Book Review : The Trouble With Kings
By Sherwood Smith
Princess Flian finds herself the unwilling object of desire of three royals. Is the one she wants a villain–or a hero?
Waking up in a strange place, Flian Elandersi at first doesn’t know who she is. One wicked prince tells her she is secretly engaged to an even more wicked king who wants to marry her right away. But before that happens, yet another wicked prince crashes through a window on horseback to sweep her off her feet.
Memory returns, and Flian realizes that all any of them seem to want is her considerable wealth, not her pleasant-but-ordinary self. She longs to escape the barracks-like, military atmosphere and return to civilization and her musical studies.
Flian endures another abduction, this time in the middle of a poetry reading. Who is the villain? Prince Garian Herlester–languid, elegant, sarcastic? Prince Jaim–he of the dashing horsemanship? Or King Jason Szinzar, whose ambiguous warning might be a threat?
Flian decides it’s time to throw off civilization and take action. The problem with action is that duels of wit turn into duels of steel–and love can’t be grabbed and galloped away. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
I was fully expecting this one to be too silly to enjoy, and I’m happy to report that I was wrong. The Trouble With Kings falls between Crown Duel and A Stranger To Command (also published in 2008) in reading difficulty. It is fully appropriate for a teenage audience and is full of fun. I could easily read this book again.
Flian has flaws that she works to overcome. She also comes to value her strengths, and is very much a coming of age book. The kings and prince who kidnap her also have flaws, one has a more fatal flaw than the others. I really enjoy characters who aren’t perfect! One of the kings, who will not be named to avoid spoilers, could be considered a Byronic hero because he is dark and brooding, needs to be saved by the angelic female and has an unexplained mysterious past. However he does not have any missing wives locked in an attic tower.
The supporting characters are also varied and interesting. Prince Jaim’s sister has a deep prejudice of her own brother – the King – which seems so plausible since we always know our own siblings foibles. She is also fun and passionate with a mercurial personality. One of the court beauties in another kingdom, and a queen’s sister, is selfish, self serving and oblivious to others. She is easily distinguishable from a court beauty in Flian’s home country who is manipulative and spiteful, and entirely self absorbed in a different way.
Sherwood Smith has included music in The Trouble With Kings, which adds another element of interest. Flian’s musical understanding reflects the progress of the plot. I’m not particularly musical, but I enjoyed the music through this novel. I love the small points of philosophy she includes in her novels.
3.75 out of 5 stars
- the Mother
If you liked this one you might like The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler and The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. For a younger audience try Dragonsinger and Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey.