The Sons of Thestian – M. E. Vaughan
Release date: 24 November 2016
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★ – 9/10
Book Depository link
The Sons of Thestian (The Harmatia Cycle #1) blurb:
“Fae thinks I can see it. The future.”
“I hope not.”
The Prince Jionathan is plagued by visions of death. With the King on his death-bed, and the Queen in power, the Kingdom of Harmatia lies in peril. Fleeing the city in fear of his life, Jionathan is shadowed by Rufus Merle, a young, secretive Magi tasked with bringing him home.
Now, with the help of a fearsome Sidhe warrior named Fae, they must traverse a dangerous faerie-wood together.
Against bandits, faeries and cursed priestesses, these unlikely friends travel a path fraught with danger, not least from the blood-thirsty Night Patrol and the dark conspiracy that shrouds them.
This the first book that was highly recommended to me though the Bookstagram community (if you don’t know what that is, I’d highly recommend logging into Instagram and searching #bookstagram). They absolutely seem to know what they’re talking about, and while most of the other books I have heard of, this one took me completely by surprise.
M. E. Vaughan has definitely hooked me with this series, and I am sad to say that there is no information about when book three will be out – and I had to stop myself from instantly picking up book two and pausing to write this review first.
The first 200 pages went slowly, there is a lot of unexplained backstory involved at first, and the continuous swapping of using characters first and last names in the same sentence was somewhat confusing to begin with. There also seem to be a lot of gods, which is explained when the fables are told later, but added to the character names can definitely throw you if you aren’t paying attention (or you receive Crooked Kingdom in the post about 150 pages in and pause to finish that duology first).
The characters are complex, with deep backgrounds that provide a rich tapestry when woven into the current story. There are conflicting motivations, further hindered by deep-seated trust issues and a lack of communication, particularly among the main characters. This is enhanced by characters continuously saving others, despite desperately not needing to. However, all of this seeming mess only adds to the storyline and as it unravels towards the end, some obvious and some very surprising situations unfold. Of them all, Rufus was absolutely my favourite, and I really enjoyed the way that he was portrayed as bisexual.
In terms of storyline, it definitely alluded to plot points later on; however, not necessarily in the way that I had expected each time. I was absolutely thrilled with some of the outcomes – I do like to be surprised by unexpected plot twists; and even more so with the ones that I thought were predictable. I am definitely looking forward to where they go in Blood of the Delphi. I also really enjoyed the ending, although I understand that most will not like it. I absolutely believe that not everyone should make it out unharmed at the end of an epic fantasy novel though, and with this book breaching the 500 page mark I felt it was justified.
Vaughan’s writing style is smooth and strong (like a hot chocolate with a shot of bourbon). As I mentioned above, it took about 200 pages for me to find my feet, but in retrospect I think that was partly set up for the end of the novel, which made me appreciate it more at the end. I don’t have any comparisons for writing, except maybe Victoria Aveyard – but better (I am absolutely coming off the back of reading King’s Cage though, which I felt was all set up for hopefully the last book in the Red Queen series – TBC).
Overall this is definitely a really good first book to a series, and I’m really looking forward to starting Blood of the Delphi, like now!