Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT+
Publisher: Mag Mell Publishing
Publication Date: November 24th 2016
5 OUT OF 5 STARS
Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was received through the author in exchange for an honest review.
Prince Jionathan has been plagued by visions of his own death for some time, but every attempt he makes to escape the city and save himself is thwarted by Magi. While the king lies dying Jionathan finally makes a successful escape followed by his ex-friend and magi Rufus Merle. Together they face faeries, bandits, other magi and eventually they must decide the fate of Jionathan’s kingdom – Harmatia.
M.E. Vaughan has created a complex magical society full of fascinating characters and places. The Sons of Thestian is full of adventure, mystery and complex political dealings. A thrilling tale that starts with a slow boil to a shocking conclusion.
The world is well-made and interesting. Vaughan has built her world and written her plot in such a way that I am entirely satisfied with the answers I have but that I still feel there is much more to explore. I am not left confused about the world but I don’t feel like it has given up everything to me yet and that is a difficult balance for any author to create.
The book’s plot is exciting enough though it does have slow spots. The real strength of the book lies in the characters. Each of Vaughan’s characters is rich in backstory and motives. Nothing is left entirely black and white, even the “bad” guys have more to them than just being bad. In fact, several of them are painfully sympathetic and seem like they might deserve a redemption arc. The protagonists have excellent chemistry and with such a wide variety of cast it’s impossible not to fall in love at least once.
Vaughan’s light LGBT representation is also commendable.It’s thrilling to just have a character be clearly LGBT+ without that being the focus of the story or without them being forced into a relationship with the first character of similar inclinations they come across. It’s not terribly important to the story that this character is LGBT+ , but it is made entirely clear what they are nevertheless.
If I disliked anything in the book it was the shallow hinted romance Jionathan explored. It didn’t really do anything to take away from the book but it wasn’t given enough development to feel real or important and it didn’t really feel like it belonged in an otherwise powerful and well-thought out story.
Though the book might take a while to get through (there is a part where the plot comes to a stand still) the ending of the story pushed it over the top for me. When all the secrets were revealed I could fully appreciate Vaughan’s brilliant foreshadowing. It was an ending that was bittersweet and brave. An ending that didn’t try to tie everything in a tight knot of happiness and it made the world and its consequences feel real.
I have become pessimistic about young adult high fantasy. I have become tired of the over-used tropes, of the love triangles and of the perfect happy endings. The Sons of Thestian is unique, complex and an absolute joy to read. Vaughan will draw you into her well-written world easily and, once there, you won’t want to leave.