Review: The Empty Throne by Megan Derr

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Niamh Kavanagh
Niamh Kavanagh
Niamh Kavanagh is a social media and digital marketing expert, CMO of Dream Machine Foundation, and storyteller with a purpose. She grew Dream Machine to 8M followers and edited videos that raised $750K for charity, earning attention from Oprah, Steve Harvey, and Khloe Kardashian.

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The Kingdom of Cremisio is in turmoil—the royal family dead by assassination, a secret heir no one can find, and three enemy kingdoms fighting bitterly to each take control of Cremisio for themselves. If the missing heir cannot be identified and located, Cremisio will fall once and for all, and thousands of people will die with it. Only one person knows the identity of the missing Lord Cohea Szelis, the Duke of Lindquist, also known as the Fox of Cremisio. Notoriously honorable, impossible to break, leaving those who have captured him frustrated and helpless. Until one of his captors notices the ring he wears, a ring that marks him Bound, an old, illegal spell that binds two people together, body and soul. If one dies, so does the other. If they can locate the person Cohea loves enough to Bind himself to, they might finally get the Fox to break…The task of finding that Bonded falls to Jethue Bittersea, notorious exiled traitor to the throne, and an assassin who has never failed. It will also give him a chance to do some hunting of his own for this mysterious heir who is the key to everything…

Review:

Dear Megan Derr,

I have read many of your books by now. The description for this one sounded like one of your themes I enjoy the most – politics, fights and love stories (often but not always exploring from friends to enemies tropes) mixed up with suspense and adventure. In many ways this is exactly what this book ended up to be and I liked that but I also wanted to give sort of a warning. It is not exactly a warning – I am sure many readers will enjoy this part of the plot and characterization more than I did – but I still need to share: Jethue Bittersea one of the main characters in the story is an assassin as the blurb tells you.

I don’t often pick up a story featuring an assassin no matter how non graphic the descriptions of his killings are, however at times here we have graphic descriptions of blood spilled and some torture involved as well. In fact the book begins with some torture too (not done by Lord Bittersea but torture nevertheless). The violence and torture are not done *just because*. It is very much a necessary part of the story and Bittersea does have his own moral code but I won’t deny that at times his *enjoyment* of killings was too much for me as a reader no matter how much a lot of people he did in deserved it.

Mind you I didn’t blink an eye at the killings that characters including Lord Bittersea engaged in during the war when they have to protect their home and their king. Although Lord Bittersea’s motivations even at that time included some enjoyment I have to say. I’m going to sound contradictory and say that he is a fascinating character. Some book assassins are actually way too noble and fluffy bunnies deep inside. The book actually seems to acknowledge that he has serial killer tendencies no matter if he often does kill bad people but he certainly didn’t shy away from killing for hire in more grey circumstances.

And even the person who loves him seems to acknowledge that Bittersea won’t ever love him the way he does and he is okay with it. Bittersea may change a lot for one person whom he fell in love with it but his love of killing doesn’t go away and he seems to decide to exercise it *solely* on horrible people only now. I thought the characterization here was fascinating.

Also Bittersea and his love were very hot together I thought – obviously opinions differ.

There are two more love stories developing along with this one. I think I liked them all.

I also very much appreciated how the story here sent a message – this is actually the kind of message I love in the fictional books. I said the war finally breaks in the last third (I think ?) of the book and one paragraph, one paragraph of the musings that one of the characters engaged in suddenly made me think that the author may have wanted to show her disgust over the war in Ukraine.

“Cohea looked at him, at Oskia, in silent conversation. It was stupid. It was pointless. Cremisio was a small kingdom that bothered nobody, and all they’d ever asked in return was the same courtesy. They didn’t restrict travel, they didn’t levy heavy tariffs, they didn’t do anything to impede their neighbors from working with each other. They’d more than compensated everyone over the years for the damage caused by the dead sea.So many people dead, so many families ruined, because Terek and their—cronies weren’t content with the power they already had. The citizens of three whole countries would be suffering now, from the deaths caused, the property destroyed, the livelihoods lost… for what?”

I have not been in author’s head. I have no idea if this was what she had in mind, but because this is something that had been on my mind that paragraph invoked these thoughts in my head. Maybe somebody else will read that passage and think about other terrible wars where a big aggressive state decided to attack a small neighbor who did not attack anyone first. I don’t know but I liked how it was done. I think I like when the message can be more universal I guess and invoke different thoughts from different readers and still be clear enough.

B+

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Sirius

Sirius started reading books when she was four and reading and discussing books is still her favorite hobby. One of her very favorite gay romances is Tamara Allen’s Whistling in the Dark. In fact, she loves every book written by Tamara Allen. Amongst her other favorite romance writers are Ginn Hale, Nicole Kimberling, Josephine Myles, Taylor V. Donovan and many others. Sirius’ other favorite genres are scifi, mystery and Russian classics. Sirius also loves travelling, watching movies and long slow walks.

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