Review: The Golden Dynasty by Kristen Ashley ★★★★★

The Golden Dynasty (Fantasyland, #2)The Golden Dynasty by Kristen Ashley
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Series: Fantasyland #2
Publication Date: August 22nd 2011
ISBN: 2940011473630
Page Count: 485
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Copy: Own purchase
Reviewed by: Lynsey
Buy Link: AMAZON
Synopsis: Circe Quinn goes to sleep at home and wakes up in a corral filled with women wearing sacrificial virgin attire - and she is one of them. She soon finds out that she’s not having a wild dream, she’s living a frightening nightmare where she’s been transported to a barren land populated by a primitive people and in short order, she’s installed very unwillingly on her white throne of horns as their Queen.

Dax Lahn is the king of Suh Tunak, The Horde of the nation of Korwahk and with one look at Circe, he knows she will be his bride and together they will start The Golden Dynasty of legend.

Circe and Lahn are separated by language, culture and the small fact she’s from a parallel universe and has no idea how she got there or how to get home. But facing challenge after challenge, Circe finds her footing as Queen of the brutal Korwahk Horde and wife to its King, then she makes friends then she finds herself falling in love with this primitive land, its people and especially their savage leader.


*Picks up gauntlet*

I went into this expecting it to be a challenge. I'd read all the reviews with their warnings of abuse, rape, and degradation. My friends said, "Yyyyeah, good luck with that" when I described the premise to them. But I just had to know: How has this author managed to win over so many readers, and garner such an abundance of five star reviews, despite this seemingly abhorrent content?

And now I know.

Well sorta. I mean, I can't actually explain to you how she did it. Some kind of genius author hoodoo, no doubt. But somehow, some way, in between the shocking opening chapters and the ending of this book, she managed to make me believe in this culture - not agree with it. Oh no, never that - but to at least conceive it, to try and wrap my head around a people brought up the way the Korwahks are. That in order to be the warriors they're known to be, they must give up all softness, kindness, and nurture from the age of five and live and breathe warfare instead, and in return, a beautiful bride will be awarded to them. But as warriors, they can't just accept them as gifts, they have to be earned, fought for and claimed. By force.

Incidentally, it's worth noting that the Korwahk women are happy to be in the Wife Hunt. They, being part of the same culture, see it as an honour to be chosen. They're all, "Pick me! Pick me!".

*sigh* It still sounds awful doesn't it.... Trust me, when you read it in context, it's not quite as bad as it sounds when summarised. That said, there were instances outside of The Wife Hunt where I felt the author was challenging me unnecessarily and slightly pushing her luck. Because it wasn't just during that once-yearly event that the warriors thought it was okay to force themselves on women, but also when they went out marauding. Literally raping and pillaging. And they did this even after they had wives! Of course, it was down to our heroine to try and change their ways in this respect. And if anyone could do it, it was Circe.

Circe's character was about 90% awesome. Most of the book she earned my respect. My only real complaint about her, and the part that made me look squinty-eyed at my Kindle, was the speed of her capitulation to Lahn's sexual demands. I think she needed to hold out a little longer. Still, considering how much her world had been turned upside down, she coped pretty well and I guess a person might seek comfort in the strangest of places under such circumstances.

Now Lahn... How can I like Lahn? Seriously, he's a rapist! Is it possible to love someone without forgiving them? I guess it must be, and the fact that I'm even questioning that possibility means the author has done her job in provoking my thoughts on the subject. As conflicted as I still am over the whole matter, what I can't deny is how engrossed I was in the read and in Lahn's character and his people. I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down. Just couldn't. Even as I was reading some of it peeking through my fingers, or screaming "You bastard! How could you?" I was still fascinated. Moreover, I wanted Circe and Lahn to stay together despite everything.

I have to say one of my favourite things about this book, aside from the awesome world-building and the hot, hot bedroom scenes, was the beautiful Korwahk language the author created. Another thing was the relationships Circe developed with the females of the Daxshee and even some of the other warriors. She earned their respect, which is another layer of interest because clearly The Wife Hunt doesn't make the warriors think any less of the women. In fact, most of them cherish them beyond all else.

All in all, The Golden Dynasty is a challenging read, for sure, but one I recommend readers who are even remotely curious to give a try. See if Kristen Ashley can turn your thoughts on their head, the same way she has done with mine.

5 Stars ★★★★★


  1. Awesome review Lynsey! I completly agree that this was challenging and undownputtable read!



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