Series: Fantasyland #2
on August 22nd 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy
Also in this series: Wildest Dreams (Fantasyland, #1), Fantastical (Fantasyland, #3)
Circe Quinn goes to sleep at home and wakes up in a corral filled with women wearing sacrificial virgin attire - and she is one of them. She soon finds out that she’s not having a wild dream, she’s living a frightening nightmare where she’s been transported to a barren land populated by a primitive people and in short order, she’s installed very unwillingly on her white throne of horns as their Queen.
Dax Lahn is the king of Suh Tunak, The Horde of the nation of Korwahk and with one look at Circe, he knows she will be his bride and together they will start The Golden Dynasty of legend.
Circe and Lahn are separated by language, culture and the small fact she’s from a parallel universe and has no idea how she got there or how to get home. But facing challenge after challenge, Circe finds her footing as Queen of the brutal Korwahk Horde and wife to its King, then she makes friends then she finds herself falling in love with this primitive land, its people and especially their savage leader.
Also by this author: Wildest Dreams (Fantasyland, #1), Fantastical (Fantasyland, #3)
Golden Dynasty was impressive and I’m not ashamed to say that I really like it! I’ve never fully committed to the Kristen Ashley bandwagon and I struggled with the writing style in the previous Fantasyland book; however, I read several Goodread’s reviews claiming the second book was better and I have to agree. In fact, I already one-clicked Fantastical, the third book in the series.
Let’s get this out of the way…. the book contains trigger subjects and parts of me felt like a bad human for enjoying this book. Circe awakens in an unknown world about to be hunted down by warriors intent on making her their bride. The warrior king sees her, fights for her, and then claims her – making Circe the kingdom’s Queen. The topics of rape and slavery are explored and Circe spends significant time trying to understand how this warrior culture can justify its actions.
First, I enjoyed how Kristin Ashley walked us through Circe’s exploration of this new world. In general, this was a book about a bunch of alpha male warriors running around and being… well, alpha, and Circe has to adjust quickly. The first half was a page turner and I was absorbed with the language and culture. Kristen Ashley writes the Korwahk scenes in Korwahk, leaving the reader to decipher along with Circe what is going on. (Hint: I referenced the Korwahk dictionary off Kristen Ashley’s website for translation)
The world building was interesting, reminding me of Elizabeth Vaughen’s Warprize series. The Suh Tunak, or “The Hord,” is the primarily nomadic tribe that rules Korwahk. The warriors are fierce and highly revered as the nation’s income is primarily sourced from robbing and looting neighboring countries. As a result, the Warriors are promised unlimited riches and a wife to be acquired through The Hunt as payment for their services.
Finally, I liked how the main characters, Circe and Lahn, worked to understand and to live with the differences between their cultures. Lahn, Circe’s warrior husband and Korwahk king, must show a fierce and unbending attitude to his warriors to rule effectively. However, Lahn also realizes he must take a softer and gentler approach to gain Circe’s trust and respect. Likewise, Circe must open herself to the Korwahk culture and understand and appreciate the warrior lifestyle – much different than the modern-day Seattle where she came from!
Overall this was a good book with interesting cultures and world building. Strongly recommend for Kristin Ashley fans or anyone who appreciates a slightly different twist on Romantic Fantasy world building!