September 18, 2016

Nemesis by Anna Banks | Don't judge an author on their past books

Nemesis (Nemesis #1)Nemesis 
By Anna Banks
Nemesis #1
368 pages
Published on October 4, 2016
Young Adult, Fantasy

This book was provided to me from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.
Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee from his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king's servitude.

Tarik, also known as the Falcon King, has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.

Sepora's gift could save Tarik's kingdom from the Quiet Plague. But should she trust her growing feelings for her nemesis, or should she hide her gifts at all costs?

This is not what I was expecting from Anna Banks, but I certainly loved it! I know of, but never read, her Of Poseidon trilogy and contemporaries like Joyride. I started reading Of Poseidon a while ago, but the light-hearted plot and overemphasis on romance scared me away. So, my opinion was extremely biased when I started reading Nemesis since I was not sure how her previous experience with mermaids and fluffy romances was going to translate in a cutthroat fantasy. 

Now, I am ashamed of my presumptions because Banks made me love almost everything about the book. I loved the fantasy elements,  characters, (most) of the romance, and the luxurious settings. I never would have guessed that her previous books were about mermaids and romance, since this world that she created was brutal and merciless. 

First of all, Sepora's power is unique and extremely interesting. While having liquid silver seep out of your body may not seem like magic, she is actually one of the most powerful people in her world due to the ability. Her power of creating the most valuable substance in her kingdom on command comes with many responsibilities and dangers. The particulars of her power were described in depth and satisfied my endless curiosity. Not to mention, Sepora was relentlessly stubborn and always had a sassy comeback, even for the Falcon King.

I also liked Tarik and his ability as a Lingot to tell the truth from a lie. It was an interesting aspect to mix into the story. I have read a lot of books with lie detector characters (Truthwitch by Susan Dennard is just one), but Banks flawlessly mixed the power of truth and deception through Tarik's character. The calm, caring part of his nature clashed with his duties a king and ruler. I loved seeing his transition from an easy-going prince to the feared Falcon King.

While I loved Sepora and Tarik separately as characters, I think their relationship was too wishy-washy and easy. One moment they were at each other's throats and then they were pining for each other on the next page. This back and forth was present throughout the whole novel. It seemed too easy for Sepora to raise through the ranks from a disobedient harlot from harem to a royal adviser and the apple of the king's eye. 

Nemesis is set in an alternate world where kingdoms with different cultures clash in an ultimate way. Sepora's and Tarik's kingdoms came to life with Banks' descriptive writing. Even though most of the novel took place in Theoria, I felt as if I was an expert on the entire realm.

This was mostly due to the rich cultures portrayed in both kingdoms. They are polar opposites, with one in barbaric, chilly mountains and the other in a desert full of heat, sand, and the pursuit of knowledge. The contrast between their cultures, ideals, and rulers escalated the political intrigue and conflict in the novel.

Banks was teeming with imagination when she created her world where boys became kings, princesses lived in harems, monsters lurked in the rivers, and magic could be used as a life-saving cure or an unstoppable weapon. I am so glad I gave her writing another chance. 

I would recommend Nemesis to those who are looking for a stubborn heroine with unique powers struggling to save her people in a world where the line between the truth and lies is unpredictable. I would also recommend it to readers who want jump into a rich fantasy world and do not mind a little bit of indecisive romance.

Do you ever judge an author by their previous books? Are you hesitant to support and author after they completely switch genres? Have you read any other books by Anna Banks? Are you planning to read Nemesis? What is your favorite book with a lie detector character?

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