Thursday Reviews – The First Crown by Meg Cowley

Why I picked up this book:

I received a series of free books via email, and The First Crown was buried in the pile. The cover was the first thing that called out to me, and honestly, how could I resist any story about dragons? It was a quick read and definitely a gem for readers who are curious about the Caledan worlds.

This review may contain spoilers.

The First Crown (Books of Caledan #0.5)

It’s easy to kill a man. It’s hard to kill a dragon. Is it impossible to kill a god?

Bahr, the god of Fire and War, is terrorising the land, annihilating men, Eldarkind and dragons alike. Nothing can stand before him and Beren, chief amongst men, faces everything he loves being lost to Bahr’s fickle fires.

After witnessing Bahr’s devastating power, Beren despairs, until the mysterious king of the Eldarkind offers him one glimmer of hope – but it comes at great cost. To have any chance of success, Beren must have faith in the enigmatic Eldarkind, set aside his lifelong differences with the dragons, and place his trust in the enemy who has destroyed his home and family. Unless he does so, they are all doomed.

As Bahr’s vengeful eye turns to their hostile alliance, their differences threaten to divide man, Eldarkind, and dragon. Can Beren forge the strongest allies from his bitterest enemies before Bahr destroys them all?


What I loved:

This novella length story is very well written. It had the feel of Tolkien’s worlds, and immediately put the reader in the middle of a dire conflict that needed to be resolved. I love that it showed three armies coming together in a struggle for peace without delving too deeply into a how-to on execution of flank maneuvers.

Brithilica is wonderful, and his role from start to finish was the most heart-felt. I now have a reason to cheer and keep reading into the series to find out how his story continues.

Areas needing a touch of refinement:

I wanted to feel a bit more in touch with each of the characters. They were all really fascinating, but the story didn’t have a strong emotional depth until the incident at the end. I would have liked to feel more. To connect more with each of the three main individuals and their struggles.


Although this story read more like a quick history for the Caledan series, I really enjoyed it. And I’ll be honest… if it wasn’t for one tiny, heart-wrenching thing that happened toward the end, I may have chalked it up to a good read and moved on. However, the author hooked me and I’ll be picking up the first book in her series, The Tainted Crown, and adding it to my reads pile.

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Thursday Reviews – The Rebel by C. J. Archer

Why I picked up this book:

I adore C. J. Archer’s Glass and Steel series, and I’m eagerly awaiting her 5th installment, but I wanted to try one of her more adult novels.

After reading The Charmer, I absolutely fell in love with Cole’s character. So naturally, once I knew there was a book about him, I picked it up right away.

This review may contain spoilers.


The Rebel (Assassin’s Guild #2)

The Charmer Cole’s heart is dark.

He’s a mystery, even to those closest to him in the Assassins Guild. All anyone really knows for sure is that he’s ruthless, grim, and cares little for his own life. So when he loses his memory during an attack and thinks himself a naive eighteen year-old youth again, no one can really believe the transformation. But as his memory returns, so do the nightmares and the dark reality of who he has become.

Lucy’s world is bright.

When gentle-natured Lucy falls in love with the damaged stranger, she thinks him a smiling, amiable gentleman. But rumors of a murder in the nearby village have her suspecting that her patient may be hiding a terrible secret.

Can opposites really attract?

What will happen when Cole regains his memory and his past catches up to him?


What I loved:

I loved Cole’s darkness, when he was dark. He has this brilliant stubborn, gruff, no-nonsense type persona, and I absolutely adored it.

I also really like the tie-in to the Cowdrey family from the first novel in the series, and that this book explored a little more of the Sutton Grange area. And you get to see a few of the characters from The Charmer, which is great. I look forward to seeing more of everyone in the next two books.

Areas needing a touch of refinement:

This is purely subjective, but I didn’t like that much of this book focused on Cole as an 18-year-old. It’s great backstory, but he was just too childish and naive for my tastes. Dark-hearted, rebel Cole is a much more interesting character. Chances are someone else feels different.

I didn’t connect at all with Lucy’s character. She was interesting at first, but after three days descended into clingy, needy, girlfriend mode. It dissolved all the romantic tension and I was secretly hoping she’d accidentally get shot. *Sorry* Again, this is purely subjective on my part. Her character seemed badly mismatched with the real Cole.

The last 25% of the book was rushed. I would have liked to see a lot more tension, grounding, and sensory detail to smooth out the pacing.


Overall this was an enjoyable read, but I think I wanted more from this book. I was disappointed with the ending, especially how things closed out with Cole’s father and brother. It was all a little too neat. Though, if Archer ever wrote an exploration of Cole’s descent into darkness after leaving home, I’d probably be all over it. I have a love of dark and self-destructive characters.

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