A Throne Of Swans, by Elizabeth and Katharine Corr is a Swan Lake inspired story of magic, royalty and murder.
Synopsis. Follwing the tragic loss of her mother at an early age, Aderyn is unable to transform into a swan. All noble bloodlines can transforms into a different bird, those who cannot are kown as the flightless and cannot rule. Aderyn’s father has just died and she is now the Protector of Atratys, her dominion, no longer protected by her family.
She decides to attend the court of her Ucle, the King, with only Lucien (a noble of Atratys) and Letya (her friend and maid) to aid her. However, without the protection of her family, and the stress of hiding her flightless status, Aderyn ends up entangled into a deadly game of love and murder.
As she seeks the truth of her mother’s death, Aderyn must chose who she can and cannot trust. And above all she must also protect her dominion.
— Beautiful and Evocative —
The Writing Style and Narrative. The Corr’s writing style is very direct but also beautiful and evocative. It took me a while to grasp the style, particularly because of the first person narrative since I am used to third person narratives in fantasy, but one I grew use to it the book was an easy read. The writing is beautifully descriptive and very easy to connect with since it is so evocative and the pacing is very good. The story has a lot of action but also parts that are less so and the balance is cleverly done so that you dont get bored or feel like it is dragging. Moreover, the writing draws you in right from the start, it is so well crafted and wonderfully written that you get hooked into the story and don’t want to leave.
The first person narrative works very well for this particular fantasy, usually I prefer third, because of the main characters past, trauma and thoughts. Aderyn’s trauma is a big partf of her story and the narrative allows us to see the extent of how it has effected her physically and emotionally. It helps us to understand why she does what she does and why she sometimes makes questionable decisions. The narrative was a wonderful choice and help me to connect well with the character and the story.
— Intriguing and Extensive —
The Plot and World Building. The plot and world-building for A Throne Of Swans is incredibly intriguing and extensive. The plot draws on some popular tropes and arcs that exist in fantasty from fight for the throne, magical dominance, romance of higher and lower statuses to the inspiration of Swan Lake. Because of this some elements are a little predictable and initially I was unsure if this was a retelling or just inspired by Swan Lake. However, despite this the story maintains a significant amount of originality and uniqueness, and the ending was actually pretty suprising. A few elements are incredibly shocking and the tropes used are done in a clever way.
The story is incredibly well-paced with a lot of action and violence. I am hoping that we will see even more severe consequences in the second book for the main cast of characters (particularly due to how this one ends!) There are a lot of elements to this story that are entwined together to create such an intense plot overall and they were all very interesting. The truth of Aderyn’s mother’s attack was an interesting element that created a lot of mystery, I only wish there was a little more to the perpetrators here, but overall it worked well to fuel the story and create a tense atmosphere of realisation and horror.
The romance in the story was a little obvious but nonetheless well written with an aspect of obligation, lust, and actual love. The actual love element was sweet and heart-breaking and I did like it, especially because it did not over power the story, and I thought it ended very interestingly – my favourite part is this point because I am intrigued as to where it will go.
Aderyn’s trauma and flightlessness (not a spoiler btw as you are told immediately and in the actual synopsis) is also dealt with well throughout the story and explains her dependency and her decisions throughout, while maintianing her actual intelligence and power despite any foolish choices.
The world itself is very complex and I cannot wait to see more of it. Despite its complexity the book never feels like it is forcing information onto you, everything you learn you do so through observation and conversation. The world is split into the ‘flightless’ and those who can fly. Those who can fly do so by transforming into the bird of their ancestral line, the people themselves reflect their inner bird through their physique (a wonderful addition), and they are the noble, the rulers. Interestingly enough they are almost ‘destined’ to rule since it is incredibly unlikely, if not impossible, that they would marry a flightless person (for reasons I won’t disclose = spoilers) and allow for flightless heirs.
The world itself is also split into dominins with ‘Protectors’ (leaders) with a monarch who rules over them all. The divide in this story is not heavily gender focused, but the main ruling characters are female and so are forced to find someone to marry, but it would be the same for a male ruler due to the laws. Furthermore, the story has laws allowing for all forms of respectful love, thus LGBTQ+ characters are represented a little (However, I do believe there is room for a lot more representation here which we will hopefully see in the second book.) However, to rule it must be a man and woman (in order to produce an heir I believe). — I look forward to seeing if this is challenged in the next book too. But, the world, laws and magic are incredibly complex and have limits and strengths which make for a fantastically indulgent world that is real and believable.
The hints to Swan Lake are scattered throughout but I will leave those to you to find because it is far too spoilery! I love Swan Lake though, so I adored this inspiration and the nods to the original story!
— Complex and Dynamic —
The Characters. Every character created was complex and dynamic,they had interesting personalities that went beyond the surface layer of expectation and made the story all the more interesting. Furthermore, the characters are diverse (partly mentioned earlier) but we also have a character that is visibly disabled with a twofold presentation (I loved this because despite the obvious limitations the character is still incredibly able and efficient! So I loved this portrayal), I hope the diversity is developed on in the sequel.
Aderyn. The main character is from a noble bloodline, and thus has the ability to turn into a swan but trauma of the past and physical pain means she is unable to. Aderyn’s character is incrediby realistic, despite the high-fantasy settng, as she is smart and determined, but also makes easymistakes and can be too trusting. Her to rotect her dominion is strong and she is rather selfless at her core, despite the focus on her mother’s death resulting in negative actions. I really loved this character even when I disagreed with her because of the realism and the layers to her personality. She is incredibly able and strong in her own right and I look forward to seeing her character develop even more!
Letya. The flightless maid and friend of Aderyn. I ADORE Letya. She is so loyal and devoted to Aderyn and terribly protective. She is very supportive of her and is overall very sweet. I really look forward to seeing more of her later on.
Lucien. The beautiful noble raven, clerk to Aderyn. His initial introduction portrays this character as a jerk right off the bat, as her escorts Aderyn his sarcasm and wit seems to grow and their conversations are very amusing. But, at heart he is a sweetheart dedicated to protecting Atratys, Aderyn and his family. He is loyal and hardworking, and very smart, but can let emotion cloud him and cause him to act harshly. His character is another interesting one that I loved to watch develop.
Siegfried. Another noble, betrothed to Odette, charming, clever, witty and helpful he aids Aderyn a lot throughout the book. But, he can be cruel and set on his decisions, rigid in his ways and secretive. The character is complex and overall difficult to judge, but does become eaier as the story goes on.
Aron. The Prince, without rights but entirely with wit. I loved this character, his initial introduction presents him as a little cruel and calculating, he is indeed clever, but overall he is just bitter and hurt. The character is very loyal and protective of his noble line and his country but comes across as cold. Complex but an amazing character overall.
Odette. The Princess, the future Queen, is beautiful and obedient. She must marry, therefore she accepts the husband she needs and tries her best to be devoted and sweet. But, beneath the obedience Odette is clever, wants freedom and is kindhearted and dedicated. She will do what is best even if she will not benefit from it. I like her character a lot.
King. Aderyn’s uncle and abolutely smarmy. He is cruel and relishes his control and nobility. He wants to control Aderyn and has little regard for anyone’s feelings. I really hated this character, which is of course intended, and he made for a good source of confllict.
Queen. Aloof, reserved and a little cold, the Queen is a quiet character difficult to place and assess which side she stands for. Interesting character, but all I will say here.
— Magical and Promising —
Overall. A Throne Of Swans is a magical and promising story. I cannot wait for the next book because this one was just so magical and the characters are so interesting and complex. Whil I feel little elements were predictable, it did not ruin the story as it is incredibly well written and the ending itself was unpredictable and shocking.
Perfect for high fantasy lovers, Swan Lake adorers or anyone who loves a good royal story of murder, plotting, treasons, secrets and lies.
*I received a free eARC of #AThroneOfSwans by Elizabeth and Katharine Corr via #Netgalley @BonnierBooks_UK @HotKeyBooks in exchange for an honest review*