Title: Once A King
Author: Erin Summerill
Genre & Themes: Fantasy
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Aodren: A lonely, young king, searching for a way to dismantle his father’s dark legacy.
Lirra: A girl with the power to control the wind, torn between duty and following her dreams
For twenty years, Channelers—women with a magical ability—have been persecuted in Malam by those without magic. Now King Aodren wants to end the bloody divide and unite his kingdom. But decades of hatred can’t be overcome by issuing decrees, and rumors of a deadly Channeler-made substance are only fueling people’s fears. Lirra has every reason to distrust Aodren. Yet when he asks for help to discover the truth behind the rumors, she can’t say no. With Lirra by his side, Aodren sees a way forward for his people. But can he rewrite the mistakes of the past before his enemies destroy the world he’s working so hard to rebuild?
I really liked the writing style. It was reminiscent of C.J. Redwine, while still having it’s own flavor.* It had a good balance between dialogue, character arcs and world building – there’s no info dumping in this one!
*Yes, I did just refer to words having “flavor”. IT SEEMED RIGHT OKAY
Storyline & Plot
Summerill seems to be a master at hinting at things. So many small references and scenes hinted at the real story, and only made sense once you got more context at the end. And I never suspected it was anything until the climax!
I may just be gullible tbh
I absolutely love when a story does this, and I don’t see it very often in YA fantasy. The answer as to why is probably bc most writers sacrifice story for characters.
Which is a rant for a different time
I really loved Lirra and Aodren! (I also just love the name Aodren – sounds like it’s from Tolkein).
I like books that gives you reason to connect to and like all the characters, and not just the protagonists. Nobody was there as just a filer – every character had a role, which I loved.
Also, this might be weird, but I like diversity in villains. There were antagonists that I hated and some that I could empathize with.
Leif and Lirra’s connection was something I absolutely loved. I think family relations beyond just immediate family is lacking in YA. Lirra and her brothers and step-mother are nice, but I liked how we branched out.
As far as Lirra and Aodren…I stan. The romance, again reminded me of C.J. Redwine, but it was slightly different.
(C.J. Redwine tends to focus on characters becoming friends first, which is one of the reasons I love her books. This one didn’t really do that to the same degree)
The characters personalities are so defined that it makes the romance so much better. Because you actually understand why they like each other!
I really think I missed so much of it…because I skipped the first two books.
Look, it’s supposed to be a standalone! I thought I could get by without reading the Ever The Hunted duology.
But battles and history – which presumably was in the original duology, were referenced often.
And I kept questioning whether or not the characters I was reading about had been in the original – every side character mentioned seemed to have a backstory that connected to what I know of EtH.
So while it was slightly confusing, and the map didn’t help, I don’t know if that’s just me. The same way you’d be confused about the Grisha world if you started with Six of Crows (which*ahem* I also did).
What did you think of Once a King?