"O hard, when love and duty clash!" - Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Princess
what and who would you choose if the fate of your kingdom is in your hands? would you forego the chance to be with the only person you fell for and with whom you would want to spend the rest of your life? or would you rather embrace duty and responsibility above all?
in Hammerfort, kingdom of Oscia, Prince Severin purchases the slave Havyn and sets him free later when they get home to Arcathia. Ildar, the royal wizard, discovers Havyn's aptitude for magic and takes him on as an apprentice.
as the seasons change, the attraction between Severin and Havyn grows but their individual responsibilities prevent each from acting fully on their desires. war between the kingdoms of Oscia and Arcathia is a constant threat and Severin must marry an Oscian princess as a political move and to ensure the birth of an heir as well. Havyn, on the other hand, must control his raging hormones if he wants to keep his powers strong.
Annette Gisby's novel is set in a world where magic is commonplace and intimacy between people of the same gender are not frowned upon. she takes the reader on a journey filled with adventure, magic, treachery and romance.
the worldbuilding is done well and i loved how she brought me inside the story and allowed me to participate vicariously in what her characters were going through. i could see Arcathia and revel in its beauty, charm and neat surroundings. i could also feel some disgust over Oscia and its filth and at its rigid decrees and treatment of its citizens and slaves.
the characters are also well-developed. Severin's pining for his father's approval makes him insecure and violent at times but deep down he is a good person. Havyn, despite being enslaved his whole life has integrity and common sense and he too is looking for affection and love. as the story progressed, each matures and finds fulfillment in his hopes and dreams.
the other secondary characters are likeable as well especially the wizard Ildar, Severin's mother Queen Yinare and his bodyguards Kelandra and Chayal. the handful of "unsavory ones" are also well addressed and i could not help but feel triumphant when one was whisked away and finally brought to justice.
as to the romantic aspect, it was just right. other readers might find it too much of a slow burn. for me, though, it was justified. there was no rush and it had to be that way given the conflicts and decisions Severin and Havyn faced each single moment - whether they were away or near each other. albeit furtive and stolen, those moments both had only increased the ardor and excitement of their relationship.
overall, i loved and enjoyed the book. it was a page-turner or screen-swiper if you will. for a fantasy novel, it was surprisingly light and very readable. more importantly, it made me feel good once i was done. despite a few and very minor "technicalities" i saw (e.g. the mention of shampoo), i still got what i wanted from the author and her story - to be entertained.
*The Chosen is available in print and digital formats at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble and Lulu. for more information about Annette Gisby and her work, please visit her personal website at annettegisby.weebly.com and follow her on Twitter
my personal rating is:
The Chosen contains material not suitable for younger readers 17 and under.
Disclosure of Material Connection: i received a copy for review from author Annette Gisby through Reading Alley. i did not receive any payment in exchange for this review nor was i obligated to write a positive one. all opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. this disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.