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Book Review: The Torsere Trilogy, by Annabelle Jacobs

Torsere Trilogy

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Over two hundred years ago, when dragons were hunted for their blood, the King of Torsere offered them sanctuary. In return, the dragons bestowed a magical gift on the King’s people, allowing those born with the mark to become dragon riders and forge a mental connection between dragon and rider. Join King Ryneq and his sister, Cerylea, and Ryneq’s Consort, Nykin, as they battle to protect the kingdom of Torsere.

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Book – Torsere Trilogy

Author – Annabelle Jacobs

Star rating – ★★★★

No. of Pages – 642

Movie Potential – ★★★★

Ease of reading – easy to read, but a few mistakes

Would I read it again – Sort of. See individual story reviews for more.

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** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

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This whole trilogy was great. As a series that continues from one book to another, it’s so handy to have all three parts in one collection. There’s no time wasted backing up and opening a new book or having to go search for a second book to continue the story.

Which is just as well, because I couldn’t wait to find out more

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CAPTURE

Capture

1% to 27%

★★★★★

Right off the bat, this story was fantastic! We entered into it, right in the middle of the action and yet, I never felt as if I’d been dropped into a story I didn’t understand or couldn’t follow. As the story began to build, from a problem that Ryneq and his sister Cerylea faced with the safety of their kingdom, we’re gradually given all the information we need. History, characters and the location are all explained in appropriate dips of information that are placed in the perfect place, so that we learn everything as and when we need to know it.

The idea of the dragons and their riders being linked to each other through a tattoo granted to them at birth is really unique. I’ve read a lot of dragon stories, but none that have taken such a unique and intriguing direction before.

The characters of the story – Nykin and Ryneq – are brilliant. They both have their flaws and their strengths, but they’re both brave and strong in their own ways. Their chemistry is so obvious, right from the start, but in an understated way. The way they interact with each other and look at each other, even Ryneq’s jealousy over Fealon is wonderful. It all builds so well, until you begin to wonder how they haven’t noticed each other and their chemistry before. But, in another way, you’re glad they didn’t, because this is a much better way for them to bond and grow with each other.

What’s really wonderful is that it isn’t just the humans who have a bond. Nykin’s bond with his dragon Fimor is beautiful. The dragon is almost like a father-figure to him, guiding and teaching him, even correcting him when his young head gets too many bright ideas. The love and care they have for each other never feels wrong or misplaced or ridiculous. Fimor is as much of a main character as Nykin and Ryneq.

Even the Elves and Ryneq’s sister Cerylea are great characters. As small as they are, in terms of the overall story, they have a lot of influence, even when not in the scene. The same can be said for the torturers Hatak and Seran. Every character has their place and appropriate recognition – from Selene, to Eldin and the dragon riders, Morkryn, the Athisi and the Rodethians. Faelon and Avelor, for not having a big part, were actually my favourite of the side-characters.

The world building itself it incredible. From the dragons, the Eyrie, the feud with the Athisi and Rodethians and the incredible talents of Elven magic, there was nothing that felt out of place, odd or uncomfortable. With the modern speech and concepts, there was enough familiarity that the fantasy world itself began to weave into place over time and offer a sense of having been there before. In terms of other books that it may be similar to, I can only say it’s not like anything else, but that the concepts are as familiar and fantasy-like as Game of Thrones, R. Cooper’s The Winter Prince and even a little like C.N. Faust’s Age of Waking Death series.

I don’t want to say too much, to ruin the story or give spoilers, so all I’ll say is that I laughed, I cringed, I cried and the torture scenes got to me. I almost couldn’t believe that Nykin would do what he did, to save Ryneq and to get him back, but on the other hand, it was believable because their chemistry was palpable right from the start.

On the downside – there’s not much to say. There were a few small errors in editing (missing full stops, missing quotation marks etc) but the issues are so small that they’re not really important. The only time it jarred the reading was when quotation marks were missing or in the wrong place. There were also a few instances of the dragon conversations, which were normally in italics, not being in italics. That may it a little confusing as to whether it was Nykin or Fimor who was talking.

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Overall, I have to say that Capture was a great introduction to the Torsere world. It had enough drama, romance and storyline to make me lose track of time and stay desperate for more. There was never a time when I got to the end of a chapter or scene that I felt comfortable putting it down for any reason. I always knew something bad was coming, something good would happen in the midst of the chaos, and that I’d regret putting it down for one second. Right until the last page, there was something important happening.

I can’t wait to see what else is in store for Ryneq and Nykin.

