Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.
As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.
Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.
“Not you without me, not me without you”
This book is so bad.
So basically if you don’t like instalove, don’t read this book. (Actually, don’t read this book at all). Right in the beginning, Branwen saves this guy Tristan who is apparently from her enemy kingdom by pulling him out of the ocean and dragging him to her super secret cave that she’s never shown anyone before because…? Anyways, then she gives him CPR which is basically omg so sexy so hot wow and then she flirts with him which makes them basically in love (when her cousin later tells her she’s never been courted before she’s thinking about those, like, three flirty phrases she’s said and acting like that’s being courted). I mean, they’re not fully in love until about 50 pages, which only feature Tristan for about 20 of them.
Also, she’s so in love with him that she would literally her uncle die than him. ??? Family is supposed to be first. I mean, I get it if, I don’t know, she built up a meaningful relationship with him and her uncle is this abusive monster or whatever, but she’s literally known him for like a week? (I actually don’t know how long it’s never specified but that’s what it felt like to me lol)
WHAT? WHY? I have literally never read a more instalove book than this at least that cliche love at first sign trope is unabashedly love at first sight this is like pretending that they built up a meaningful relationship blah blah blah.
ALSO. Don’t even get me STARTED on how CPR is romantic?? Like??? No??? It’s forcing air into someone who has stopped breathing. You can break someones ribs if you’re doing it right. But it’s described as the “kiss of life” and when Branwyn is performing it she’s literally described as “she kissed him harder.” ????? no
Anyways, in addition to the instalove, this entire book was basically a show not tell example gone wrong. Branwyn and Tristan are enemies. Their respective countries are enemies. How do I know this? Because it’s repeatedly bashed into your brain every ten seconds. There’s one, like, one page long scene that shows his country invading her country or something, in a flashback. It’s one page out of almost 500 and other than that there’s literally NO REASON or NO SIGN that they should be enemies besides Branwyn not being able to shut up.
Anyways, despite the fact that we are repeatedly told over and over again that they’re enemies, there’s even less than no sign of it, there’s sign of the opposite? (Does that even make sense: not really). There’s this tournament joust thing and Tristan is competing to win the hand of the Crown Princess Esualt and he’s just like chill and welcome and nobody is fazed or bats an eye over the fact that their huge enemy is there chilling with the other knights to marry their princess? Whose people apparently killed tons of their people but like whatever?
AND THEN apparently this is because if he secures a marriage with Esualt and his king there will be peace?? What?? Oh yeah, we’ve slaughtered hundreds of each others people, hundreds of dead soldiers and casualties, but it’s chill, as long as we ship the princess off to be married we’re all going to be friends and sing kumbaya.
I don’t get it. You can’t be both enemies and friends at the same time.
Furthermore, this peace that is coming about from this marriage thing is such a big thing that poser Branwyn is like obsessed with it? She’s all like I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR PEACE but I’m like girl no you don’t care about anyone except for yourself. She does something terrible “for the peace” like that justifies it but I swear she literally doesn’t care. I don’t know, maybe if she was a little more likable I would be like WOW TORTURED MORALLY GREY I LOVE CHARACTER but instead I’m like PLEASE DIE.
Finally, let’s talk about how terrible our girl Branwyn is. Her cousin (she’s pretty immature too, mind you, but she almost seems perfect in comparison to the raging mess that was Branwyn) is getting married off to their “enemy” even though she’s in love with someone else so, understandably, she’s upset. And then Branwyn won’t shut up about how she’s horrible for threatening the peace blah blah blah when at the same time she’s in love with this guy and she’s like I’d do anything for you you are my life and soul. Hypocrite much?
Anyways, at the ending she gets pretty much screwed over and it’s partially her own fault. It’s supposed to be this huge reveal and huge betrayal but it was totally her fault and I was like laughing at her and like hahaha in your FACE you deserve it.
One last thing you should know: there are many times when the main characters almost died but they DIDN’T! I’m! So! Upset! Like, just die already. You know it’s a bad book when you’re actively rooting for the main characters to die.
★.5 / 5