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.
My first review!
I'll be posting reviews of my fellow Indie authors as I manage my way through my ever increasing TBR list here.
The Last of the Atalanteans
Fantasy author P.L. Stuart graces the pages of the second installment of The Drowned Kingdom Saga with bloodshed, deception, and a hero’s search for affirmation in the The Last of the Atalanteans. Stuart deftly spins long allegories of lore and legend into blinding moments of conflict, both internal and physical, as we learn more of Othrun’s past while he journeys forward into battle facing new foes, and forging new alliances.
Full disclosure, I received an Advanced Reader Copy of the book, which in no way influenced my opinion or the contents of this review.
Beginning where the first book left us hanging from a cliff’s edge, we find ourselves immersed in Othrun’s false quest. As Stuart beautifully writes, “A game. A play. Theatre.” A band of liars set to infiltrate the ancient Goldhall and return the throne to King Wely, rightful King of Lynchun.
This is a story of mages and spirits and swordplay, told through the narrow but widening eyes of Othrun. Ost, as he is now known, comes from a bigoted and closed-minded family of rulers now long dead. And while Ost retains these traits, we see in him the ability to grow beyond the values he was saddled with since birth. Stuart tackles some difficult themes here; racism, bigotry, sexism, and shows how a mind can be changed over time as Ost softens to his new and only world. A world he desires to rule.
Parts of this book read like a raid in World of Warcraft. Frantic, visceral sword-fights amongst vast battle scenes where Stuart brilliantly focusses his lens to keep the reader not only engaged, but begging for more. I could read 500 pages of P.L. Stuart’s armed skirmishes, he is a master of medieval conflict. And so he should be. With a degree in English, specializing in Medieval literature, Stuart is well-versed on the subject.
The author treats us to some brilliant prosaic dialogue amongst his furious storytelling. Gems such as, “With the blush of dawn,” and “All good kings are killers, and all kings good killers.” These lines had me physically nodding not only in recognition of great writing, but in agreement with the characters. In these moments I had suspended all disbelief in the face of Stuart’s clear glass prose.
Although the book begins by enveloping the reader in Ost’s and Atalantean history, which as we know is only written by the victor, by the end of Part One, the creeping build up to action hooks the reader as the mammoth arrives in Part Two. From here forward the story continues to increase in momentum through well-written tension-building and violent conflict. By the end of the novel, (spoiler) we are grateful for a moment of calm, and yet left wanting more.
The Last of the Atalanteans is an illuminating insight into a man once bound by tradition and aging beliefs who has lost his history, wiped form the planet by a cruel stroke of nature, and who must adapt to a new culture in order to fulfill his destiny, to rule the sole Kingdom before him.