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    Review of THE GOLDEN ROSE by Kathleen Bryan


    Tor Books, March 2008

    Averil despises her King, but she's made an agreement and is bound to honor it. Leaving behind Gereint, her true love but a man she cannot, legally, marry, she visits the capital and court, meeting with the countless men who wish to marry her, wish to secure the nation's leading heiress and the next in line to the throne. Averil can't deny the attraction she feels for one man--a prince of a distant country. He also shares with her another version of the faith in the vanquished Serpent-god. Not everything preached by the church is true, and for him, the Serpent is a neutral rather than an evil force.

    Ultimately, however, Averil decides that the serpent's appetite for human souls cannot be tolerated, whether fed by the king or his opponents. She flees to Prydain and to Gereint. But the King's armies follow--intent on capturing the artifacts that will allow him to set the once-vanquished but definitely not dead Serpent free.

    Author Kathleen Bryan (see more reviews of novels by Bryan) delivers an intriguing world, filled with the creatures of Fae. Wisely, she allows for shades of gray--with neither the serpent nor the church free of lies and hypocrisy. Indeed, while the church is responsible for opposing the Serpent, the church's lies and its blindness to the full range of magic are at the heart of most of the problems Averil's world faces. I would have liked to see more of Gereint, who is a complex and changing character. In contrast, Averil comes off as spoiled and, frankly, annoying. If not for the magic that binds them together, I'd certainly suggest calling Gereint aside and suggesting that he finds someone a bit more interesting.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 9/05/08

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