Title: The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison
Published: May 14, 2013 by Egmont
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Group age: YA
Challenge(s): 2013 eBook
Grade rate: B-
Ailsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she's impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father's court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power--or the magic--to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?
I have to start this review by letting you know that the book’s blurb is a bit misleading. The Rose Thorne is not solely a romance; actually, that is a minor component of the story. This book was really different for me; it is a fantasy with heavy magical and political undertones.
The story is about an imaginary island world that was ‘broken’ apart and it’s now divided in two. The major reason for the division is the type of ‘magic’ that people have and their importance in the eyes of the current ruler: women are supposed to have newyer and men should have taweyr. The previous is a type of magic used for nurturing the earth, and the latter, is used for war and destruction. There are also people that do not get any magic and then, there is also the possibility of a man or woman getting the wrong type of magic for their gender, which the King of Rurik has determined is a crime. Harrison has created a wonderful and rich world of magic and classes, riddled with stereotypes, and complicated court politics. The story is fast paced and very rich; the plot is full of twists and turns that are, more often than not, unexpected. The writing is straight forward and unadorned.
Ailsbet and Marissa (Issa) are both princesses and they are pawns in the sense that only marriage will make them useful to their kingdoms. Ailsbet’s father, the king of Rurik is SO bad, I thoroughly despise the man and so does everyone that meets him, unfortunately he is too strong to be easy to defeat. I feel bad for his family and for the kingdom. On the other hand, Issa is the opposite of Ailsbet. She has a loving father, friends; she’s kind, and beautiful. However, their paths cross (don’t want to spoil it here for you), and I think that at the end they were able to tolerate each other fairly well. I really liked Kellin, his strong character and his desire to do what is good for his country, regardless of the cost to himself. I didn’t like Umber, Ailsbet’s intended, at all; he was so conceited and selfish.
The story is told from the points of view of our two heroines. I really enjoyed their stories, and getting to know them both and their distinct feelings and most of all their brand of magic.
The ending is very open, and I sincerely hope that this is the beginning of a series; otherwise the ending doesn’t conclude the book…
About the cover: As you know, I’m a sucker for pretty covers and this one is just beautiful. I like the softness and how delicate it looks.
Note: I will be in a business trip until Friday, please bare with me and my limited use of the internet while I'm away.