Sunday, April 1, 2012

Book Review: Warrior Princess by Allan Frewin Jones

Warrior Princess

Allan Frewin Jones

"you can be a warrior, if you choose to be."

It takes just a moment for fifteen-year-old Branwen's life to change forever. In the blink of an eye the Saxons attack and her brother is killed. Almost as quickly, she is sent away from her home to a neighboring stronghold where she'll be safe from harm. Now Branwen lives as a princess should--surrounded by exquisite things and lavish quarters. But deep down remains the soul of a warrior.
Just when Branwen is sure she has been pushed to her limits, a chance encounter with a mystical woman in white forces her to question everything--and everyone--around her. With no time to lose, Branwen must make a choice: continue in the path her parents intended for her . . . or step into the role of true Warrior Princess.

When reading the synopsis for this book, two other books jumped into my mind, one is a historical fiction book I adored when I was younger, The Edge on the Sword by Rebecca Tingle and the Helen of Troy series that starts with Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner. For some reason I've always been drawn the ass kicking heroine in a time period where she can't be and is expected not to be. (Yes I am excited for Pixar's Brave to come out).

I will admit I was not exactly sure if I wanted to read it however due to the fact that I had found Frewin Jone's Faerie Path series strangely lacking and I was afraid it was due to the author's style and not to the plot itself.

But it was put on my recommendation list just one to many times and so out from the library it came and into my hands.

For the most part I enjoyed the book, my favourite thing about it was hands down the cultural difference between Branwen's family and the "rest of the country". In fact I was all on board with that being the main challenge she had to overcome and that she would go and teach the kingdom she was going to go marry into the value of being warrior girl and all that.

Unfortunately that's not quite the direction the author planned on going for now.

I did find the characters and writing more capturing than Faerie Path, which I was happy about, there were many times the writing style caught me up and only the few points where it felt forced to me did I get taken out of it.

In Depth Spoiler Review
I seriously could have done with the entire Rhiannon part and the old ones. I actually felt that Branwen ran from a challenge rather than meeting it in accepting to be the Warrior Princess. I wanted there to be a "different cultures are not bad, just different" moral to happen and I felt like it was skirted because there must be mythological fantasy magic! I also had a hard time believing that one day of official training was enough so that she could survive fighting alongside her mother in battle, that felt forced, as did the ending where she chose between her father and mother, I couldn't help but wonder "Why? What is the point of this?" And then instead of facing the consequences of that choice she goes and runs off to be the 'Warrior Princess' because she's super special.

I found the first half of this book so enchanting, even if some of the characters were a bit flat I enjoyed them and I liked the idea and setting, but then I felt like I got derailed.

I enjoyed reading this book, but I'm not sure I would reread it and I'm also not sure I want to read the next book in the series or not. Part of the reason being I read it to fulfill a historical fiction with a kickass heroine scratch, and so the inclusion of fantasy elements truly through me off from enjoying it.

If you like Druidic Mythology and kickass heroines (even if they side on a bit of the cliché side) I do recommend this book however. My rant under the In Depth Spoiler Review aside I did enjoy most of this book and I do feel like it's a step up from the Faerie Path series. I do warn not to get too caught up in the historical fiction part of it however, for that is not the main point of this novel.



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