The Crown Princess’ Voyage is the second book in the “Gift-Knight” series of fantasy novels. It continues the story where The Gift-Knight’s Quest leaves off, developing familiar characters while introducing new ones, and showing you more of the fantasy world illustrated in Steven Sandford’s original map. Chandra’s been pushed to her wits’ end trying to keep the peace in Kensrik, the world’s largest empire; trying to spare the lives of subjects who don’t necessarily want to be ruled, who have difficulty viewing her reign as legitimate. For all her efforts, they may just banish her from Kensrik and embrace uncertainty.
Except it’s not just Kensrik facing a new and dire threat, one to whom the past conspirators threatening Chandra were mere puppets. No one has any idea what’s about to hit them, and no place in the world will be safe.
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Review by Diane Donovan
Everything is still in flux in The Crown Princess’ Voyage, which continues where The Gift-Knight’s Quest left off, with a struggle for dominance: a process that involves generations in a slow abiding search for peace and empowerment.
Against this backdrop, Princess Chandra Kenderley, who has inherited an uncertain crown under dubious conditions, finds herself and her magical abilities at odds with a world posed on a delicate tightrope of tension and possible war.
The kingdom’s precarious pivot point is well detailed, both socially and politically, in reflections as powerful in thought as they are in action: “But most of us are struggling to survive out here. People who can’t find or make work would traditionally try going to the Frontier, or try settling to the North-east of there, for example. If you can’t work, like my father, either you have a family to pick up the slack or you appeal to the ruling Council for a place to live. Or someone else appeals, for you. It’s interesting you should put it that way, though. The privacy of beggars; that’s a question you would never hear from someone born and raised in the spiritual tradition. They might never think to ask.”
As Chandra makes the journey that will change her perceptions and her life, events tumble towards an uncertain crescendo, all fueled by her determination to bide her time and do the right thing for both herself and her people: “She could not ignore an intuition that served her excellently so far, nor could she let these doubts and fears show. Especially not if someone unseen wanted her to feel scared, and might feel emboldened by such expressions. The one thing to do, the one thing Chandra knew by nature, was to remain alert and never stop thinking carefully.”
From how beliefs and traditions have stayed together over the years to why forces become immersed in struggles with the greater good in mind (“…if one person could construct so much wrong in the world, then perhaps he and his allies could work just hard enough to build some right. Human problems had human solutions.“), The Crown Princess’ Voyage stays true to the thought-provoking attention to detail of its predecessor but moves the saga along as the richness of the kingdom and its different peoples are thoroughly explored.
Even if an enemy is defeated, can those governing the kingdom ever rest easily or be truly happy? The forces that cause major protagonists to grow as individuals as they face paradigm-changing choices makes for a riveting, action-packed story whose progress is livelier than its predecessor, which set the foundation for a powerful story of invaders, patriots, and the clash between improbable forces and sorcery.
Fantasy fans who relish social and political insights against the backdrop of confrontation and intrigue will find The Crown Princess’ Voyage continues to hold tightly to and rests firmly upon its unique blend of attention to detail, complex character interactions, and a dialogue that keeps everything on track, making it a highly recommended pick for those seeking more than light fantasy reading.
(Source: Donovan’s Literary Services, May 2017)