“Book Review: Rise of the Tobian Princess”
Reviewed by Alexandria Ducksworth
Armed with wizard-level storytelling, author D.L. Gardner thrives in this action-packed female-led fantasy adventure
There is nothing quite like an unexpected hero.
A great evil is rising steadily toward the magnificent Tellwater Kingdom. King Tobias is sending troops to ward off the dreaded skura who are causing chaos wherever they go. But when Princess Erika follows her brother to battle the skura and defend their home, she ignites the most prominent change of her known world—she kills the Cho Nisi king by accident.
Ridden with guilt, she travels to the Cho Nisi kingdom to clear things up. But things are about to get even more complicated—as Arell, the son of the fallen king, falls in love with her. How will he react once he discovers she is his father’s killer?
Meanwhile, the leader of the skura is bringing his army closer to Tellwater and Cho Nisi. It’s only a matter of time before both kingdoms unite to battle this common enemy.
The storytelling in this novel is wonderful. D.L. Gardner brings readers all the familiar fantasy-adventure elements we love—wizards, powerful kingdoms, whispers of legendary dragons—but it also keeps things fresh, particularly in how effective the themes are of powerful women doing powerful things even though they’re not expected to.
Princess Erika is entirely different from her royal sisters. While the pampered sisters prefer the court life, Erika prefers battles and adventures outside of her kingdom. King Tobias and Prince Barin are accepting of this unusual preference up until the moment she kills the Cho Nisi king. They are soon filled with regret and wondering if she was ever really meant to hold a bow and arrow in the first place.
Rise of the Tobian Princess asks the question, “What is a woman’s real place?”
And it answers back: it does not matter.
Gardner’s story reminds me of the great Tamora Pierce’s Alanna: The First Adventure. Like that novel, we have a strong female lead who’s better off as a knight than some of the male knights could ever be. This is particularly true in regards to King Tobias’s dependence on Prince Barin. Without Erika, Tobias’s kingdom (and the Cho Nisi) would have fallen. This story of a strong female warrior is a testament to how women have the strength to hold major positions—and to save us all.
The romance between Arell and Erika is a strong and well-balanced one. It recognizes its role as a secondary storyline, but it still gives us enough narrative moments where it makes itself known, where we know there could be something brewing here. These characters have time to get to know each other and to develop a strong deeper relationship we all hope for in fantasy romances.
Overall, Rise of the Tobian Princess is a nicely packaged fantasy adventure with a good secondary romance. There’s never a dull moment in here; it’s jam-packed with monumental events and action to look forward to. Princess Erika is one hero that readers are going to be thrilled to discover.
Genre: Fantasy / Romance
Print Length: 340 pages
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