Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy (Forgotten Empires #1)

The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy // VBC Review

The Orchid Throne (Forgotten Empires #1)
Jeffe Kennedy
Published: Sept. 24, 2019 (St. Martin’s)
Purchase at: Amazon
Review Source: Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

Decades ago a tyrant rose to power and decimated the many kingdoms either outright killing the royals and their families or enslaving them, and anointing himself His Imperial Majesty Anure, Emperor of All the Lands. The tyrant, Anure, also convinced the people that magic was fake, and the Gods they worshipped—Ejarate and Sawehl—were false.

There was one kingdom, however, that escaped annihilation. The secluded island of Calanthe, a place known for its beauty and pleasures. When Anure landed upon Calanthe, the king did not greet him with violence but with peace….and the promise of his daughter’s eventual hand in marriage.

Now, the former King of Calanthe is dead and his daughter Queen Euthalia sits on the throne always playing a dangerous game of politics in order to keep herself from actually having to honor the betrothal. The preservation of Calanthe is her only priority.

Miles away an escaped slave and former prince Conrí is rallying the dissenters and taking back the kingdoms from Anure’s control one at a time. The goal is to obliterate Anure himself, but he still holds too much power. When it’s suggested that Conrí wed Lia in an attempt to build up their forces, their clashing ideals may doom them before they can get started.

The Orchid Throne is the beginning to what I feel is going to be an excellent fantasy series. It starts out on a pretty good foot, but be warned, it is an extremely slow build. The inevitable meeting between Conrí and Lia doesn’t even happen until somewhere around the halfway mark. Instead, Jeffe Kennedy, spent a good amount of time on world-building. Especially giving readers the intricacies of the Calanthean court. Conrí’s bid for revenge is a more straightforward matter.

I liked seeing the contrast between Conrí’s and Lia’s experiences these last decades, but also the similarities. They’re like two sides of the same coin. Conrí is more abrupt and showy in his subterfuge while Lia is subtle and discreet. Both have felt the constraints placed upon them by Anure—although Conrí certainly suffered the more severe.

Lia was an interesting character to say the least. Honestly, she wasn’t a character that I immediately took to as she comes off as a bit heartless and cold. Her shortsightedness in regards to the suffering of the other kingdoms was irritating at times, but the staunch protectiveness she has for Calanthe and its people is admirable. Jeffe Kennedy was really calculating with Lia because, like the queen she is, not all is revealed about her character at the onset. If all was laid bare from the beginning maybe I could have found some sympathy or empathy for her, but as it stands there’s a pretty major component to her character which is only revealed towards the end. It really brings forth the idea of how much someone in power has to play things close to the chest.

In this regard Conrí and Lia’s slow-burn romance is more enemies-to-lovers with a dash of marriage of convenience thrown in there. Once these two were on page together their interactions were electric. I’m super interested to witness their relationship blossom.

The Orchid Throne sets the stage for the series. There are some interesting and promising developments, and the threat of Anure looming in the background has me highly anticipating that inevitable confrontation.  

Sexual content: graphic sex

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