Reviewed by Nikyta J.
TITLE: Dragon Slayer (Book #1)
SERIES: The Empty Crown
AUTHOR: Isabella Carter
PUBLISHER: Less Than Three Press
BLURB: Ingram is a coward and weakling—at least according to his father, the king, and the royal court. He cannot use a sword, he faints at the sight of blood, and even his brilliant abilities as a strategist are not enough to overcome his failings. When his father loses a bet to the notorious Lord Mallory over the matter of a dragon slaying, he pays his debt by ordering Ingram to marry him.
Then his father reveals that he is putting Ingram to a greater purpose, giving Ingram one last chance to prove he is not worthless. All it requires is betraying his new husband.
According to the King, Ingram is worthless as a prince. He can’t use a sword, barely knows how to fight and faints at the sight of blood. But under that ‘weakling’ exterior, he’s a magnificent strategist with a soft heart that just wants what’s best for his kingdom. When the King loses a bet to a foe, Ingram suddenly finds himself wedded to Lord Mallory and his life turns upside down. Not only does he have to leave his home, and his beloved siblings, for Mallory’s lands but he finds himself forced to play spy for his father to accuse Mallory of a rebellion that hasn’t even happened yet. As time progresses and Mallory and Ingram get closer, will Ingram be able to betray his husband or will he finally stick up for himself and do what’s right?
These characters were fun to read about. I loved Ingram because of how naive he was in the beginning. He just wanted to be loved and accepted by the King but everything he accomplished and did never lived up to the King’s expectations. He’s sweet but innocent and I loved the journey in his development of who he was and the courage that was always inside of him. Mallory is more of a mystery. From the beginning Ingram constantly questions why Mallory chose him and that made me wonder as well. I liked Mallory, although I wished we knew more about him, but I loved that while he didn’t verbally tell Ingram about his feelings, it was there in his actions and his expressions with his courtship. The two of them together are just so sweet and their personalities fit perfectly, IMO.
The story revolves, at first, around uncovering whether Mallory is using Ingram and whether he’s starting a rebellion. As the story progresses, however, we slowly get into Ingram’s self-discovery and his developing relationship with Mallory. It’s a slow read that doesn’t have the traditional sense of romance. I’d consider it ‘light’ in romance even though there is an obvious courtship that spans the whole book. It’s the start of a new series so there’s, of course, the build up to what I imagine will come next. It’s filled with surprises and I kept wondering what would happen next and the last half of the book literally had been an anxious mess with the intensity and twists associated with it. By the end, while it leaves with a set up for the next book, I couldn’t help but feel I was taken on a wild ride that I can’t wait to continue. More than that, I adored the secondary characters as well. Ingram’s siblings were touching while Mallory’s people, Aiden and Eirlys, were enchantingly grumpy individuals that had me chuckling a few times over their antics.
While I loved this story, I can’t deny it had its faults. For one, I was confused a lot on who or what some of the characters were talking about because no explanations were given on it. For instance, well into the story, Mallory brings up Cormac a few times but we don’t know who that is. More than that, I had to wonder, considering Ingram’s heritage, why did it take so long for him to come into his powers when Ella was able to use hers so freely? In regards to Ingram, there are a lot of questions I still have left over that I’m hoping will be answered in the sequel. My only other issue is that when things were just getting interesting, the scene would end and Ingram would wake up somewhere else which left me wondering what happened during the blacked out period. I’m not referring to sex here but fighting scenes and the like. I was a tad disappointed that we didn’t get to see things played out between those lags of time.
Overall, this was a fantastic read. It’s a slightly slow book that is light on romance but sweet in its intensity all the same. I loved the characters and I loved how much potential depth there is to the world this author created. I was on the edge of my seat a few times and the farther I got into the story, the more I wanted to know what happened next especially since it gets intense in the last half of the book. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series and I think readers who enjoy fantasies that are easy to read will enjoy this one as well.
Nikyta J. is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.
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