This book should have been great, featuring five sisters, daughters of the King of Thyrsland, each different. One is the warrior queen-to-be, one a seflish romantic, one almost overwhelmed with her gift of foretelling, one an immoral tart and one drowning in religion and madness. The king is ill and his wife, Gudrun, fears and hates Bluebell, her oldest stepdaughter, and distrusts and dislikes the other sisters. She clings to her son from her first marriage and hopes to maneuver him into eventually ruling in place of warrior Bluebell. Doesn’t that sound like an enticing novel?
The setting and back story should be great too. Thyrsland follows the old religion, which doesn’t differentiate between men and women for ruling; the romantic sister is married to Thyrsland’s old enemy who calculates that switching to the Trimartyr religion will push his son to the fore as Thyrsland’s eventual ruler.
Unfortunately the story doesn’t jell. The plot has many strands and parallel stories that don’t make full use of the inherent conflicts. It felt like an extended set up instead of a story. It didn’t hold my interest after the first fifth or so.
Plus, as a book that relies on characters, there is no sister to like, none is the eventual heroine. All the sisters are flawed and Willow, Ivy and Rose are despicable. I like Bluebell the best. She cares for her country more than herself and is smart, cagey, realizes the religious threat. On the other hand she has a genius for making people hate her (mostly deserved) and doesn’t seem to care that she exacerbates the threat from raiders, step mother, step brother and her erstwhile brother-in-law.
This novel did not work for me. I got it from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Had it not been for that I would have deleted it after the first fifth, as it was I managed to skim the last half. I won’t look for the sequels.