Sunday, November 4, 2018

Heartstone (Elle Katharine White)

The Heartstone series, Book 1
Elle Katharine White
Harper Voyager
Fiction, Fantasy
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: When Aliza Bentaine met Alastair Daired, it was hate at first sight. Never mind that Aliza's younger sister had been killed by a horde of gryphons that had roosted near Merybourne Manor, and Alastair - scion of an ancient line of dragon companions - was one of the Riders sent to deal with the infestation. The man's arrogance and casual dismissal of any born lower than himself (most everybody in the realm of Arle, in other words) would try a saint's patience, and it's soon clear that he finds her headstrong ways even more irritating than most of the human race. But fate seems to keep throwing them into each others' paths, as the gryphons prove to be just one part of a much greater danger that will threaten the whole of Arle... one that will take more than dragonfire and Rider steel to defeat.

REVIEW: As one might surmise from the description, Heartstone is a fantasy riff on the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice, transplanting the general story structure into an invented realm that vaguely resembles England. Some of the elements don't transfer as well as others; in White's world, women have more options for improving their lot than simply marrying well, so Aliza's mother's obsession with getting a good Rider match for at least one of her eligible daughters seems a little out of place. It also made parts of the tale predictable, such as the general arc of Aliza and Alastair's relationship and those of a few surrounding players. The fantasy trappings, though, made for interesting variety, not to mention more intense action sequences than Austen presented. (Then again, I think most classics would be improved with the addition of dragons, or at least gryphons, which is probably all you need to know about my literary taste - or lack thereof. But, I digress...) I also cared enough for the characters to keep reading; indeed, though the tale was fairly lightweight in many respects, it somehow drug me into a daylong binge. It was this ability to keep me turning pages that made me overlook a few forgotten loose ends and some over-complicated worldbuilding to give it a four-star Good rating. I might even read the second one, if I find it cheap enough (or, better yet, through the library.)

You Might Also Enjoy:
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) - My Review
A Natural History of Dragons (Marie Brennan) - My Review
His Majesty's Dragon (Naomi Novik) - My Review

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