A fugitive storyteller running out of time. A prince hiding from his mother. A kingdom on the brink of collapse. A search for a world of magic.
Convinced his tales are true, storyteller Jinji is determined to find the legendary fae realm of Shinac to save his world from a dread lord trying to cross over—before a fatal illness ends Jinji’s life.
Prince Jetekesh is caught between a controlling mother and his affection for his dying father—until he’s kidnapped and forced to journey with a delusional storyteller and a motley band of fugitives in search of a myth.
Hunted by the queen, hindered by a malady, and invaded by an enemy empire, Jinji and Jetekesh race across a crumbling kingdom to find the alleged gate between worlds.
But even if Shinac exists, how can a humble storyteller and deposed prince hope to stand against a devastating evil?
Writer of fantasy, magic weaver, dragon rider! Having spent the past 20 years devotedly writing fantasy, it’s safe to say M. H. Woodscourt is now more fae than human. All of her fantasy worlds connect with each other in a broad Universe, forged with great love and no small measure of blood, sweat, and tears. When she’s not writing, she’s napping or reading a book with a mug of hot cocoa close at hand while her quirky cat Wynter nibbles her toes.
Crownless is a standalone high fantasy that was an incredibly unique and captivating read. Although the storyteller is the central main character, the novel ends up as an ensemble tale where all the characters each have their time to shine and the reader gets to know all of them along the way. This story had me guessing until the end as, at first, it seemed slightly chaotic, but it turned out to be organized chaos where it is clear there is a vision for the story and everything comes together at the end. The author, just like the main character, is an excellent weaver of stories!
In the world of Nakania, Jinji, also known as Jinji Wanderlust, travels around as a Storyteller of tales of a lost prince and the legendary kingdom of Shinac. While visiting the kingdom of Amantier, he is arrested as stories about the fae are against the law. He is taken to the royal city, Kavacos, to be presented to Queen Bareene. She is now in charge as her husband, King Jetekesh the Fourth has fallen mysteriously ill and his outlook is not hopeful. He is sentenced to be a prisoner where he meets Jetekesh, the 15-year-old Crown Prince of Amantier.
Through a series of events, Jinji escapes with the help of Rille, a 10-year-old seer and daughter of the now deceased Lord Lunorr. She is also the cousin of Jetekesh. Her guardian is now Yeshton, a soldier, who also was the one who arrested Jinji. Along for the ride on this escape is Jetekesh and Tifen, the prince’s protector. This group of individuals are now led by Jinji to search for Shinac as Jinji believes it to be a real place. Queen Bareene wants her son back, so she is now after the group. To make matters even more complicated, the Queen has surrendered Amantier to the conquering empire, KryTeer ran by the Holy Emperor, Gyath elvar Keen d’ara KessRa. His armies are ran by his first born, Aredel elvar Gilioth d’ara KessRa, the High Prince of KryTeer (also called the Blood Prince).
There are a lot of twists and turns in this story as you have the heroes and villians that all have depth and you find yourself invested in all of their stories. There is the spoiled prince Jetekesh, the lonely Rille, and the lost characters, such as Yeshton, that all learn and grow throughout the story. They a band of misfit characters that range in age from children to older adults, so it was nice to see the different generations all working together for a common purpose. At first the characters and the plot seemed confusing as there are lot of characters to keep track of and the end game was not as apparent early on, like it is in similar novels. However, it still managed to keep my attention and invested in the story. Some of the characters the readers gets to know a little more than others, but it did not take away from the overall enjoyment of the story.
On its surface, the story can be summed up to a storyteller, a spoiled prince, the prince’s protector, a lordless knight, and a young seer travel together to escape an evil queen and an invading empire. All of the people on both the “good” and “evil” sides are broken individuals that try to find potential to heel. The world of Nakania is a place full of potential, so I am excited that the author plans to write more novels, although this one will remain as a standalone. This was a surprising read and a very entertaining character-driven story!
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