When I first started this, I thought I was going to love it. There was a nice opening hook and the Game of Thrones vibes were enjoyable. However, what works for George R. R. Martin sadly did not work here. I felt like too many minor characters were introduced with the sole purpose of killing them off, which wasn’t effective at eliciting any kind of emotional response from me because I hadn’t been given time to get to know them or become invested in their stories. They were purely a means of furthering the plot.
Speaking of plot, it took me SO long to get invested in this. For such an exciting period in history, the book really wasn’t as action-packed as I’d hoped it would be. It did pick up in the second half but it took forever to get going; it really shouldn’t take 200 pages before a book gets interesting! Then, the plot threads I did find myself more interested in did not really go anywhere and did not wrap up. The ending was disappointing and felt a little rushed.
I preferred the Arsinoe POV chapters to Berenice and especially liked the turn her story took nearer the end. However, as I mentioned, it then didn’t really go anywhere. I get that you can’t mess too much with history but I would have appreciated more of a focus on these particular events that took place outside of the royal court.
I also really didn’t like the blatant sexual abuse that was included in the book. Use of the ‘c’ word never became any easier to stomach, despite being used on numerous occasions. Again, I get why authors like George R. R. Martin use it and in those cases, while it is still foul, it kind of works for the situation. But here, it was just awful and didn’t add anything to the scenes where it was used.
It may just be a case of bad timing but, for some reason, I didn’t connect with this one the way I wanted to. It never really held my attention or called to me to pick it back up when I stopped reading. I just wasn’t feeling it. This book had a lot of potential but sadly didn’t live up to it, and was ultimately forgettable.
Has anyone else read this one? What did you think? Can you recommend me any other historical fiction you enjoyed?