‘I’m going to court, Lancelin.’ I don’t intend to explain myself to him. To try to make it clear why, after all these years, my hunger to know the truth about my mother’s death still rages unabated. Or why I think I’ll find that truth at the Silver Citadel. But, as he gazes at me from his slightly hooded eyes, I decide he probably understands.
There are many ways to measure a novel’s success; there is the writing to consider, as well as the plot, the setting, and how well the characters have been developed. Yet one of the best measures of determining the success of a book is to consider how it makes us feel. Vic James has described A Throne of Swans by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr as “[a] dark and glittering fairytale to make your heart take flight”, words which could not be closer to the truth.
A Throne of Swans is loosely based on the tale of Swan Lake; set in a rich and fascinating fantasy world, it follows the story of Aderyn of Atratys, an inexperienced eighteen year old who, after her father’s death, became the Protector of an entire dominion. Yet this isn’t Aderyn’s only problem, for this is a world where nobles can physically change their shape—and transform into birds. Only, since a brutal attack where Aderyn was forced to watch as her mother was murdered, she has been unable to transform. She hasn’t been able to fly for years, and the flightless of this world cannot rule a dominion. What follows is an exhilarating, political adventure that sees Aderyn struggling to protect her home even as she comes to understand more about who she really is.
This is a novel that is a little slow to get going at times, but, when it does go, it doesn’t stop—it pulls you right into its exciting world of politics, love, power, and passion, and it doesn’t let go. It exceeds all reasonable expectations and goes further still. There is betrayal, political intrigue, and heart-wrenching scenes of loss and love. Katharine and Elizabeth Corr have honed in on the story of Swan Lake enough to draw out a fascinating reality where the nobles can fly and where the flightless are abused and disregarded. Odette, the female protagonist of Swan Lake, does feature in A Throne of Swans, but this is not her story: this is Aderyn’s story, and she certainly makes it her own.
Of course, A Throne of Swans is not without its issues. The writing is a little unpolished at times, the pacing can be difficult to get used to, and the romances are arguably quite predictable. Yet, again, one of the best ways to evaluate a book’s success is to think about the emotions it stirs in us, and, if there is one thing A Throne of Swans does perfectly, it is this. Open yourself up to this adventure and you will clutch your blankets to your chest, gasp aloud, and be filled with genuine delight—sometimes all at once! It is intense, occasionally brutal, and, if nothing else, A Throne of Swans is truly magical.
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