ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
The blurb surmised this first-person character-driven debut nicely; spies, smugglers, vengeance, war, and love, this hefty book has them all.
Fortune’s Fool is Angela Boord’s debut and it’s the first book in Eterean Empire series. The story revolves around Kyrra d’Aliente as she seeks vengeance for the harshness inflicted towards her in her past while masquerading herself as a man. Fortune’s Fool is undeniably a character-driven fantasy. The author did a fantastic job of telling Kyrra’s story, the plot juggles between two timelines: the present and the past. One of the things that made the narrative relatively refreshing to read was the changes in tenses between the two timeframes; the past is told in first-person past tense narration, the present is told in the first-person present tense narrative. Truthfully speaking, I’m not a big fan of tenses shift within the same book, but the author did a great job in making sure the flow of her story remains undisrupted throughout.
Kyrra and Arsenault were by far the central characters of the story. Their encounter, their relationship, and their developments were, in my opinion, the most dominant selling point of the book. This was especially true in the first half of the book where the author spent a lot of time building their characters from scratch. The origin story of how Kyrra loses her arm and then met Arsenault was superbly written. Both characters were flawed, and I loved reading how both Kyrra and Arsenault affected and developed each other’s development.
“There was a moment of starting too long, a jolt, a shiver. How does one describe these feelings afterward without making them seem boring and cliché? There is that moment when one is young in which all the clichés seem true.”
Other than those two, I also liked Mikelo and I wish I get to see more of him. This is one of the two points of the book that fell a bit short for me. Although Kyrra and Arsenault were well-developed, I truly feel like this big book has too much focus on them. I understand that they’re indeed THE main characters, but the overwhelming focus on them made that the other side characters became pretty much forgettable. Excluding Mikelo, I don’t think I’ll be able to remember any of the side characters again by the time the second book comes out. The second point would be that I found some of the method of revelations to be repetitive after a while. Arsenault has a LOT of secrets, the way this was revealed throughout the book almost always involved Kyrra getting pissed and angry at him. Kyrra is angry, Arsenault revealed a bit of his secret, Kyrra gets angry again, Arsenault revealed a bit of secret again; although the reasons for secrecy were understandable and believable, it gets tiring to read when the similar method of revelations was constantly repeated throughout this 737 pages book.
The world-building, however, was fantastic. The feudal between houses, the weaponry (guns included), the cultures, the magic, and the lore were seamlessly incorporated into the story. I also love how the atmosphere of the world; I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the world-building is Renaissance-inspired. A huge part of why I enjoyed this book, despite the two minor issues I mentioned, was how cleanly written the book was. Boord has well-refined prose that’s beneficial in making her narrative and action scenes flows nicely. It doesn’t matter whether it was present-tense or past-tense; both were written wonderfully.
Fortune’s Fool is an atmospheric character-driven fantasy with a female main character that’s easy to root for. There’s still a lot of untapped potential to this series, especially regarding the gods, but the story, for now, feels self-contained; no need to worry about facing a cliffhanger here. Fortune’s Fool is being entered into SPFBO #5; I wish Angela Boord the best of luck and I look forward to seeing how this will fare in the competition!
Official release date: June 25th, 2019
You can pre-order the book from: Amazon