Powerful fantasy filled with romance and intrigue.
Talia (Talia #1) by Christy King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Talia grabs your attention from the beginning, with the title character apparently dying from a wound that will not heal, with her companion unable to do anything to save her. I was hooked from the start.
Christy takes us back in time, to see Talia as a young girl, a princess in a kingdom filled with common people, werewolves, and vampires. All three races live in a precarious balance, with "dusters" - men and women who protect the citizens from the vampires and monsters - providing protection to the people. We get to watch Talia grow and eventually become queen while still a teenager. Wanting to do better for her people, Talia tries to create a truce among the vampires of her Kingdom, while fighting a war with a rival kingdom, surviving assassination attempts, and dubious marriage proposals from other royalty. All along we learn more about Talia, and a special gift that she has that makes her more than she seems.
Part romance, part high fantasy drama, I enjoyed Talia's story very much. As a young queen she is thrown into complex matters of state that she struggles to navigate. She has high ideals, wanting to make peace with monsters to better protect her people, and this leads her to be a bit gullible and naive about how monsters really behave. Talia is also flawed with a sense of self-destruction, a desire to do harm to herself. She is a complex character with many different facets that even Talia doesn't fully know. She falls in love with her Captain of the Guard, and then with an old friend from childhood returned to her life. Love and romance, and the various passions and feelings that follow, especially when one lover is dropped for another, fully round out Talia's character. She tries hard to please everybody, to be nice to everybody, to be a peacemaker and protector, and often this leads to pain, suffering, and death for those around her.
Talia grows through the story, though my one concern with the story and her character is that I think she doesn't grow enough. After being betrayed so many times by so many different people I would have expected her to not trust anybody ever again, yet she does, which shows that she continues to naively trust people whom she should not be trusting. That was a bit frustrating to me as a reader. But otherwise I enjoyed the book and learning about this complex character.
Christy King delivers a powerful story of romance and intrigue in a unique fantasy setting. I highly recommend Talia.