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Review: ‘The Broken Crown’; Sun Sword Book 1, by Michelle West

February 17, 2011

Summary: Serra Diora di’Marano knew the harshness of the Dominion. The desert and the heat constantly threatened to overwhelm the heart of the Dominion of Annagar. It was a truth unquestioned that the Lord demanded harshness, for out of adversity and trial were true men made. The Dominion was a man’s world, with little room in it for women and the weak. Women like the Serra Diora learned early how to be silent and obedient, the property of the fathers who owned them and eventually gave them away to the husbands who would rule them.

Diora knew her fate. She would marry, and gain honor and prestige for her father with the marriage. As long as she remained honorable…as long as the clansmen around her thought her only gifts were incredible beauty of face and form, and a talent for music…as long as no one outside of her family knew of her curse, she would be safe.

If only life in the Dominion were so simple. The Tyr’agar, the highest man in the land, had lost a war and lost a great deal of strength as well. Unrest and hints of rebellion whispered on the wind, and Diora’s father, the Widan Sendari, knew of those hints all too well. Although true men of the Dominion and of the Lord of Day did not acknowledge love for anything beyond horses or war, Sendari loved his daughter more than he could ever admit. With the coming of upheaval in the government, Sendari has a plan with his friend General Alesso that will win the both of them everything, or lose it all…if Sendari can keep his Diora not only safe, but contained and out of the way long enough to win the Dominion or lose everything.

My Thoughts: This is one of those books that is either loved or hated. I don’t think there’s a middle ground with this one. It is the start to an epic series, and it is “epic” in every sense of the word. There aren’t a few principal characters in this series, there are many—sometimes more than you can keep track of!

What this book has working for it are a great deal of political intrigue and drama. There isn’t much romance, but West does include other types of love in how the family groups tend to treat and view their members. Those relationships are very dynamic and interesting, and provide a great deal of drama even without including the political and military dramas as well.

What this book doesn’t have working for it necessarily are the amount of detail and West’s writing style. I appreciate a well-built world, and this one is incredibly well-built and detailed. However, that does not mean I like to have the level of detail normally associated with Tolkien’s work. It gets a little boring at times, and there were a number of times in which I found myself glossing over things and trying to skip ahead. West also likes to repeat things, sometimes numerous times throughout the book. I’m not sure if this is because she thought the reader would forget the details or relationships between characters or if there was perhaps another reason, but in my opinion, if the reader is into the book enough to read beyond the half-way point, repetition and reminders like that are unnecessary the further along you get.

As for the characters, there is a lot to find intriguing. Diora di’Marano is one of the most interesting and dynamic heroines I think I have ever read—precisely because she isn’t a heroine as such. Yet you can’t escape the fact by the end of the book that she has become a heroine, albeit a very unorthodox one. She, more than any other character, kept me reading and wanting more. I want to know everything that happens with this character. Her aunt, the Serra Teresa, is sort of an older version of Diora, but darker due to her life experiences.

There are numerous villains in this plot line—both the human ones and the demons. As of this book, we aren’t entirely certain what the Allasakari demons have planned, but that is okay. It’s only the first book in a six book series, there is plenty of time to learn what exactly is going on and what’s going to happen. Plenty of mystery runs through the plot of this book, so if you don’t like having all the answers at the end of a book, this might not be the book for you.

Overall, I liked this book. It certainly has its drawbacks—too many boring and unnecessary descriptions, too much repetition, a bit too long—but it also has its upsides—great characterization, intriguing plots and subplots, and mystery that keeps you wanting to know more. I give it a 3 out of 5.

Book info: 1997 published, 768 pages, ISBN 978-0886777401

Buy on Amazon * Author’s Website * GoodReads

Copy is from personal library

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