Welcome to the review tour for The Emblazoned Red by Dawn McCullough White! I'm super excited to share my review with you all today. This book is a high fantasy novel, and you know me and fantasy. Enjoy!
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The Emblazoned Red by Dawn McCullough White
Book One of the Tyrant trilogy
Publisher: Claypipe Press
Publication Date: May 29, 2013
Rating: 3 stars
Source: Ecopy sent for the review tour
Once, in another world—a dark world, the world of Faetta—there lived paladins and pirates, tyrants and scallywags, vampires and the undead. In this world a revolution is brewing. The royalty of Sieunes are in chains, and those priests and paladins who follow the holy word of the gods are under attack. In the west, the kingdom of Kellerhald receives the fleeing priests in their temples of the paladins of Silvius, god of the Sky.
Here, a young woman has just passed her tests to become a paladin. A pirate crew raids along the Azez Sea. An undead creature, wielding great power, roams the graveyard of Yetta. And a lost soul, crying out from beyond the veil, seeks out a pure hearted warrior to hear its plea.
Amid the turmoil of the revolution, Ilka’s mettle is tested. Rescued by pirates, she ends up with an unlikely ally: the pirate captain himself. The newly trained paladin finds herself collaborating with the undead, working with a vampire, and worst of all, longing for revenge against the man who has ignited the revolution in Sieunes: Francois Mond.
Death of an Innocent. Rise of a Paladin.
What I Liked:
This book is a fantasy novel - and fantasy is one of my favorite genres! I had high hopes for this book, and despite my rating, I enjoyed it. Many fantasy reads are similar in the fact that the protagonists much take down a tyrant or kingdom. This book is not really like those books - which was nice!
Ilka, a paladin washes up unconscious in a dinghy in the sea - and right to Captain Sutton's pirate ship. He takes her and gives her armor to his sailors, but he keeps her is his cabin, away from them. He wants to ransom her off for a large sum. When Ilka wakes up, she finds herself in a strange ship with a nice captain - but she can barely move.
A good portion of the book is set of the ship, but not quite half. During this time, we learn about Ilka, and Nathaniel (the captain). The two of them bond pretty quickly, but it's clear that Ilka is still recovering from the turbulent event that brought her to the sea unconscious. A mob, dead paladins, and her fiancee, murdered.
Nathaniel takes Ilka to shore and gets his money - but he doesn't get away that easily. Ilka is the daughter of the king, and the king didn't take too kindly to his daughter being captured and held for ransom. That's the second half of the book - find Nathaniel and bring him to justice (i.e., hang him).
There is a subplot in this book - a plot that deals with the prologue. A vampire named Augustine has a thing for redheads. I'm not sure what his overall role in this book was supposed to be, even after this subplot and the main plot met, but whatever.
So, there wasn't much of an EPIC, world-saving plot to this book. But I liked that. It was more of one woman's journey back from heartache. She learns about herself, her limitations, her duty, and her capacity to love.
There is romance in this book, and it's pretty important. Ilka's fiancee Jesse died in the mob at the beginning of the story. Ilka grieves throughout the story, but she lets Captain Sutton into her heart. I actually dislike the romance in this book for one reason, but if you can see past that fact (which I'll mention in the next section), you'll be good.
The ending was very... perfect. I dislike perfect endings. But most people like them.
What I Did Not Like:
I like good endings. I don't necessarily like perfect endings. In this book's ending, everything wraps up perfectly, in a neat little package with a bow. Dislike.
Also, the romance is a bit disgusting, if you ask me. The fact that she is eighteen, and he is forty-one? Ewww. That was mentioned more than once in the book... and every time it was mentioned, I wanted to shake someone and say, YES! DON'T YOU SEE?! Ewww.
Look. I'm not one of those people that believe that age is just a number. Age is a number. It's also a number of other things, like, gray hair, or dimming eyesight, or wrinkles, versus still-colored hair, great vision, and smooth skin. I am not okay with Ilka and Nathaniel's relationship. He SOOOO could be her father. Ewwww.
If you're one of those people that are okay with the 23-year age difference? Great. Good for you. Me, on the other hand, would NOT want to have sex with a forty-one-year-old. EW.
And then, the subplot I mentioned? I don't understand how it contributes to the entire story. It feels very out of place in this book. The vampire, the draughr, the weird woman, Amourette... none of it fits the overall story. I want to why the author put that subplot in there!
Would I Recommend It:
Ummm, if you can get past that nasty age difference thing I pointed out (which I'm still all O_O from reading), then yes! Get around that, and the book was good. The romance is actually great... if you forget about the age difference. *shudders*
3 stars. Great fantasy... weird (nasty) romance.
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About the Author:
Dawn McCullough White is known for her strong female protagonists, and gritty dark fantasy.
Ms. McCullough-White has lived the majority of her life in and around Rochester, NY with a brief stint in Tucson, AZ. She is pursuing a degree in psychology at R.I.T. Dawn is a history buff and was a member of the Society of Creative Anachronism for years, active as a heavy weapons fighter. She currently resides with her husband and son in a quaint neighborhood next to an old cemetery.