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FAVOURITE QUOTE

“Nykin finally looked back at Ryneq again, with everything else he wasn’t saying written all over his face. I need you to do this. Ryneq’s heart stuttered. “I’ve done what I came here to do. Please don’t make it all for nothing.”

“He’d just survived an interrogation with one of the most ruthless soldiers he’d ever met, and yet he couldn’t handle a little gentle teasing from his own King.”

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UNION

Union

27% to 60%

★★★★

This story continues straight after part 1, which is really great, because that’s exactly what I’d hoped for, when I finished reading part 1.

To start with, I’ll get the negatives out the way – there were more mistakes in this one than the previous story. There were still missing full stops and quotation marks, but there were also a few missing words here and there and a few sentences that would have been really long, but made sense, were cut in two and sounded disconnected because of it. There was also an instance of Avelor being referred to as Lerran.

In terms of the story, the only negative is that it started really well, then flagged once they reached the Elven world of Alel and didn’t pick up again until 10% before the end of the story. Compared to the previous story, which was all action, adventure and danger, this one missed the excitement of that, because it focused more on the Union of Morkryn and Cerylea, as the title suggests, as well as Ryneq and Nykin’s relationship. Despite the threat of Seran being mentioned very early on, it never amounts to anything until the end, which is disappointing.

Another problem I had was the sex scene. It’s the first in the story and the first between Ryneq and Nykin. It really irked me that, despite Ryneq asking if he could top Nykin, he went ahead with a physical representation of that before he could agree, which he did. He also never asked if Nykin had bottomed before, beginning only with one thumb thrust where the sun don’t shine, without waiting for permission, then following up with two fingers. It felt a little rushed and not the tender moment we’d been led to expect. I’m not a fan of arrogance or assumptions in my sex scenes and this is how it came across, which is a shame because I’ve always loved Ryneq.

Now, onto the good. It’s true – I love Ryneq. I love Nykin and was so relieved that my favourite side characters from the previous book were back – Faelon and Avelor, with much bigger parts. All the characters had a new, added dimension to them that we didn’t get to see in part 1, but which further build on what we knew of them.

At the same time, when it’s appropriate, we’re given a refresher of the history and important information that we learned in part 1, without it sounding like a recap of the entire previous story or being out of place. Reading this straight after reading part 1, I never felt like I have having the entire story of part 1 shoved back down my throat again, as if it had been months. But, if it had been months since I read part 1, I would still have been adequately reminded of the most important events of that part of the story, without needing to go back and re-read it.

As always, Ryneq and Nykin’s relationship is beautiful. It’s great that, even when they’re not the only people they can trust, they still talk openly about their feelings, plans and Ryneq’s responsibilities as King. Misunderstandings happen and they keep secrets when necessary, but they always talk it out with each other and try to see the other side. I really love that.

I also love that Eldin and the rest of the kingdom, guards and riders don’t treat Nykin any differently, for being in a relationship with Ryneq. No one really cares that he’s the King’s Consort, because he’ll always be a dragon rider first and foremost. Which is exactly what Nykin and Ryneq want.

Again, the world building of the Elven world Alel is outstanding. There’s still a smattering of action and adventure for the first 20% of the story, then it tails off into more personal, political business. Mostly, the story is about learning as much as they can about the Elven people and their kingdom.

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Overall, this one lost the impact of part 1, because the faltered so much into being too comfortable with the Alel world, in the middle. It started and ended with good promise and the same enthralling detail and story telling of part 1, but the middle part really let it down for me and that’s where I took the star from.

Like my review of part 1, I really can’t say much about the plot without giving away spoilers, which I’m sorry for. Just know that Fimor and the elves are just as amazing as before, Ryneq’s jealousy is entertaining and Nykin’s childlike curiosity is contagious. Though there wasn’t nearly enough action for me, I was still glued to the story throughout.

To me, part 1 was a complete story in itself. The same can’t be said for this one. It feels like the first half of a much longer story, which I assume – and hope – will be continued in part 3.

I still can’t wait to read part 3, though, because I just know that the slow progress of this story was a build up for something big in part 3. Or, I hope it is.

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Favourite Quote

“Nykin nudged his arm. “Do you trust me?”

Ryneq looked at the sky a moment longer before turning back to face Nykin. “With my life.”

“Then ride with me back to Torsere.””

“Ryneq loved to watch him like that, animated and so full of life. He was still haunted by images from when they’d been Hatak’s prisoners – when Nykin was broken and tortured almost to death. It would take a long while before Ryneq could get those images out of his head, but seeing Nykin as was now made it a little easier to push them away.”

