The Story So Far: The Emberverse started with an SF bang – changing the laws of the universe! Two trilogies later, the next generation [tm] was straight up high fantasy, complete with a prince on a quest for a sword. OK, next generation recycled the quest for a new sword and opened up the Emberverse to distant continents.
The story Here: Golden Princess Orry has been naughty, running off to help a foreign Empress quest for the Grass-Cutting Sword without getting permission from her own Sovereign: Queen Mom. This book, Orry gets her wrist slapped and off she goes to rusticate. Meanwhile, Prince John’s boat gets swept out to sea in a storm, is followed by The Bad Guys on 2 boats. The Bad Guys are offed (after many, many, many pages) by Not Exactly A Sea Dragon in what seems to be a deux ex machina, but is actually a plot point. (um. OK.) The ship makes it to an island, we meet a new group of people, and help them fight their enemies.
Recycled plots are OK, because kids gotta follow in their parents’ footsteps.
Boring characters are not OK, because yawning through a book is ridiculous.
The back cover says Prince John has always been the spare, and wants to be a bard. Now he has got to live up to his leadership potential. Can we have some leadership before page 300? and for more than a chapter? Incidentally, cheating on your girlfriend is not leadership, even if neither of you intended to keep the relationship going forever, and even if old girlfriend and new girlfriend eventually decide to be friends – despite the idiot boyfriend.
Excessive focus on non-local food that the royal family eats is excessive – we know that they can afford to import the best, we don’t need multiple multi-course meals, complete with sauce and gravy.
At least the excessive focus on how hot it is to fight in full armor, and how someone fast and light might choose to wear minimal armor, is plot relevant.
This book would have been a lot more interesting at 150 pages shorter.