not Helva, either, though I told her she would be.
Mother didn’t much care for Saira and Jilliya, so maybe I wouldn’t have other wives at all. I didn’t need them to be empress.
Playing emperor and empress turned out to be terribly fun. Hestar made me a crown of orchids and we took over one of the small eating salons, getting the servants to clear out the table and pillows, instead setting up two big chairs to be our thrones. His Imperial Majesty Emperor Einarr Konyngrr, our father, had a throne. So we’d heard. And we badgered one of the rekjabrel who’d served in the court to tell us what it looked like.
“Huge, Your Imperial Highnesses,” she said, keeping her eyes averted. “It towers above, all platinum and crystal, so bright you can’t look upon it. I can’t say more.”
“What about the Empress’s throne?” I persisted.
“Just the one throne, Your Imperial Highness Princess Jenna.”
“That can’t be right,” I told Hestar, when we let the rekjabrel go. “She must not have seen properly.”
“We don’t have platinum anyway,” he replied.

Review
It is no secret, I’m a huge fan of Jeffe Kennedy’s The Twelve Kingdoms series. I’ve been reading it since I met her at RT15 in Dallas. Back then, I got a copy of the second book in the series, The Tears of the Rose. The third book, The Talon of the Hawk, wasn’t even out yet. Now, we have three The Twelve Kingdoms books, three more of The Uncharted Realms books (which follows the same characters in chronological time.

Now, we have The Chronicles of Dasnaria, which starts before any of these books. We actually see Kral (hero in The Edge of the Blade) and Harlan (hero in The Talon of the Hawk) as children back in their home realm of Dasnaria. We also get to meet their brothers and sisters and even mothers and father.

We learned early that Dasnaria isn’t a great place for women. Harlan had little good to say about it in book three. We even get to see some of it in Kral’s book. But that doesn’t prepare you for what you see in this book. Dasnaria, women really have little rights. We start with Jenna and all her brothers and sisters living in the seraglio, a paradise for the women deep within the palace. There are lagoons and the temperatures are always warm and comfortable. In the Imperial Palace seraglio, there are no windows (though some of the other castles do have them). Jenna has never seen the sky or the sun.

When her brothers come of age (I think it was around seven), they leave the seraglio and don’t return, as men aren’t allowed, only young boys and females of all ages. Jenna doesn’t see her brothers again until she is to attend an betrothal party where she is to meet her husband.

Jenna’s life was pretty pampered as a child. She was the first daughter of the first wife, which basically put her above everyone in the seraglio except her mother, the first wife. She could even push over the second and third wife. Once she’s married to her fiance, that all changes. She now has to answer to him. Plus she will have to leave the only home she’s ever known, to live with him in his kingdom that is part of her father’s empire.

I think most fans of The Twelve Kingdoms World (including The Uncharted Realms)will enjoy this new series. However, there are some that may not. The Twelve Kingdoms is fantasy romance. There is a couple that will get their happily ever after in each book. That is not the case here. Knowing Jeffe Kennedy, there will be a happily ever after at some point for Jenna, but that doesn’t happen in this book. While The Twelve Kingdoms isn’t all hearts and flowers, there are some dark moments in the series, it does end happy for each couple. I think if people can deal with the dark side of this series, they will be greatly rewarded in the end. I also want to point out that Ms. Kennedy did a great job of showing us the darkness of this world without getting into the gruesome details. I think that will also help people who maybe wouldn’t enjoy the darker side of this series. I really hope that fans of The Twelve Kingdoms will give this series a try.

You can read this book if you haven’t read anything from The Twelve Kingdoms world. If you haven’t read Jeffe Kennedy, she writes really great fantasy stories. Her characters are great. You will find yourself really rooting for her characters.

About Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include novels, non-fiction, poetry, and short fiction. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award.

Her award-winning fantasy romance trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms hit the shelves starting in May 2014. Book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose received a Top Pick Gold and was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014. The third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books followed in this world, beginning the spin-off series The Uncharted Realms. Book one in that series, The Pages of the Mind, has also been nominated for the RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2016 and won RWA’s 2017 RITA® Award. The second book, The Edge of the Blade, released December 27, 2016, and is a PRISM finalist, along with The Pages of the Mind. The next in the series, The Shift of the Tide, will be out in August, 2017. A high fantasy trilogy taking place in The Twelve Kingdoms world is forthcoming from Rebel Base books in 2018.

She also introduced a new fantasy romance series, Sorcerous Moons, which includes Lonen’s War, Oria’s Gambit, The Tides of Bàra, and The Forests of Dru. She’s begun releasing a new contemporary erotic romance series, Missed Connections, which started with Last Dance and continues in With a Prince.

In 2019, St. Martins Press will release the first book, The Orchid Throne, in a new fantasy romance series, The Forgotten Empires.

Her other works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion; an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera; and the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, which includes Going Under, Under His Touch and Under Contract.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine. She is represented by Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency.

Rating Breakdown
Plot
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
Writing
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
Characters
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
Dialogue
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
Overall: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
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Melanie

I’m Melanie, and I like to live vicariously through fictional characters. I enjoy reading and listening to mostly fictional books in the paranormal genre, including Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and Horror. I will read contemporary romance on occasion, but not often. I will occasionally throw in a biography, usually autobiographies of people that I find interesting. Listening to autobiographies that are narrated by the author have been great in my experience.

I started listening to audiobooks when a new book in a series was coming out and I wanted to get a refresher, but didn’t have time to read all the books (I think it was Anita Blake). I fell in love. I stayed with strictly re-reading books that I’d already read for a long time. I eventually tried an audiobook for something that I hadn’t read first and was hooked there too. Now, I listen to audio for both re-reads and first time. I have some series that I’ve given up reading and only listen. I try to get any many books/audiobooks from the library to help save on my budget. Books on CD and the newer digital downloads from the library really allow me to listen more. I then purchase my favorites (because who can wait in line for your favorite book??) and less mainstream books from Audible or some other online retailer.

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Posted June 13, 2018 by Melanie in Blog Tour, Book Review / 17 Comments


17 responses to “Blog Tour: Prisoner of the Crown by Jeffe Kennedy

  1. Sophia Rose

    Appreciate you making it clear how this new series fits in the 12 kingdoms world and that it begins with a less than fluffy romance story.
    Great review, Melanie!

    • Melanie

      Where this book is located, things aren’t good for women. The main series, The Twelve Kingdoms, it is a much better place for women. I would highly recommend it, if you like fantasy romance.

      Melanie @ Hot Listens & Books of My Heart

  2. I haven’t read this series, but I enjoy a good fantasy series. I’m not opposed to a fantasy romance, especially if it does have dark moments. I’ll have to check out this series! In what order would you recommend reading these series that tie into one another?

  3. Great review Melanie. I loved the Twelve Kingdoms and didn’t realize the story continued after that. Happy accident since now I’ll have 3 make that 4 to read in a row.

  4. carolesrandomlife

    I have not read this author but I am a huge fantasy fan. Sounds like a very interesting world that these characters live in. Great review!

  5. Jen

    Great review! I’m on the fence on this one. Like you, I bet there will be something happy by the end of the trilogy, but my own reviewers, Gikany and Una, said it’s a dark book. And I struggled with Jepp and Kral’s book, so I’m kind of sitting back and waiting to see.

    • Melanie

      I can see how many people who love The Twelve Kingdoms might be on the fence on this one. It is very different than those books. This one is a lot darker, but I’m sure that it will have that happy ending before we finish Jenna’s story.

      Melanie @ Hot Listens & Books of My Heart

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