Prince of Dogs by Kate Elliott
Review by Joshua S Hill
A word of advice for writers out there: the second book in your series will make or break you. A second book is somewhat like the ending to a standalone novel or short story; if you can’t stick the landing, that’s all the judges are going to remember. But with the second novel, even if you do stick the landing on your first novel – and let’s face it, a lot of authors can – if you can’t back it up in the second, then no one is going to read your third.
Kate Elliott doesn’t have this problem. I’ve read two second novels by her now, and each time she has managed to wow me.
‘Prince of Dogs’ is the second novel in Kate Elliott’s ‘Crown of Stars’ series of novels, and continues a season after we last left off. Gent is in the hands of the Eika, Sanglant is chained, believed dead, Liath is a content member of the King’s Eagles, and Alain is now the heir to Count Lavastine.
But you can read the blurb and summary for the book anywhere you want.
Kate Elliott manages in this book to simply continue the breathtaking style that she exercised in the first book, ‘King’s Dragon’. The juxtaposition of beautiful writing against the hoary backdrop of violence and political intrigue creates a reading experience that leaves you wanting more and more, well into the wee hours of the night.
The religion stays the same, naturally, and develops into a critical thread in the tapestry. Those who appear virtuous and humble, aren’t, and those who appear to be beyond reproach, even if it’s to the heroes detriment, prove you wrong yet again.
This last aspect of the religious overtures in this novel is what intrigued me the most. The character of Rosvita is by all accounts a remarkably intelligent woman, but one that is still hunched over by the weight of her religious shame and self-loathing. Yet, by the end of the book, you cheer for her streak of rebellion and hope that it extends through into further books so that we can understand more of the religious and mystical mythos.
Another thread that I want to draw out is the way in which Elliott doesn’t allow any of her characters to remain comfortable. Just when you think that your favourite character has found someone they can unburden themselves on, to feel safe with, that character is torn away and forced elsewhere. There is no happy resting ground for these characters, always having to move somewhere else, deal with another pain, suffer under an evil bondage. It makes the reading tough going – from an emotional point of view – yet that makes the successes and climaxes all the more tasty.
Prince of Dogs is the perfect second book. It draws you on from the first outstanding introduction to this new universe and drops you off ready and willing for the third. Kate Elliott is a master of her craft, able to leave you breathless and emotionally wrung out with the simple flip of a page.
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