The Riven Kingdom by Karen Miller
Review by Anna Sheldrick
Fantasy Book Review Young-Adult Book of the Month, February 2011
The King of Ethrea is dying and has left no one as his successor except his daughter Princess Rhian, who is not yet old enough to take up the throne in her own right unless she is married. While Rhian despairs over the death of her father, so soon after the death of her brothers, she fails to see the danger from the head of the church. Prolate Marlan seeks to control the throne and he will stop at nothing to subdue this troublesome princess into doing as he commands.
Meanwhile toy maker Dexterity Jones is being visited by his dead wife who tells him to go to the docks and look for a slave ship. From that slave ship he must buy a slave called Zandakar who will be pivotal in aiding Princess Rhian in her attempt to reclaim her throne. But who is he and why is he so important? Dexterity has no choice but to do as his wife says even though to him and his best friend Ursa it is clearly crazy.
The Riven Kingdom is less about world domination and war, as Empress is, and is a lot more about political war as Princess Rhian struggles against influential men and centuries of tradition to become Queen and her own woman. The plots of the Riven Kingdom are not as complex as I hoped they would be but they are still very interesting. I found myself hating the Prolate Marlan more and more with every page I read and sympathising more for Princess Rhian and what appears to be a hopeless plight.
The sudden style change from Empress is also quite impressive as again Karen Miller writes her narrative as the characters would describe it. This is particularly noticeable as the main characters get to know Zandakar and slowly as Zandakarís mannerisms begin to rub off on the characters they start to appear in the narrative.
For some time I did wonder what place the Riven Kingdom had in the Godspeaker series and it was some chapters in before the connection was found. The style and setting of the book is the complete opposite to Empress. Where Empress is set in the harsh, bloodthirsty land of Mijak, this book is set in a world where god is kind and there is no need for the drawing of blood.
Like Empress this book is a very thick book and but every minute of reading it was worth it. The further you go into the book the more you fear not only for Rhian but for Zandakar, Dexterity and the kingdom of Ethrea. I had more difficulty putting this book down as I became more attached to these characters than I did to the characters of Empress.
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