In P.L. Stuart’s wide-ranging, high-fantasy, debut novel A Drowned Kingdom, Othrun, the second Prince of Atalantyx faces an emotional and dramatic journey of loss and redemption.
Having lost his family and kingdom to a cataclysmic seismic event, which itself is a purposeful and beautiful retelling of the legendary story of Atlantis, Othrun must lead his few surviving people to safety in the face of formidable enemies that wish to see him perish at their hands. While on this unexpected odyssey, Othrun struggles with internal crises of faith, of moral code, and personal identity. He wants nothing more than to be a great leader, to feed his ego with victory. But Othrun is a complicated man, and faced with mounting, irrefutable evidence, he begins to question his kingdom’s long held beliefs.
Throughout the novel, Stuart brilliantly builds tension between his characters that more than once evoked in this reader a physical, emotional reaction; hairs raised, goosebumps and shivers normally reserved for late night movies and gaming.
Epic, physical battle scenes and detailed character networks merge with a mythological history reminiscent of Tolkien’s legendary imagination that draw the reader in to a page-turning hero’s journey.
Stuart’s masterful storytelling allows the reader to enter this world’s deep, historical mosaic at a gentle pace, like slipping into cool lake waters that seemingly warm over time. His writing and pace intensifies as we learn more of Othrun’s world, ending chapters with such powerful prose as, ”Fools fall for tricks. Fools then fall.”
This novel asks some difficult societal questions, bringing themes of piety, racial divides, colonization and bigotry that challenge the reader to ask deeper questions of the protagonist, Othrun, and understand that while his opinions may be flawed, there exists in him the possibility for change, and that this is not a simple or one-sided task.
A Drowned Kingdom takes place in an intricately designed and complex world, worthy of comparison to the works of Tolkien, Martin, and Jemisin.
P.L. Stuart is just getting started, and I believe this series will rise to the top of its genre, winning well-deserved awards along the way.
A Drowned Kingdom is a fantasy novel not to be missed.