Tile: Rule (Rule #1)
Author: Ellen Goodlett
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 11, 2018
The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.
Or rather, three unexpected options.
Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she's already gone.
Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.
Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady's maid and scheming her way out of the servants' chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she's done.
When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny... to rule (goodreads).
Rule had a Pretty Little Liars twist with an ending that raised more questions than answers.
Plot: Rule opened with three girls who seemingly had very little in common. When they received summons to appear before the king, they learned that they were illegitimate children of the king who all had claim to the dying king's throne. Throw in some politics, dark magic, and anonymous threats and we have a YA fantasy.
I liked Rule for its mystery aspect - each of the girls had a secret that would endanger their lives and someone in court was bent on revealing it if the girls didn't leave. Surprisingly, the mystery wasn't the focal point I expected it to be, rather the author focused on three girls from different backgrounds and their attempts to understand court life. The ending was a bit of a letdown because even though it ended on a cliffhanger, there wasn't any development on the mystery, just more questions which frustrated me.
Characters: Rule was told from the perspectives of Zofi, Ren, and Akelyah, each girl hailed from a different region of the conquered land and responded to the Kolonyian rule differently. While I enjoyed these different perspectives, I found Ren and Akelyah's voice to bleed into one. Zofi, on the other hand, had a strong and unique voice which is mostly why I kept reading.
Worldbuilding: The world of Rule was complex and probably a bit too much to try to shove in the first 50 pages or so. The complicated relationship between Kolonya and its invaded lands was interesting and something I wanted to learn more about, but I couldn't keep track of the relationships. It did feel like Goodlett wanted to get all of the worldbuilding out of the way in the beginning so that she could focus on the character relationships and drama, which was a shame.
Short N Sweet: Rule was a run-of-the-mill fantasy that could have used more worldbuilding and more answers.
Labels: 3 stars, book review, ellen goodlett, little brown books for young readers, review, rule