Today I am delighted to be joining the Escapists Tours blog tour for A Drowned Kingdom by P.L. Stuart with a review, and a chance to win a copy of this fantastic book for yourself. You can also check out the rest of the tour schedule below, and please do check out the other blog stops.
Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
Once Second Prince of the mightiest kingdom in the known world, Othrun now leads the last survivors of his exiled people into an uncertain future far across the Shimmering Sea from their ancestral home, now lost beneath the waves. With his Single God binding his knights to chivalric oaths, intent on wiping out idolatry and pagan worship, they will have to carve out a new kingdom on this mysterious continent―a continent that has for centuries been ravaged by warlords competing for supremacy and mages channeling the mystic powers of the elements―and unite the continent under godly rule.
With a troubled past, a cursed sword, and a mysterious spirit guiding him, Othrun means to be that ruler, and conquer all. But with kingdoms fated on the edge of spears, alliances and pagan magic, betrayal, doubt, and dangers await him at every turn. Othrun will be forced to confront the truths of all he believes in on his journey to become a king, and a legend.
When one kingdom drowns, a new one must rise in its place. So begins the saga of that kingdom, and the man who would rule it all.
A Drowned Kingdom is a book that had been on my radar for a while and it was great to have a chance to pick it up. I’m glad that I did as overall I really enjoyed this book. There were a few bits that left me a little conflicted, and I will admit that it took me a couple of attempts to get into the book.
It was more than worth it though.
One such example of things that left me a little conflicted is the prose. On one hand, I love Stuart’s prose, and I loved how it played into the feeling of a story being relayed to us, treading that line between poetry and prose in places, and definitely conjuring the feeling of an oral rendition. But, there was also a formality to the prose – which for the most part played into Othrun’s character and the story very well, and considering this book very much dipped its toes into multiple genres including literary fantasy is fitting, but there are places where the formality feels a bit too much, especially with the dialogue and I would find myself skimming it. This does also impact the pacing a little, and this very much felt like a book of parts – and the first part does take a while to get into before the action and dialogue really kick in. However, while it was certainly slower, that first part was also one of my favourites because of the worldbuilding that occurred there.
That leads to the one aspect of the book that I am not conflicted about, and that is the worldbuilding – which was absolutely fantastic. Also – as you can expect from me – I love that there were maps! The worldbuilding is fascinating, on one hand, you have a complex, richly realised world of multiple civilisations and people, and the cultural and religious differences, and differing worldviews that come with that. It was the worldbuilding that sold me on A Drowned Kingdom, but I will say that this is where the pacing slowed considerably, and for people who are less invested in the worldbuilding than the action and plot, this may be a little too much – because there was a quite a bit of information and almost/and outright telling, which worked with how this book is, but might not be for everyone.
However, where the worldbuilding really worked for me and added a whole other dimension to A Drowned Kingdom, is that it felt like the world almost becomes a character – and almost an antagonist to Othrun, as all those different viewpoints and aspects come into conflict with his worldview. In some ways, it feels like one man against the world but flipped – because Othrun with his idea of the ‘one truth’ and how the world should be, and how he can and will shape it, as a result, is the threat here. We get so see that belief chipped and flaked throughout this book and the potential for growth – if he can adapt to the fact that the status quo is nothing like he believed, is phenomenal and I can’t wait to see what direction Stuart takes that in.
In some ways this was more of a character study than anything, as we spend so much time with Othrun, seeing how he came to be shaped into the man he is, and how that in turn fuels and shapes his interactions with others. The first person POV also means that our view of the world and the other characters are very much coloured by his thoughts and feelings – this is always going to be the case with this kind of POV, but it feels very strong here because Othrun is incredibly opinionated (bigoted). It must be said that Othrun is not a good man, or particularly a likeable character (although there were some moments right at the beginning in particular where I was almost convinced otherwise), but he makes for an incredibly compelling character, who to some extent is both protagonist and antagonist to himself. It’s wonderful seeing in action the impact of his privileged upbringing, and the views of those around him, impacted on his own beliefs and worldviews and how that played out throughout the book as he comes up against evidence that his views – his truth – are not the only way, and it just so well done, that even if you dislike him or worse, and want to shake some sense into him, you need to see where his journey goes.
This is a slow burn of a book, it takes its time to establish the worldbuilding and especially the weight of the history on the world, and the character. So, if you’re looking for fast-paced action, this may not be the book for you. However, if like me you love intricately crafted worldbuilding then boy is A Drowned Kingdom the book for you, and I for one am looking forward to seeing where Stuart takes it in the next book.
P.L. Stuart was born in Toronto, Canada. He holds a university degree in English, specializing in Medieval Literature. P.L. is an assistant editor with Before We Go Blog blogging Team, headed by the awesome Beth Tabler. https://beforewegoblog.com/
The best-selling “A Drowned Kingdom”, chronicles flawed and bigoted Prince Othrun’s journey towards change, and his rise to power in a new world after the downfall of his homeland, which is based on Plato’s lost realm of Atlantis. “A Drowned Kingdom” is mentioned in the esteemed Kirkus Magazine’s 2021 Indie Issue among “Four Great Examples of the Genre” of fantasy. P.L.’s next novel, “The Last of the Atalanteans”, Book Two in the “The Drowned Kingdom Saga”, will surface in Spring 2022.
P.L. is an avid supporter of fellow creatives and proud member of the greater writing community, which includes readers, writers, bloggers, editors, literary agents, and more. P.L. currently lives in Chatham, Ontario, Canada. P.L. is married, and he and his lovely wife Debbie have seven children, and one precocious grandchild between them. When not writing, or engaging in author-associated activities, P.L. is a voracious reader, and loves to read and review books, spends time with family, tries to get some exercise time, and watches Netflix.
Prize: A Signed Paperback Copy of A Drowned Kingdom!
Starts: April 21st, 2022 at 12:00am EST
Ends: April 27th, 2022 at 11:59pm EST
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.