I was mildly leery of reading Crown of Draga by Emma Dean. I hadn’t read the first, and I have been burned a few times recently by poorly written stories under the “reverse harem” label. So I requested this book…and then put it off…and put it off…and put it off. I finally, after reading quite a bit of heavy stuff, decided some ‘fluff’ was in order. Crown was everything I needed and didn’t know. First, I read both book 1 and book 2 of this series in 2 days. I DEVOURED it. The pacing is amazing, the character development was stellar, and the world and politics blew my mind.
The first thing you notice is that this is not a romance sci-fi. It is a sci-fantasy that is heavy in romance. It’s even heavier in politics and story, though. I actually sat down and started taking notes because I NEEDED to keep track of all the people and their loyalties. Book one starts you out with a good base understanding, but Dean manages to blow a few of those out of the water in book 2. Crown this is definitely not a book for the people who want fluff. It’s kind of like, if A Song of Ice and Fire took place in space…with a hint of Kushiel. There is SO MUCH going on, that I’m sure I probably missed something important more than once, but that’s okay because Dean is a master at reminding you when it’s needed.
The twisting and turning of characters in this series makes my head spin, but in that delightful “Is she or isn’t she an ally?” way. And the women in this series are strong, and never in the same way. Raena, Adelina, Giselle, Josslynn, Veri, Nadyah, Jael. They’re all SO DIFFERENT, and yet they show the myriad of ways that women can be portrayed as strong characters–whether it’s through subterfuge, straight power, or using their own weaknesses to their advantage. I have not been this impressed with an author’s ability to weave complex and varied characters in a long time. Each one is definitely her own person and separate. There is no question who is speaking when. Adelina and Veri both grow and change so much in such a short time, but it is never a change from their base character. The characteristics that make me distrust Veri are still there, along with the ones that make me love Adelina. The myriad of differing types of relationships among the women make for a fantastic read, as well. Josslynn’s insights with Nadyah’s knowledge and the strain between Adelina and Raena as they try to balance being sisters with being Royals is so well-executed.
This book will tug at your heartstrings, make you gasp in horror and fear, and demand that you sit up and pay attention. The intensity of the climate combined with the strict politics and hierarchy makes for an engrossing read that will keep you begging for more. I had a serious book hangover after this…complete with real headache. I even had a full-body shudder at the end of one chapter to release the tension. I definitely recommend you add this one to your shelves.