DNFed 15% into the story.
Reason number one:
Apart from the prologue and some vague mentions about Dragons and lost magic, there is no magic / fantasy in this story. Instead you are treated to a highly unconvincing historical, pseudo-medieval romance with insta-love and some such. This was really not what I expected or anticipated.
Reason number two:
The annoying female main character. Tam, wow I hate her. Never thought I would write this ever about anyone but she is so damn perfect, that I had an insta-hate moment there. She is not only “stunning, (…) with the most astonishingly beautiful face he had ever seen”, she is also totally unaware of her attractive looks and an epitome of womanly virtue. Gah!
She was a well-bred and well-educated young woman, even an accomplished one. She spoke three languages besides her own and could draw, sing, play the piano, and do embroidery, all of it inoffensively. She could converse on poetry and morals with equal grace. She had improved her mind by extensive reading. But her education did not end there.
She dressed wounds, mixed medicines, sat by the dying. She helped her father with his experiments and his writings. When he saw something interesting under the glass, it was she who drew the picture for him. She had done other work too, assisting her brother with his accounts, shipping lists.
Of course she can sit so fucking quietly “that a butterfly lighted briefly on the flower in her hair.
Reason number three:
The awful descriptive writing. Never have I ever seen so much info-dumping on the historical facts and semi-poetical, semi-prosaic descriptions.
– There is a whole paragraph dedicated to archaeological findings around the capital only to emphasize Tam’s sentiment of feeling “humbled”.
– There is no escaping the many gowns and fashion accounts or the countless remarks on the countryside, architecture or interior design of the palace.
– There is no difference in the two POVs the story is written in. Tam’s and Corin’s voices are totally alike. Why even bother to write in two POVs when you can’t differentiate between the two characters?
– Last but not least: The many confusing expressions like:”draw, sing, play the piano, and do embroidery, all of it inoffensively” or “She smelled stone and ice”, which I admit could be useful if you’re looking for a cave. The smelling part is really baffling. All in all Tam and her Prince can smell like bloodhounds. A total of 63 times they smell things like damp air, death, water, they can smell if a wind is cold, and they even pick up with their noses on salt in the air. How something can smell salty is beyond me. Things can smell “angular and sharp”? Say what? Apparently even people can be gamey-smelling. Whats wrong with words like rancid or stinky?
So feel free to read it for yourself but be aware that there is not much fantasy!