The Warrior (The Royal 3 Trilogy, Book 2), by Benet Stoen
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Today, I’m excited to be reviewing The Warrior (The Royal 3 Trilogy, Book 2), by Benet Stoen.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.
With the Mother-Queen Andromeda now dead, Artemis, the High Queen’s advisor plans to use Queen Morgeoux to do his bidding, while blaming rebels known as the lawless for the Mother-Queen’s death. Meanwhile, Artemis’ men aim to track down Angelus, the Mother-Queen’s former guard, intent to use him as another scapegoat for the Queen’s death.
In the meantime, Angelus seeks refuge with Veronica, a teacher and apprentice healer. Together, the pair flee, searching for the lost Warrior-Queen, Mayva. When the pair eventually stumble upon the lost Queen, they and Mayva’s troops fight together against the demented creatures that Artemis has created. Together, they aim to stop Artemis from taking over the lands at all costs but may lose much in their endeavours.
For the purposes of this review, I’ve chosen to focus on four lead characters: Artemis, Angelus, Veronica, and Queen Mayva.
First, we come to Artemis, the High Queen’s advisor. At first glance, Artemis appears cruel and controlling, lacking empathy of any conceivable form. He is an underhanded and sneaky man, the kind who has contempt for most people and sees himself in a grandiose light, somehow deserving of power and glory beyond others. Artemis controls the High Queen, Morgeoux and seeks to wipe out wielders (those with magic), so he can control magic and rule the lands without fear of being overthrown. Throughout this series, I have come to increasingly hate Artemis’ character, unable to find a single redeeming quality in him. Thus, this made him easy to root against as a primary antagonist.
Secondly, we have Angelus, former guard of the Mother-Queen. From the beginning, it is clear that Angelus is a caring and dutiful man, who seeks to protect others as his main sense of purpose in life. He has a mysterious past, which was gradually revealed as the story progressed, allowing me to better know him at a deeper level. While Angelus spends a large potion of the story mourning the loss of Queen Andromeda in various ways, we also see him grow as a person, learning that not everyone he cares for will leave him in the end, a fear which had previously been stuck deep in his subconscious mind. Overall, I found myself admiring how protective he was of others, including Veronica, even if – at times – he thought to give up on life because of the sheer amount of pain he felt due to loss.
Next, we come to Veronica, a village teacher and apprentice healer. Immediately, we get the sense that she is a kind, caring, and intelligent individual. She is the type of young woman who tries to keep her head down to avoid causing trouble of any kind. However, when men from the castle come looking for Angelus, she is forced to leave behind her old life and to face a secret she has kept from all those she has known, a secret which has only ever caused her pain. Over time, this at first shy and unassuming young woman grows stronger and braver, her shameful secret eventually becoming a point of great power in her life. At times, I found it quite sad that Veronica saw herself in such a negative light, that she feared core aspects of herself due to her past. It was wonderful to see how she gradually came to accept herself for who she is, even if it took some time to get there.
Finally, I’d like to discuss Queen Mayva, the second (warrior) Queen of Lavdia. At first glance, she appeared strong and imposing, a truly formidable woman. While fair, Mayva refused to put up with any kind of nonsense from others. To me, she seemed like quite the mystery, a woman few people had seen in years, living out in a remote part of the mountains with her makeshift army. On the whole, she appeared blunt and hardened to the world, never letting her emotions show. However, I soon came to understand that this was out of necessity, a means of surviving in such tough conditions. Beneath this tough façade, Queen Mayva felt a deep range of emotions like anyone-else. There were few times that her more sensitive side showed but when it did, I got a clear impression of just how vulnerable and profoundly human this strong woman was.
There were numerous positive features to The Warrior, which I wanted to share with you here.
- Firstly, I enjoyed the author’s evocative, emotional style of writing as it allowed me to tap into the character’s emotional states with ease. For instance, I liked that we get a strong sense of the character’s emotional reactions to situations, e.g to the pain of losing people they were close to.
- Secondly, I found it interesting to learn about Angelus’ and Veronica’s pasts as such additional backstory allowed me to see how certain memorable and traumatic events came to shape them as individuals.
- I also found it fascinating to watch Angelus and Veronica’s interactions, seeing how their friendship evolved over time. It feels – at times – like Angelus sees Veronica the way he once saw Queen Andromeda, as someone in need of protection and care. In a way, it was as if he saw the same sense of vulnerability in both of these women.
- In addition, the story unfolded gradually, with the plot steadily being pushed along.
- I loved seeing how characters such as Angelus and Veronica transformed throughout the story. The author explored their inner fears remarkably well and took me on two differing journeys of deep self-realisation over time.
- Finally, the tension-building was done well, making it hard to put the book down.
While reading The Warrior, several insightful quotes stayed with me, which I have included below.
1) ‘Whatever was hardest to hear tended to be the truth.’
2) ‘Some people just want to help – not everyone wants something from you.’
3) ‘You find what you would die to protect, and then you die to protect it.’
4) ‘Because of her fear, she had learned to be brave.’
Overall, The Warrior was a tense yet enchanting tale. I loved reading about how Angelus and Veronica’s bond developed over time. Furthermore, the ending was gripping and climactic, paving the way – beautifully – for the start of book three.
Themes included friendship, magic, survival, power, war, loss, love, and secrets.
My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: lovers of gripping fantasy series, full of magic and mystery.
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