Here’s the story. To spice up my reading life, I try to pick a random book by an author I’d never heard of whenever I’m at the library. I usually aim for two or three from a to be read list I keep on my phone, but let fate decide the last book.
That’s how I picked Rule by Ellen Goodlett. I’m really glad this worked out, because I love this book and plan on adding it to my shelf soon.
This will be a spoiler-free review.
From the Goodreads page:
Three girls with three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.
The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.
Or rather, three unexpected options.
Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.
Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.
Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.
When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.
A book with three diverse female protagonists? Yes, please.
I loved all three of them. Zofi, Akeylah, and Ren are completely different, from other worlds and backgrounds, with contrasting strengths and weaknesses, and varied outlooks on the world. All three have pretty big secrets, and I thought the way those secrets were woven into the plot was done in a lovely way.
My one minor criticism is that I didn’t really connect with the secondary characters. In fact, I’m sitting here writing this review and can remember lines of dialogue or cool scenes that stood out, but I’m not really sure about any of the secondary characters’ names, aside from the king’s twin sister.
Still, we have three protagonists who are well-rounded and pack enough of a punch to carry the novel and then some.
The magic system is so cool. I really loved Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician Trilogy, and the magic in Rule reminded me of that. The ways magic is used by people from the different Reaches is smart, with each group having developed their own techniques kept secret from the other Reaches.
The plot is fairly straightforward, but the intrigue in the characters’ heads more than makes up for that. Also, there’s a twist at the end that is just delicious.
I have to mention the gorgeous cover. It’s seriously one of my favourites, but then, I’m a big fan of red, black, and gold as a trio on anything. Not a big fan of the unfinished page edges. I’ve been seeing this more frequently in hardcovers, and I don’t know if I’m the only one who doesn’t like this? Smooth, perfectly cut pages for me, please. 😀
If you’re into court intrigue, secrets, magic, and fabulous female characters, this is the place to find it.