Let’s get into it!
This book picks up some years after A Crack in the Rock. Our characters are older, life has moved on, and it’s a whole new phase for them!
This is a lovely second instalment in The Edge of the Sword Series. The novel follows Prince Darius, brother to Cyrus, both of whom we met in book one. I admit that, at first, all I wanted was just a little more of my sweet Sashia and Cyrus, so it was super satisfying to get a look in on the pair before taking off on this new adventure.
We begin with trouble with neighbouring Artylia that Darius and Cyrus are forced to face. It’s a strong opening to the book that sets the scene for the overall story, and some pretty crucial moments towards the end of the tale.
Darius starts off as, well, a bit of an oaf. Not the ‘dumb’ kind of oaf, but the ‘brash and quick to anger’ type of oaf, and makes a couple of bad (ahem terrible) decisions. BUT, of course, that’s only the beginning of the story…
Our other main character is Lady Eemya, another excellent leading lady. Eemya is intelligent, compassionate, wise, and beloved by her subjects – it’s easy to see why. Some of the happiest moments of the story for me were seeing how Eemya cared for, interacted with, and encouraged the innovations of, her people.
When Darius and Eemya meet, sparks fly! But, not necessarily good ones (at first at least)!
There’s a lot to like about this fantasy romance. First, besides Darius and Eemya, we have the sweetest sweetheart ever, Stelan. The relationship he comes to have with both leads is fabulous, and he plays some vital roles throughout the story. We also have Effan, whom readers of book one will remember. It’s special to see his close relationship with Darius continue, and I feel sad for what he went through in book one even more!
The characters themselves deepen as the story progresses and we can see inside their heads a little more, and understand their backgrounds, motivations, and priorities.
The setting is delightful – a beautiful island completely different to Berush! The other supporting characters work so well and, once again, the characters and the setting work wonderfully to create a lovely atmosphere for the novel.
Being more predominantly a romance (or perhaps a slightly more traditional one, I’d say) the plot of this book felt less dire throughout than A Crack in the Rock. That’s not a bad thing at all, just a reflection on the feel and tone of the novel. Don’t get me wrong though, there’s a lot of tension and some real drama does go down. And the ENDING ahh, so, so good!
As for antagonists, we have a few in different ways! First, there’s the tensions in the kingdom of Artylia which lurk at the edges for much of the story, breaking through in big ways a couple of times, there’s also the environment (which creates its own challenges), and some other leaders on the island who might not see eye-to-eye with Eemya or Darius. Then, of course, there’s the tension between the characters themselves. There’s enough here to keep you wondering, without a ‘big baddie’ deliberately trying to thwart Darius and Eemya’s story throughout the entire book – which is nice to not have in a more deliberate romance like this one!
This story, while less intense (in some ways) than A Crack in the Rock, has some big themes and deals with important issues. Darius struggles with PTSD, and it clearly affects him – and others around him – in the story. I really appreciate how Gabriel deliberately weaves these real-world themes into her stories. It gives them a heft and richness I so appreciate. Other key themes that stood out to me are the impact of first impressions (and how drastically they can change), self reflection and growth, and forgiveness.
I know A Crack in the Rock (while first chronologically) came out later than this novel. But while this story was published earlier, the writing quality is still excellent!
Overall, another highly recommended! It was such a fun, smooth read! I think A Crack in the Rock is still my favourite of the two, but The Warrior Prince of Berush is an excellent and engaging read that had me reaching straight for book three!
Now I’ve finished the main section of the review, I just have to indulge myself to take a moment and comment on something.
What is head hopping, you ask?
Head hopping is when an author ‘hops’ from the perspective of one character to another in the same scene.
Frank Herbert did it. Jane Austen did it. JRR Tolkien did it. But it’s almost universally frowned upon today.
As this article from the Writing Cooperative points out, this is a modern convention, current taste, rather than a hard and fast rule.
And to be honest, I don’t get the hate.
Sure, it can be done badly – but so can every aspect of writing. Here, in The Warrior Prince of Berush I feel like it’s appropriate and done well at important moments where the audience wants or needs to know multiple perspectives of an event or situation.
Why am I bringing this up?
Well, because, the ‘it’s terrible’ prevailing opinions of head hopping really, really bother me. And I wanted to take the opportunity to point out that just because head hopping exists, doesn’t mean it’s inherently bad (see authors above, this book, and more). I might do a more in-depth article on this one day, but for now I’ll get off my soapbox. Head hopping can be done well!
So, what do you think? Have you read A Crack in the Rock or The Warrior Prince of Berush?