Genre: Fantasy (Myths and Legends) Age Range: YA Star Rating: 4.5 stars Series: Yes - first book of trilogy
Not you without me, not me without you.
Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.
As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.
Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I heard Kristina Perez in Manchester earlier this year. Her book sounded really interesting, and so I was excited to discover that YALC was selling this book. I’ve never read the legend of Tristan and Eseult (though I’m used to hearing/talking/reading about it as Iseult), and while I’m now really curious to read it, I don’t want to until after I’ve finished the trilogy, so nothing’s spoiled.
As a protagonist, I loved Branwen, the conflict of love and loyalty to both her best friend and her home. She’s not a sword swinging heroine, but one who uses her heart and head to protect those she loves.
The female characters are particularly complex – Branwen, Essy and the Queen have the most fascinating dynamics. Their relationships are the stand out part of the book, the love and tension between them and their duties
The world is so rich, with the region and magic wonderfully woven through. It’s both familiar and mythic at the same time. It’s similar to the Ireland and Britain I’ve grown up with in Arthurian legend.
I knew that something bad was going to happen that would rupture Branwen and Tristan (after all, the legend is called Tristan and Eseult!), but I didn’t know what. All I knew was that Branwen played a part in it (as her decision annoyed my friend so much she put the book aside for months). This kept me in suspense the entire book, just waiting. Then I thought I knew what would happen – and it did. And didn’t.
I really liked that, as I was so curious. It kept me reading, desperate to know how they were going to fall out. And now I want to know how – or if – they’ll get back together.
From time to time, the phrasing felt a little awkward, but it didn’t break the flow too badly, and it’s a small niggle in the scope of things.
I’m excited to dive into book two (WILD SAVAGE STARS)!
Read my reviews of other books by Kristina Perez:
Sweet Black Waves (this series):