The Waterborne Blade by Susan Murray
The citadel has long been the stronghold of Highkell. All that is about to change because the traitor, Vasic, is marching on the capital. Against her better judgement, Queen Alwenna allows herself to be spirited away by one of the Crown's most trusted servants, safe from the clutches of the throne's would-be usurper.
Fleeing across country, she quickly comes to learn that her pampered existence has ill-equipped her for survival away from the comforts of the court. Alwenna must toughen up, and fast, if she is even to make it to a place of safety. But she has an even loftier aim - for after dreaming of her husband's impending death, Alwenna knows she must turn around and head back to Highkell to save the land she loves, and the husband who adores her, or die in the attempt.
But Vasic the traitor is waiting. And this was all just as he planned.
The Waterborne Blade by Susan Murray
Waterborne Series #1
Adult Fiction / Fantasy
On Sale May 5, 2015 by Angry Robot
Paperback, 512 pages
My rating: 3 of 5 Stars
The Waterborne Blade by Susan Murray is the first book in a new fantasy series which caught my eye with its gorgeous cover and exciting premise. I had very high hopes for this series and was ready to fall head-over-heels with it. The story has an interesting fantasy setting that I enjoyed with a touch of dark magic and political intrigue that kept me on edge. Unfortunately though, I did not connect well with the heroine nor the romance as much as I had hoped to.
The story opens with Alwenna fleeing from Highkell at her husband's command as the citadel is under an attack by a traitor named Vasic who wants the throne of Highkell and Alwenna as his wife.
The setting of The Waterborne Blade was interesting and I liked the overall medieval feel given to the story, though it felt slow moving in the beginning. Much of the time is spent traveling as Alwenna is led by the King's Man, a royal guard named Weaver, fleeing to a sanctuary located on a small island off of its Norther Coast. Once there, suddenly there is a new threat with deathly omens and betrayals, sending Alwenna back to the very place we spend such a large chunk in the beginning running from.
I did enjoy the interesting plot threads dealing with magic and even sorcery. Alwenna seems to come from a long line of seers and has a family history that is notorious for its dark magic. A prophecy also seems to warn against her. All this captured my attention, but I would have loved more explanation. Besides betrayals and intrigue, there was a strange and unexpected, almost paranormal aspect I really wanted to know more about.
The most difficult issue I came across in The Waterborne Blade was the fact that I never really felt connected to Alwenna through the entire story. Alwenna's voice just felt cold and indifferent to me which made it hard for me to ever warm up to her as a character. In the beginning of the story when on the run she exuded a combination of aloofness towards her husband Tresilian, the one who supposedly adores her, and indifference to the royal guard Weaver who is entrusted with her safety. As the story progressed, I did see changes in her that I liked, mainly a new appreciation for Weaver and loyalty to her husband when she tries to go back and help him, but not the connection to her I had hoped for.
The romance was confusing for me as well. I suspect Alwenna suffered an arranged marriage and her relationship with Trisilian felt like it. There is no time to get to know them as a couple as she is literally thrust, within pages of the story, away from him and on the run. She suddenly finds herself in a situation with the kings guard as well as being sought after by the traitor Vasic. Each one seems to want/need/or possess Alwenna, yet betray her in different ways and I could not emotionally find myself wishing for any of them to end up with her romantically.
Overall the aspect I found most appealing in the story was the dark magic and strange sorcery sprinkled throughout and the political intrigue as plots are hatched to take over the throne of Highkell. Despite my inability to connect well with Alwenna and the romance, other readers may enjoy this for the unique fantasy it is.