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ALLIANCE

Alliance

60% to 100%

★★★☆☆

This one didn’t sit well with me. There was quite a lot wrong with it that didn’t have to be. Saying that, however, there was enough of the original characters, plot and feeling of the two previous books to keep me happy. I just think it could have been better.

For me, book 3 is nothing more than the second half of book 2. The two should have been one book, with one complete storyline, the way that book 1 was. However, that’s not the case. Book 3 acts more like the missing parts of book 2; the action, adventure and danger that was missing from the previous book. It’s all been crammed into this one – much shorter – story, so much so that it doesn’t really work out the way that book 1 did. There’s no balance.

Irritatingly, the characters also seemed to have developed supreme short-sightedness, as well as a case of terminal stupidity. Things that are mentioned, quite cleary, as being important are conveniently “forgotten” or never mentioned again, until it fits neatly into the plot. I can’t tell if we’re expected to not notice the importance of them, which is kind of stupid, or if we’re supposed to believe that Ryneq is really that stupid, busy or ignorant of their importance.

I can get over Ryneq being stupid enough not to see the second spy – even though I knew they were a spy in book 2 – since it was never glaringly obvious until near the end. But, I absolutely refuse to accept that he’s ignorant enough to forget something important – that he demanded an answer to, during an interrogation – when it was staring him right in his face and had been vocalised. Yet, he never once brought it up or thought about it again until it had already happened. Ryneq has NEVER been so shortsighted, ignorant or irresponsible before, in any of the books and it irritated me to see it happen here.

There was a big change in a lot of the characters, which was really unsettling. Ryneq was ridiculously stupid, when he’d never been before, Nykin was a little more pathetic and prone to overreacting, which had never happened before and it all left me really unsettled. By the time I was halfway through this story, I didn’t care how much action was in it, I just wanted it to be over soon. It felt so much like it was being dragged out, in a way that was unbelievable and unnatural, when the first two books had been so evenly plotted. It felt too much like the author realised they didn’t have a lot of space left in the first half, so tried to cram too much into it, then realised they actually had more space than they thought by the second half, so they dragged it out a little longer.

Maybe my big problem is that books 1 and 2 in the trilogy build up my expectations too high. Whatever the reason, this one lacked so much that it didn’t have to. If it had been combined with book 2 – with the action replacing some of the more lovey-dovey stuff that was over done in the previous story – then it could have been an epic ending to a two-part series. However, because it was three books, there was a lot of faffing about and cramming in whatever could fit into a short space. There was also a lot of repetition – both with Ryneq’s captivity, the arguments and misunderstandings between him and Nykin, as well as the day to day activities.

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Overall, book 3 should have been the big bang of the series, the masterful closing of a trilogy. Instead, it tried too hard to answer all those unanswered questions, to tell us a million and one things, and to make sure everything was tied off in a nice little bow.

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Favourite Quote

“He ran his hands over the hot skin of Nykin’s chest, watching the way Nykin trembled under his touch and ignoring the desperation threatening to surface. Despite all his wishes to the contrary, Ryneq couldn’t shake the feeling that this was good-bye.”

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OVERALL

For me, book 1 is the crowning glory of the trilogy and it will be the one that I’d happily come back to time and again. Book 2 comes a close second, although it has so much of the Elven world and not enough actual plot driving that it didn’t really capture my attention as heavily. Book 3 is the poorest, due to trying too hard to finalise the series.

I don’t understand why book 2 was the longest (or at least read as the longest) of the books, when it didn’t really do much to drive the story forward. Sure, it was nice to see the Elven world and I loved seeing Faelon and Avelor again, but looking back on it now that I’m finished the trilogy, I can see a lot of it easily being removed and replaced with the action-packed adventure of book 3. Perhaps if they had been combined into a more comfortable, well paced story the way book 1 was, then I wouldn’t be left leaving this trilogy feeling disappointed.

But I am. I feel like book 1 was the best part of this trilogy and, having read books 2 and 3, I’m not missing that sensual, well plotted, character driven adventure that somehow fizzled into too much fantasy shenanigans and not enough plot based progression. Yes, a lot happened in book 3, but it was all thrown together so haphazardly, mixed with things that felt unnatural to the story, the characters and made both look a little ridiculous that it removed all the good stuff from the front of my mind and left me wondering why.

I’m sad to say that if I ever pick up this trilogy book again, I’ll be ending my read at the very satisfying, very lovely end of book 1. That is where this book’s heart lies and it’s where the characters, plot and foundations are the purest.

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