Atenia by Jay Requard — SPFBO 9 REVIEW

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So, “Atenia” is a real-life word that refers to terrestrial or air breathing snails. I was very much so hoping I was going to get a ton of fantasy snails, fucking battle snails and shit. I was also equally doubting that this would happen. It did not. My hopes were raised because early on there was a road named Snail’s Way, but alas. No battle snails.

There was an assload of battle, though.

This starts off fast and furious. A princess killed her father, claimed her brother was a molester, and just took over the country and declared herself queen regent. She has an infant son she’s declared the heir and has started brutally enforcing her rule. So, although she’s claiming that her father was a tyrant who abused her, and her brother is a rapist, she’s not a sympathetic character. She’s left a wake of blood on her ascension and it was wholly unnecessary, civilians and families in the streets.

Flash forward some years and we’ve got a rebellion going, and the MC Haidra is right in the thick of it. Her father was a rebel and dies for the cause, and thusly she gets sucked into it as well when three “wraiths” come to the city in support of the rebellion.

Thing is, the people of this land loved the king, the queen, and the prince who the princess is claiming were all terrible. So, it wasn’t entirely clear at first if there was misinformation on one side or the other, or just whether the civilians were blind to the cruelty of the royal family, or if the princess is a straight liar. The truth of all that does work out in the end. The rebellion has even gone as far as to call themselves The Children of Marta, Marta being the old queen that princess killed.

Haidra isn’t exactly an easy to root for character either. She doesn’t seem to care when she kills people, even when other more seasoned soldiers of the rebellion tell her she’s got to feel something about killing, even if there wasn’t much of a choice, but she seems to be pragmatic about what needs to be done. She’s also very much so swept up into the events of the book and wasn’t really controlling much of what was going on. She was a reactive character and it took me a while to sink into her character.

The “wraiths” that come to the aid of the rebellion are actually sorcerers that can produce a variety of different magics, one of which is illusion. There’s a lot of magic with sorcerers doing magic shit, as well as various fantasy creatures both familiar and unique to this world. When horses fall on the battlefield sometimes these giant worm like creatures come to try and devour them. Should have been snails.

This is a pretty fast paced book and it doesn’t spend a lot of time on exposition. There’s almost always something going on since the book mostly revolves around the siege of a city. It does all wrap up at the end and this is not labeled #1 on Goodreads so I believe this could be read as just a stand alone even if things are published in this world later. This book is marked as safe at the time of this review!