A MelanieM Review: Ties of Destiny (Curse of the Crown #1) by Caitlin Taylor

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

When forces both inside and outside the palace walls threaten the life of Crown Prince Akoni, he finds himself in need of a guard. Someone who will protect not only him, but also his secrets – and he may have found the perfect man for the task.

Being a soldier is Jeffery’s life. He won’t be defined by his past, but fights for the present, not some future he will never see. Yet, his mandatory reassignment to the palace as Prince Akoni’s personal guard forces him to set aside his plans. His role places Jeffery in the presence of nobles whom he despises, and Prince Akoni is worse than most.

Can two men learn to trust each other, or will the secrets they carry bring about their own demise? Will having Jeffery close to him help Prince Akoni to become King – or cause more deaths? They need to depend on each other, for the sake of the future, because if they cannot, the past will only repeat itself and neither of them will survive.

Ties of Destiny is the first book in the Fantasy series Curse of the Crown.

Well, Ties of Destiny is certainly an unusual sort of fantasy novel.  I enjoyed it immensely even if or maybe because it reads more like a fantasy mystery novel than it does a straight out fantasy fiction.  With most fantasy series, the first story is full of world building, set the stage with our characters, their backgrounds, relationship dynamics, and any huge issues that we know will need to be resolved.

Caitlin Taylor gives us only some of that, along with some astonishing twists in the fantasy genre, like motor cars and trucks.  motorcycles and arms to go along with swords, knives,  and horses.  It’s an odd mishmash of past and present that, tbh, I’m not sure always works, and the explanation could be enlarged on other than history and the obtaining of a special mineral that allowed this society to make jumps in technology. But just like so much else here, perhaps the author is leaving that to future stories.

Yes, there are plenty of places here where Taylor purposely leaves out information.  Jeffery’s background  for instance.  We are given hints, and make certain conclusions, as do all the other main characters around him as to his backhistory (not that of his soldiering days, but the all important beyond).  That’s key, I’m sure to the next story.  Same goes for Prince Akoni where we are missing some rather key details about his father, their relationship, and dynamics.  And the curse of course.

All of these “holes” or mysteries are things you think might be part of the foundation story, but not here.  But Taylor uses these huge gaps to build suspense, anticipation, and yes, frustration with the progress and type of relationship building between Akoni and Jeffery.  Because everything is shrouded in mystery, there’s no communication and therefore, no trust.  A huge issue with these two.

Not that they don’t already have the weight of so much more on their shoulders.  There’s magic gone wonky, unexplained ties, a rebellion, and, yes, more mystery.

Plus we really need more world building as far as what constitutes this monarchy, its regions, religion, etc.  So far we have descriptions of battles, certain cultures likes the Clansmen, which I found fascinating, along with hints from a Southern region, but nothing substantial yet about anything.

Yet for all that, this story is rich in emotion, political deceit, an ominous magical curse, and a heavy threat that hangs over a nation.  Plus characters I’m now heavily invested in.

I haven’t even mentioned the penchant for dominance and bdsm sex have I?  Among multiple partners…  Yes, not your typical fantasy novel.

So what you have here is a wild fantasy story with castles, swords, magic, cars, motorcycles, horses, a variety of  mysteries and missing back histories (on purpose), bdsm sex, D/s light,  along with a bit of a cliffhanger.  Some would call that a hot mess, but really I think Caitlyn Taylor has something here.  The author somehow pulls all those elements together into a whole and makes ou care about the characters, and the plot and where they are all going.  That’s sort of magical right there.

And I can’t wait for the next book to arrive.  If you love fantasy with a quirk, check this out.  I definitely recommend it.

Cover art: Dee Aditya at Decorous Studios.  I really like this cover.  It has an important element from the storyline as well as the crossed swords.  Also important.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 333 pages
Published October 28th 2018 (first published October 26th 2018)
Edition Language English
Series Curse of the Crown #1

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