Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Updated: The Golden Dynasty

Soooo…I don’t tend to re-read books. Once I read them they go into something similar to the Disney Vault. This I find ironic since I am a consummate book buyer. I rarely borrow or rent my books. One would think this is because I would like to read them again and again. Before my kindle, I preferred hard back books and have 3 bookcases full of the beauties. Now with my kindle, I still buy but have nothing so pretty as a library to show for it. But this is neither here nor there. The point is that besides my beloved Emilie Loring books that my mother introduced me to, I never re-read a book.

When I initially read The Golden Dynasty, I gave it 4 stars. Normally, I give all Kristen Ashley books 5 stars, but because of some of the elements in this book, I didn’t like it so much. This book takes place not just in another world, but in a savage, brutal culture. There are many things in their culture that they find acceptable that in today’s society, we would abhor. I first read this book one year ago and wrote my review like normal. But then something happened. I kept thinking about The Golden Dynasty and not just thinking about it, but thinking about it fondly. I wanted to read it again. My TBR pile is ginormous and haunts my dreams, but The Golden Dynasty and Circe and Lahn haunted my waking hours. I was in the middle of another book, when I finally broke down and pulled The Golden Dynasty up on my kindle again and started reading. For those of you familiar with Kristen Ashley books, you know they are not small. They are usually 500-600 pages. I gulped down this second reading in less than three days. They three days didn’t have a lot of free time as I was visiting a friend in Chicago, but at night when my husband and my friend had passed out in front of the TV, this sober gal woke everyone up, tucked them in and snuck off to bed where she proceeded to read into the wee hours.

Everything that I didn’t like the first time was there, but I was able to read it with a different attitude this time. I still didn’t like it. This culture holds the warrior above all else and while wives are revered, they are still second to warriors. Even as a queen, Circe could be put to death for holding a knife to a warrior (one who unequivocally deserved to be gutted…oh my I think I just turned a little savage myself there!).

So obviously I must change my 4 star review to a 5 star. I’ve never re-read another Kristen Ashley book, and have no memory (outside of Emilie Loring) of re-reading another author’s work. There is something so magical about this story.

I read a lot of reviews of people saying that this book was their favorite out of the three books. It was a great story and the beginning had me riveted, however, there were at least two times where I stopped reading it for a while.

Circe lives in Seattle, goes to sleep in her own bed and wakes up in a pen with a bunch of women. She found a woman who spoke English and was explained that she was a part of the Korwahk Wife Hunt. Basically, it's what it sounds like. The women are set free and the men hunt them down. Circe attracts the attention of the savage Korwak king and is brutally fought over.

The rest of the story is King Lahn's struggle to win his queen's heart and Circe's struggle to adapt to a brutal culture. They don't speak the same language and have vastly different cultures and customs. There is a warrior who hates Circe and beats and humiliates his own wife. This was hard to read, but it made it so very easy to hate Dortak. Of course, the evil Dortak challenges the King to a fight to the death which would mean Circe being at Dortak's mercy. The Korwak's thought Circe was their True Golden Queen.

The ending when Lahn found out about Circe being from another world broke my heart. It was written so well I felt like I could feel Circe's pain. She said exactly what I wanted her to say to him (which is rare).

What I liked:
-Her girls
-Her girlfriends
-Her guards
-Most of the time I liked Lahn (but not all, see below)
-Lahn learning English
-Circe's magic
-I loved reading the bits of the Korwahk language and learning about this culture.

What I didn't like:
-the Xacto (this is a group of female slaves whose purpose it is to basically have sex with the warriors whenever they want. It's ok for married warriors to have sex with the Xacto.
-The raping done during the pillaging. Circe clearly doesn't want her husband to rape women when he goes out on his raids, but he tells her that it is none of her business. When he finally concedes he says that he has never asked her to change who she is and that she can't ever ask him to change who he is. Um...ok, its asking her to change who she is if he thinks he should be able to have sex with who ever he wants and she can't leave him (which is what she would have done in her world).
-When Lahn hit Circe. That was one of the times I stopped reading. He was clearly upset with himself later for doing it, but I could have done without that part.

Overall it was still a good story, but I will be honest and say I am enjoying Fantastical (#3) more and when I would stop reading this book then I would read Fantastical. The only reason I didn't finish Fantastical first was that it got to a point where I felt like I would learn about the ending of the book before I actually read it so I stopped ~80% and went back to finish this book.

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