A cunning trap. A whiff of magic. A burst of steam.
Princess Cordelia has steel plate ambition, a mind like twisting brass gears, and the political might of tin foil. The girl aims to ratchet the Iron Empire into a glorious new day of gears and steam. The entire palace is arrayed against her. The chambermaids disdain her. The emperor ignores her. The mages, championed by Lord Oriolanus, lead a brisk campaign of lies and coercion. Those evil magic users threaten to tighten their grip upon the land even though machines are clearly superior. By the gods’ oil-stained hands, why can’t anyone else see her vision of the ideal future?
Just when Cordelia’s future threatens to slip back into medieval quagmire, a lone stranger with ice blue eyes and flowing blond hair arrives from the savage north. The handsome barbarian is destined to make both the hearts of the empire and the princess tremble. Does this spell doom or salvation for the girl’s fragile dream?
A little about Jeffery first
The author lives on a farm and in a prior life worked as a community ecologist. He is overfond of puns and alliterations. He is also an unabashed history and mythology enthusiast. You can discover more about Jeffrey and his fantasy universe with his Newsletter Sign Up, Patreon, Goodreads, Bookbub, and Facebook.
Sherry Terry’s Review: 3-Stars
I feel torn with this story.
I am not a fan of the cover. I love the font, but not so much the girl holding a rat. The cover feels a little amateurish to me. The formatting was spot on.
The first chapter got my blood flowing with how a little girl could be so imaginative with a death maze for rats. I did understand the young girl, Cordella who is the daughter of the Emperor. She cares more about inventing new steam-machines than following her father’s demands that she marry. She has a strong mind and knows what she wants with the guts to go after it. However, I did not jell at all with her dark side. If you like dark, scary, you will enjoy The Scion’s Delight. Jeffery Bardwell is excellent at taking you there.
I felt Cordella’s age should be older. To me, she feels about twelve.
From the first word to the last, I winced and was surprised by how well Jeffery took me down roads less traveled by me.
This book needs editing. I feel that the majority of the sentences could be stronger with some tightening up. Characters get lost in the pronouns making it hard to tell who was doing what. And the main character didn’t really show much emotion, but in a way that made her more scary for me.
Honestly, the premise of the story is good. But the weak writing makes it 3-Stars from me.
Corinne Morier’s Review: Did Not Finish
When our group leader sent the list of books around and told us to vote on them, I read the Kindle sample of this book to see if I would like it. And I did. The first chapter is about Princess Cordelia (side note: I had to look up what her name is because I literally did not remember it) making a maze of some sort for rats with a strange manservant guy helping her. I was fairly confident that if the rest of the book was like that, I could easily give it a solid four stars, as long as the rest of the plot held up. So I said yes.
Then Chapter Two hits, and it’s Princess Cordelia sitting in a pretty boring council meeting as a bunch of other characters talk about things that make no sense to the reader, because after all, we have no context for them. Mages clearing away roads and machines and whatnot. Not only do we not get to have Cordelia react to anything, which both characterizes her for us and gives us clues as to how we should react, but at one point, one of the mages on the council praises machines for being convenient and he likes them. Which seemed to contradict what we were told in the blurb–that Cordelia is the one with the love of machines and the other people in the castle all want to push the country back to “medieval quagmire.”
Speaking of the blurb, it mentioned a “blond-haired mysterious barbarian from the north” who is what I assume would be a love interest for Cordelia. After all, he “makes her heart tremble.” So this entire time, I’m trying to connect what I’m reading (a boring council meeting that seems to have no bearing on anything) with what I know from the blurb (a foreigner comes from the north and he and Cordelia have a forbidden romance) Which is a trope I am TRASH for, by the way. Forbidden romances in fantasy? YAS GIVE ME ALL OF THAT.
I might have been able to get past this not-so-thrilling start to the story if the writing had been good. One very important rule I have for reading is I have to enjoy the reading experience. If I’m not loving what I’m reading, then I will definitely stop reading and pick up something else. And my other rule is that if I’m going to DNF (Did Not Finish) a book, it has to either greatly offend me in some way (eg. an abusive relationship) or it gets until the 25% mark to grab me in and not let me go.
This book didn’t offend me in any way, per se, but I gave up on it at about 23%. I just couldn’t force myself to read even a few more pages because the prose was just in such need of a good line editor. By 23%, I was marking so much stuff that I felt more like an editor and less like a reader. Characters “nodding” and “smiling” every five minutes, galloping headword syndrome multiple paragraphs within a single chapter (for the uninitiated, “galloping headword syndrome” is when multiple sentences in a row start the same way. In this case, “I did this.” Quite often, you’d have whole paragraphs of “I went over here. I smiled at the adviser. I thanked my father. I sat in the chair.” or sentences of that sort.), unclear prose galore, logical inconsistencies between chapters, punctuation errors everywhere, etc.
And the whole time I’m asking myself, “Well, where’s this mysterious stranger she’s supposed to meet?” It just felt like the entire story started too late because we don’t meet the mysterious stranger mentioned in the blurb until almost 30% into the story. (yes, I checked) And meanwhile, she’s being hit on by the slightly obese maid (?). I think? As well as being hit on by a lesbian concubine? I don’t know what happened to that.
(should be noted that although her age isn’t specified, she’s apparently “young” and has a love interest who is described as a “boy” who, when he puts on a dress, is able to pass himself off as a girl. So you’d assume she’s no older than fifteen or so. Maybe as young as twelve.)
So this is one of those books where if you like it and you enjoyed it, good for you. But I didn’t enjoy it, I don’t want to finish it, and I won’t be recommending this to anyone, as there are several other fantasy books I’d recommend instead if someone was looking for a good fantasy read.
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