06 July 2019

Review: For King and Country by Karen Gray



Mòrag’s world is one of proud magical creatures and fierce armies bristling with steel and sorcery. 


Welcome to twenty-seventh century post-apocalyptic Scotland. A land changed by nuclear war, where the only technology in the land is medically orientated — as decreed by the new leaders in the emergence, during the immediate aftermath of near-global destruction of the human race — all in order to kill just one ruler. Now, more than six-hundred years later, immortal beasts once again roam wild in the countryside; mighty princes battle for power and the common folk do their best to avoid being trampled in their wake.

Born of a forbidden coupling between the Albannach and Sasannach royal houses; Mòrag is destined to rule. But her birth right has been kept secret - even from her, and discovery of her royal blood could cost her life. 

Mòrag is no ordinary girl. Her royal blood's hidden talents begin to reveal themselves during her military training at Sruighlea Castle, and she is suddenly in a lot more trouble than she ever dreamed of. 

Mòrag is about to enter a brutal world of conflict and turmoil which will challenge everything she knows and believes in.

Goodreads/Amazon




Did you read that blurb? Go and read it again. I'll wait. 

Ok, 27th CENTURY POST-APOCALYPTIC SCOTLAND. Yes, that is correct. I stress that because For King and Country reads like it's medieval times. It's not and it's easily forgotten while you are reading. While I wasn't really startled, I did go "huh?" a time or two. 
So now you know and knowing's half the battle. Now on to the review!

I was blessed to be gifted the audiobook of For King or Country by Karen Gray and it's AMAZING! (This may be one of those reviews that frequently use caps. Sorry, not sorry.)
Kat Harrison is the narrator and she sounds like Kelly MacDonald or Merida from Brave if you don't know your Disney voice actors. I found very quickly that I couldn't listen at bedtime because her voice put me right out. I don't typically like audiobooks because I read so much faster than they talk, but it was totally worth it! She really does a marvelous job and truly makes Morag! I loved all the colloquialisms. I've decided that I need to start using "Tattie Bye!", though I don't know how well it would translate to my Southern-eze.

This is a book that grabs ahold of you from the very beginning and doesn't let go. There's so much that I was in love with while reading it.

For one thing, the impressive creatures are unusual and astonishing. From the first pages, we get a unicorn. A UNICORN for goodness' sakes! (Squeee!) Unicorns, nemeocorns (unicorn/lion hybrid for simplicity's sake), and just all kinds of fantasy creatures! Not only are they real, but they also bond with their humans and form a mind meld. Another unique magical touch to this new world. Not only can the creatures and humans mind speak but human to human sharing is possible. Being telepathic isn't a new idea by any means, but I loved the way Karen Gray brought it to life in her book. 

As for Mòrag, I adored her. She's brave, kind-hearted, and strong — everything this girl loves in a protagonist. The friendship that develops between her and Brax was charming. Brax has seen more than he should. He's been abused, beaten down and mistreated. The way the Mòrag steps up and becomes his champion when he, himself has stopped trying was everything! I wasn't shipping a Mòrag/Brax love connection at all. Their friendship was enough to warm this heart of mine but when it looked like it might be heading there, well, I wasn't mad!

Fantastic world building, wonderfully real characters, and an adventurous plot put For King and Country easily in my top reads pile this year! I can't wait to read the other books. It's killing me to not immediately jump into Chains of Blood and Steel as For King and Country leaves us on a cliffhanger, setting the stage perfectly for the second book. 




DIVIDER

About the Author

Karen Gray grew up in a town called Livingston, in central Scotland.

She was horse mad from an early age and moved to Aberdeen at 17 to do a degree in Equine Science. After moving back home to Livingston 4 years later she worked as a care assistant for the elderly and infirm until she got a job in the equestrian industry. Since then she followed her line of work across Scotland.

Karen left her job as a riding instructor to have her children. She began writing shortly after the birth of her second child and has not stopped since. Writing is her first passion before all others and though she is working on other artistic projects, her writing comes first.

She is currently studying a degree in Product Design at Edinburgh College of Art after gaining an HND in Graphic Design at college and as such the publishing of her books has slowed down somewhat but she is still constantly writing and has several books in the pipeline for her main series, The Saga of Thistles and Roses."