Monday 8 November 2021

#BookReview - The Steel Rose (The Boar King’s Honor, Book 2) by Nancy Northcott @NancyNorthcott

The Steel Rose 
(The Boar King’s Honor Trilogy, Book 2)
by Nancy Northcott

Publication Date: April 29, 2021
Publisher: Falstaff Books
Page Length: 370 Pages
Genre: Historical Fantasy/Romantic Fantasy  

Amelia Mainwaring, a magically Gifted seer, is desperate to rescue the souls of her dead father and brother, who are trapped in a shadowy, wraith-filled land between life and death as the latest victims of their family curse. Lifting the curse requires clearing the name of King Richard III, who was wrongly accused of his nephews’ murder because of a mistake made by Amelia’s ancestor.

In London to seek help from a wizard scholar, Julian Winfield, Amelia has disturbing visions that warn of Napoleon Bonaparte’s escape from Elba and renewed war in Europe. A magical artifact fuels growing French support for Bonaparte. Can Amelia and Julian recover the artifact and deprive him of its power in time to avert the coming battles? 

Their quest takes them from the crowded ballrooms of the London Season to the bloody field of Waterloo, demanding all of their courage, guile, and magical skill. Can they recover the artifact and stop Bonaparte? Or will all their hopes, along with Amanda’s father and brother, be doomed as a battle-weary Europe is once again engulfed in the flames of war?  

The Steel Rose is the second book in the time-traveling, history-spanning fantasy series The Boar King’s Honor, from Nancy Northcott (Outcast Station, The Herald of Day).

“If Bonaparte returned to France, the vision she’d had earlier could make horrible sense.”

Amelia Mainwaring’s life had been filled with tragedy. She had to watch the man she loved die, and, on top of that, her family were cursed. The curse can only be lifted when some indisputable proof of Richard III's innocence is brought forward to confirm that he had no hand in the mysterious disappearance (perhaps even deaths) of his two nephews, Edward V and Richard—The Princes in the Tower. Until such proof can be obtained, then Amelia’s father and brother are trapped in a shadowy and dangerous world between life and death. 

But there is more at stake than lifting the curse. Amelia is a Gifted seer, and she has seen a terrible vision of Napoleon Bonaparte escaping from his enforced exile in Elba. If Bonaparte does escape, then Europe will be plunged, yet again, into another terrible war. Amelia seeks the wise counsel of another Gifted member who is also an exceptional scholar, Julian Winfield, Earl of Aysgarth. With his help, Amelia hopes to stop her vision from becoming reality.

Can Amelia and Julian stop Bonaparte from carrying out his plans? The race is on, but there is someone determined to stop them. Unfortunately, this same man may well have the evidence that could lift the curse and allow Amelia’s father and brother to escape the shadowy underworld...

Throughout the swirling mists of time, they have been among us—the Gifted. With a hint of the great Arthurian romances, and a heavy dose of historical fact, Nancy Northcott has given her readers a book that is impossible to put down. The Steel Rose (The Boar King’s Honor Trilogy, Book 2), with its enthralling narrative and compelling prose, really brought the 19th Century back to glorious life and the magical twists made it all the more compelling.

The terrible burden to lift the curse is something that Amelia cannot bear on her own. Knowing that her father and brother are trapped is incredibly upsetting. They are dead, but they are certainly not at peace and the responsibility that comes with trying to find the evidence to free them makes her consider a proposal that, if she accepts, may well lift the curse. However, in the process, she would be forever trapped in her own nightmare world and there would be no way to escape it. And, on top of that, Master Shakespeare had done his worst—it will be difficult to undo the damage Shakespeare had inflicted on Richard III’s character, and therefore many people will not be swayed with the argument that the last Plantagenet was more honourable than the Tudor that stole his throne. To lift the curse, the proof must be indisputable.

The courage that Amelia displays makes her not only a character that one could admire, but also one that came across with a wonderful sense of realism. Likewise, her loyalty to the dead and her ability to speak to them gave this novel a supernatural twist and a glowing warmth of understanding that although they are dead, love, in its purest form, cannot die.

Amelia was a character that I was immediately drawn to. Her skills as a seer, although powerful, demonstrated how much a burden being so very gifted was. Her sleep is constantly interrupted and the visions can strike at any time. Living with such disturbing scenes and knowing that it is up to you to break a curse would cause even the strongest to collapse in emotional exhaustion, but Amelia is a very determined woman who wants to do all she can to help. Her relationship with Julian was also very telling of her character. She is a very empathetic person, who can understand another’s fears and hopes. Amelia’s depiction was fabulously drawn, and I really enjoyed reading about her.

Julian is one of the good guys, the kind who has had his heart trampled on, and has been hurt most dreadfully, but is somehow still standing, and still fighting. For him, knowledge is as important as magic is and he is the one that Amelia turns to for help. And yet, Julian is also a prisoner of his time, where honour must be upheld, despite the personal risks involved. Having command of magic does not make him any less vulnerable and there were certainly times where I found myself holding my breath and hoping he would survive. I thought Julian’s depiction was truly wonderful and his courage to dare to give love a second chance made him exceedingly likeable.

The desperation for power is a theme that is explored in depth within the pages of this novel. The idea that absolute power corrupts absolutely is certainly penned with an intuitive understanding of that saying's meaning. Northcott depicts, through her antagonist and his associates, how dangerous desperate and powerful men can be.

I thought this novel was magnificent from beginning to end. It is packed to bursting with unforgettable characters, non-stop action and a tender romance. The historical details in this novel, despite it being a fantasy, are fantastically depicted, and it is very clear the author has taken a long time researching this era so that her book screams authenticity. 

Although book 2 in the series, The Steel Rose (The Boar King’s Honor Trilogy, Book 2) by Nancy Northcott stands very firmly on its own two feet. However, you would be depriving yourself of a real treat if you did not start with The Herald of Day (The Boar King’s Honor Trilogy, Book 1). This novel, like the series so far, does not threaten to mesmerise the reader, it really does.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde
The Coffee Pot Book Club


This novel is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription.

Nancy Northcott’s childhood ambition was to grow up and become Wonder Woman. Around fourth grade, she realized it was too late to acquire Amazon genes, but she still loved comic books, science fiction, fantasy, history, and romance. She combines the emotion and high stakes, and sometimes the magic, she loves in the books she writes.

She has written freelance articles and taught at the college level. Her most popular course was on science fiction, fantasy, and society.  She has also given presentations on the Wars of the Roses and Richard III to university classes studying Shakespeare’s play about Richard III. Reviewers have described her books as melding fantasy, romance, and suspense. Library Journal gave her debut novel, Renegade, a starred review, calling it “genre fiction at its best.”  

In addition to the historical fantasy Boar King’s Honor trilogy, Nancy writes the Light Mage Wars paranormal romances, the Arachnid Files romantic suspense novellas, and the Lethal Webs romantic spy adventures. With Jeanne Adams, she cowrites the Outcast Station science fiction mysteries.  

Married since 1987, Nancy and her husband have one son, a bossy dog, and a house full of books.

Social Media Links:

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx