Review: Voyage

Voyage is the latest book in The Kingdom Chronicles by Camille Peters. It is a retelling of the lesser-known fairy tale, "King Thrushbeard," about a conceited princess who thinks she is too good for any of her suitors. Though that concept makes it difficult for the story a likable protagonist, Seren's dignity was compensated with an unfortunate upbringing. It takes place on a ship while Seren is sailing to her new kingdom for her upcoming wedding to a stranger. I can see that Camille Peter did a lot of research for this story. There are many descriptions for different parts of a large ship and how they operate, which made the world feel organic. Even though she took some liberties with the fairy tale, it was a unique and pleasant adaptation that made for a refreshing take on an old story. Like all the books from this series, the main focus was on the romance between Seren and Ronan. It got a bit repetitive at times, but the story really picked up near the end.

Voyage by Camille Peters

Similar to the heroine in Spelled, Seren starts out quite full of herself, believing that she is better than most peasants because she is a princess who deserves to be treated as such. She accrued the nickname "dragon princess" among her court for her conceited attitude and aggressive mannerisms. As you might expect, that made the book difficult to get into at first. However, over time, we learn the tragic reason for Seren's troubling behavior and realize that the only thing she wants in life is to be loved. She has little faith that her fiance will love her but agrees to the marriage alliance anyway and sets sail for the kingdom of Bytamia. When she boards the ship, the captain introduces himself as Prince Ronan. Due to his humble position, Seren refuses to believe him. This stubborn dismissal of the truth continues for much longer than is truly plausible and becomes a major source of frustration throughout the book.

This was one of the fastest-paced books in The Kingdom Chronicles. Unlike other stories that would drag out the romance without much else happening, Voyage contained plenty of magic and adventure at sea. Instead of using a traditional map, Ronan opts for an enchanted piece of parchment that magically reveals whichever path it thinks is best for its navigator. This is a subtle throwback to Pathways, the first book in the series about a girl who walks through a magic forest that regularly shifts its routes. Seren had her own magical relic as well in the form of a necklace that was given to her by her late mother. Ronan and Seren's backstories intersect at the end of the book when his map leads them to a treasure that is connected to Seren's necklace. There were also storms and other mishaps that occurred at sea to break up the monotony of Ronan's courtship with Seren.

Though Voyage is inspired by "King Thrushbeard," the structure of the story is a little different. Instead of refusing to marry a homely prince and being forced to marry a peasant that turned out to be the same person, Seren agrees to marry Prince Ronan and falls in love with his "captain" persona while she thinks she is engaged to someone else. Major changes in adaptations are not always a good idea, but I liked this one. The original fairy tale was problematic because the princess entered a marriage on false terms and didn't learn who her husband really was until years later. That would be grounds for a divorce in any modern court! Here, Ronan never actually lies to Seren and instead accepts that she wouldn't believe he was the prince until they fell in love later. While this certainly is an improvement on the "Thrushbeard" character, it also makes Seren look quite foolish, especially considering how ridiculously obvious it was that the man courting her was, in fact, her husband-to-be.

Since I have read no other adaptations of "King Thurshbeard," Voyage defaults to my favorite. It was a pretty good book overall with lots of detailed imagery of sailing on a regal ship. Seren was a frustrating protagonist at times, but her tragic backstory made it easy to care about her. Ronan's character was a vast improvement over the one he was based on by having him lie by omission instead of breaking his marriage vows. The only thing that I think would have made the story more enjoyable would be to find some other reason besides foolish pride for Seren not to believe Ronan when he told her he was the prince. It felt like too much of a stretch for her not to figure out on her own for such a long expanse of the book after it was established that she was quite intelligent.

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