Author: Jillian Boehme
For a hundred years, the once-prosperous kingdom of Perin Faye has suffered under the rule of the greedy and power-hungry Thungrave kings. Maralyth Graylaern, a vintner’s daughter, has no idea her hidden magical power is proof of a secret bloodline and claim to the throne. Alac Thungrave, the king’s second son, has always been uncomfortable with his position as the spare heir—and the dark, stolen magic that comes with ruling.
When Maralyth becomes embroiled in a plot to murder the royal family and seize the throne, a cat-and-mouse chase ensues in an adventure of dark magic, court intrigue, and forbidden love.
The Stolen Kingdom is a standalone fantasy where you get a whole new type of magic and see how good magic can turn evil when it is in the wrong hands. It has been awhile since I have read a standalone fantasy story as I feel that they need more novels to fully get through the story. This novel managed to set everything up, provide an interesting story, followed by a conclusion all within a single novel. There is a lot that happens in the couple hundred pages that make-up this story and I found it very entertaining and satisfying, but I still wanted more at the same time.
Over 100 years ago, the Thungraves were given magic by the true magic holders as temporary holders. The Thungraves betrayed them and kept the magic for themselves and usurped the throne for themselves in the kingdom of Perin Faye. The corrupted magic was then passed from father to son as a Thungrave king would pass it on to his heir. Time passed and the newest Thungrave King now has possession of the magic and is preparing to pass it to one of his two sons who will be getting married and prepare to ascend the throne soon. Cannon, the heir, is following in their father’s footsteps and seems to have the same thoughts about the magic and the kingdom. On the other hand, we have Alac, the spare heir, who does not believe that his father’s rule has been beneficial to the kingdom and he question’s the magic and its need to be king. Alac’s best friend, and personal guard, Tucker, was a great asset to the story as I loved the banter and friendship between him and Alac. Tucker is there to support Alac, but I would have loved to learn more about him as he seemed like an intriguing character.
Maralyth is the vintner’s daughter with a hidden secret, she can do magic! She secretly used her magic to help the grapes ripen and for other uses to improve the world around her without getting caught. Her magic is discovered one day and she is kidnapped by one of the lords of the kingdom, Lord Nelgareth. It turns out that she is the true heir to the throne and she becomes part of the coup to take back the kingdom from the Thungraves. She has an incredible love of wine and it is proven time and time again throughout the book that she is very knowledgeable about the details of the winemaking process. She is a fairly level-headed and likeable character and the reader roots for her to succeed and find happiness.
The lords devise a plan to use Cannon’s wedding festivities as a cover to bring Mara to the castle and follow-through on their coup. While at the castle, Mara first meets Alac. The two of them have an instant connection and interest in each other. Slowly, they interact and get to know each other little by little. The only issue is that Mara had to lie about who she is to hide her identity and she also has to keep hiding her magic. The two bond over wine as Alac’s dream is to escape palace life in favor of making wine. I liked that wine was a bonding factor as it was a very unique topic that usually is not included in other novels. Alac wants to get rid of the dark magic and maybe Mara can be the key as she seemed to have knowledge about the subject. Although Mara knows that Alac’s remaining time before his assassination is short, she cannot help but start to have feelings for him.
This novel was very interesting, but I would have loved more pages added on in order to include more details and create more background to the story. This way the reader would be able to understand the terribleness of King Selmar and why it is so important to remove him from the throne before things could potentially become worse. The secondary characters seemed very interesting, but they are missing some backstory to help the reader connect to them. As the story moves along at a decent pace, it is both great and frustrating as I liked that every part of the novel had to do with the main story, but at the same time, I wanted more in order to connect to everything more. The writing was easy and entertaining as it was interesting to read about these two characters that are on opposing sides, while having the common purpose of improving the kingdom. A fun and entertaining read!
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, Macmillan-Tor/Forge, and the author, Jillian Boehme for an ARC to read. The opinions expressed are completely my own.**