My Rating: Beach Vacation (3/5)
Tomorrow’s Kingdom concludes Fergus’ Gypsy King trilogy, and it once again picks up from where book two left off, so fair warning, there are spoilers for the previous books ahead. If you want to avoid them, see my reviews for book one and book two.
In Tomorrow’s Kingdom Persephone has been separated from her husband, Azriel, after she goes to confront Mordecai on her own. Persephone now has to escape the evil and lecherous Mordecai’s clutches, and it’s going to take some daring and ingenuity. And when she finally does gain her freedom, Persephone has an even more difficult task ahead of her: taking back her thrown. There’s no simple married life ahead for Persephone and Azriel, they’ve got an army to raise and kingdom to save, not to mention wading through the political machinations of the old council. An added complication for this young queen is the fact that she’s pregnant. Now, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a YA novel where the heroine is pregnant and the novel’s not an “issue book”. Personally, I’m not sure how I feel about it, and I have to admit that I found it surprising. What I do appreciate is Persephone’s reaction to having a child, she’s not exactly comfortable about it:
The night Cairn had first shown Persephone the sketch of the girl who was supposedly going to help set the prophesied Gypsy King upon his throne – the girl who so resembled her and Rachel – Persephone has seen her dream of freedom without entanglements put at considerable risk. But that risk was nothing compared to the risk posed by a baby. For what was a baby but a lifelong entanglement – a crying, hungry set of fetters? (p. 21)
I really like the fact that Persephone is conflicted, it added a much-needed element of realism. Persephone is a teenager, one that’s had to grow up fast, to be sure, but a teenager none-the-less. And a teenager is likely to be less excited about the prospect of motherhood, especially when their in the circumstances that Persephone is in. I also liked that Persephone’s anxiety of motherhood is also related to her experiences as a slave. She’s always aspired to freedom, and having a child is not going to allow for that. But, Persephone has changed a lot since book one and she learns to put others before herself, after all, becoming queen is not going to provide her with the type of freedom that she’s always craved. Persephone has to make some sacrifices in order to fulfill the prophecy of bringing forth the gypsy queen. While I can’t help but wish Persephone got the true freedom she’s always wanted, I loved this type of character development.
So why haven’t a rated this one higher? Alas, I really struggled to get through Tomorrow’s Kingdom. I was really disappointed with the continued use of the villain’s point of view. Readers are treated to Mordecai and the devious Lord Bartok’s thought process and I really felt that they slowed the plot considerably. It was really easy for me to set my book down when I got to these chapters, and unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy to pick the book back up.
Further, I also felt that the villains were caricatures rather than fully fleshed out villains. They’re plans were diabolical and over the top and I thought they stretched the imagination too far. For example, Mordecai gets it into his head that he’s going to lead the army, but I’m not sure I buy the fact that he wields so much power. The council is always lamenting the fact that he’s low born, I’m just not sure that I believe he would ever gain the type of power he has, at least without it be unchecked. Why would the council allow for this? Why didn’t they remove him from power? Why do the New Men follow him? For me, the lack of explanation for Mordecai’s rise to power was a plot hole and one that became more obvious in book three.
I was also off-put by the continued mentioning of women being abused. The villains continually mentioned how they wanted to use Persephone for their own bids to the throne, and would use force as necessary. I thought this discussion of women being sexually assaulted was heavy handed. While I don’t doubt that this could happen, it was over emphasized and troubling. There was something a little disturbing about these themes being juxtaposed with Persephone’s relationship with her husband.
When the villains weren’t talking about how they would use Persephone, Persephone and Azriel were constantly jumping into bed. Now, I’ve been a fan of the romance in this series from the start, but it did not live up to expectations in book three. Azriel seemed like window dressing in Tomorrow’s Kingdom. He was around and Persephone was enjoying her time with him, but that’s it. Azriel did heroic stuff, but where were the great conversation between these two that made book one so awesome? There was no real development in their relationship, and it was so disappointing from a romance perspective.
Ultimately, I felt a little disappointed with Tomorrow’s Kingdom. The first book in this series started off so strong. It was funny and action packed; I couldn’t put it down. I really wanted to do same for the last book in the trilogy, but I felt that this book lost it’s steam. While I recognize the fact that the third book can’t be the same as the first, there has to be momentum, I really would have liked to have seen more of what I loved about book one. Namely, the humour that contrasted so sharply with the despair and harsh realities of this world. I’m happy to have finished the trilogy and know that the conflict has been resolved, I just wasn’t as excited with the book as I expected to be.
If you’ve been a fan of the romance in The Gypsy King trilogy, I think Elizabeth Fama’s Plus One is a good choice. Here, it’s the heroine that gets the hero involved in danger and drama. The dynamic between the hero and heroine is similar to Persephone and Azriel. What readers will find different is the dystopian world. Trust me, the comparison makes sense.
I think readers will also enjoy Cassandra Rose Clarke’s The Assassin’s Curse and it’s companion, The Pirate’s Wish. Ananna of the Tanarau finds herself reluctantly partnered with an assassin after she saves his life. But when she learns that she just might be the one to break his curse, she’s swept into a great quest. If you liked the adventure element as well as the fantasy world of Tomorrow’s Kingdom, Clarke’s novel is an excellent choice.
Lastly, if you liked the romance and the contrast of more mature themes with a sweetness that seems more likely to be in a younger readers book, I think The Sweetest Spell is a nice choice. It’s also a good one for anyone who is fond of fairy tale retellings as it has that same feel. The romance between the leads here also reminds me of Persephone and Azriel.