A Drowned Kingdom (The Drowned Kingdom Saga Book 1)
Friesen Press (2021)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (05/2022)
“A Drowned Kingdom,” is the first book in author P.L. Stuart’s, The Drowned Kingdom Saga. The story is also Stuart’s literary debut and is an epic fantasy you won’t soon forget.
Othrun, once Second Prince of Atalantyx, now exiled and stripped of all titles, leads the rebellion against his half-brother King Erthal, who rules with a beastly hand as he systematically quashes the “true” religion of his people in favor of the hedonistic practices of his pagan queen and her druids. Though Othrun still has a few days before his exile becomes effective, he receives an ominous warning from an angel to take his followers and leave his ancestral home immediately.
As Othrun and his people flee, the sea quite literally swallows up the entire island of Atalantyx, delivering it to immediate extinction. This leaves the rebellion faction as the only surviving Atalanteans. Though grief-stricken at the magnitude of devastation, Othrun is ever the realist as he comes to terms with the fact that he is now the true leader of his people and rightful heir. But heir to what? Thus begins the journey in search of a new kingdom—a journey full of uncertainty, foreboding, treachery, and betrayal as Othrun and his followers navigate new lands, form new alliances, and encounter diverse cultures with mages, and magic.
Divided into three sections, each one builds to a finale so impressive I can’t wait to dig into the next book. But I’m getting way ahead of myself. The first section tells the history of Atalantyx and its people, as narrated by Prince Othrun. In fact, the majority of the story is told through his lens (more on Othrun the character later). And while the beginning is a bit tedious, especially for people like me who like to have all the details straight in my head before I move on, my advice here is to push through and don’t get bogged down in the details. Just enjoy the exquisite writing style and the actual telling of the story; it’s well worth the time the author takes in creating his amazing tale.
The world-building in “A Drowned Kingdom” is phenomenal. Expressive and captivating, Stuart deftly uses all the senses to paint meticulous pictures of a world from long ago. For instance, I could smell the mage’s almond oil and lemon sent wafting through the breeze in the midst of the great earthquake, as sure as I could visualize the ground underneath the soldiers opening up and swallowing them. I repeat: expressive and captivating.
As to characters, Stuart does a magnificent job developing all of his characters, considering we get most of our information about them from Othrun’s perspective. Now, as promised earlier, about Prince Othrun… He’s an entitled, egotistical narcissist who is so outrageous that if he wasn’t such a well-written character you’d be itching to dive into the pages and slap him (though you will still want to do just that from time to time.) While reading, I vacillated between intense dislike of his personality to absolutely falling for his complexity, and I ended up hanging on his every word even though I disagreed with 95% of the things coming out of his mouth! He’s a complicated protagonist to be sure. Or should I say antagonist?
One of my other favorite characters is Lysi, a strong, confident, powerful mage who gives Othrun a run for his money. Some of her comments had me laughing out loud as her intelligence and wit controlled every room (or countryside) she graced with her presence. She also makes some convincing arguments about Othrun’s religion versus her own beliefs, which were viewed as pagan, and one can’t help but admire the author’s subtle comparisons to real-world views on organized religion vs. spirituality. I certainly hope to see more of this mischievous mage in the future.
Along with religion, the story presents many other issues we face in the world today, such as racism, war, political discord, and the backwards views on women and their place in society, as well as the absolute ignorance of those influenced by their own sense of entitlement. It’s interesting to see how many parallels there are to the real world and how the author uses his talent with the written word and storytelling abilities to get his viewpoints across in a meaningful manner.
I listened to the audiobook of “A Drowned Kingdom” and wow, am I ever glad I did so. The narrator for Othrun’s character was FLAWLESS. He completely pulled off the “I-am-an-entitled-white-prince” persona. I absolutely loved the narration.
I have to say I’m a little late jumping on the P.L. Stuart train with “A Drowned Kingdom” but the good news about that is Book Two, “The Last of the Atalanteans” is ready and waiting for me. 5 stars to P.L. Stuart for this astounding debut. I highly recommend this story to epic fantasy enthusiasts.