I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went headlong into this 924-page book. I had never heard of the author before and it never pinged on my radar until I happened to be scrolling through my Goodreads dashboard and saw that someone had marked it as “to-read.”
Then I ended up finishing it in two days.
Power & Majesty, by Tansy Rayner Roberts, is the first book in the “Creatures Court” trilogy. Velody arrives in the city of Aufleur wanting to become an apprentice dressmaker. Once there, she quickly befriends Delphine, a ribboner, and Rhian, a “florister.” Not only that, but she sees the skies lighting up with color and two boys falling out of the sky who have the ability to shapeshift into animals.
“A war is being fought in the skies over the city of Aufleur. No one sees the battles. No one knows how close they come to destruction every time the sun sets.
During daylight, all is well, but when nox falls and the sky turns bright, someone has to step up and lead the Creature Court into battle.
Twelve years ago, Garnet kissed Velody and stole her magic. Five years ago, he betrayed Ashiol, and took his powers by force. But now the Creature Court is at a crossroads … they need a Power and Majesty who won’t give up or lose themselves in madness…”
The main reason why I hadn’t heard of this book before is because it’s only available in paperback in Australia and the UK. For Americans, it’s available as an ebook on Amazon.com.
Sex, blood, and power are recurring themes throughout the book, and it’s no wonder because most of the characters in this book play by their own rules. Sociopathic and hedonistic to their very core, members of the Creature Court are reminiscent of the Greek gods with their power-hungry, vengeful, and back-stabbing natures. But they’re also reeling from the loss of their “King.”
At first, the solution to their problem appears to be Ashiol, but the experience of being held captive and tortured by the most recent King has left him slightly unhinged and psychologically and emotionally broken.
That’s where our main character, Velody, comes in. She’s strong-willed and determined but Roberts is careful not to let her protagonist fall into the trap of the dreaded “Mary Sue.” She’s somebody you want to root for, but maybe not the most interesting character in the book. Fear not, there are plenty of other very interesting, not-so bad and not-so good characters to fill the gap.
Biting, snooty, and very much damaged, Delphine was by far my favorite character. (She’s also gearing up to become a major player, so I’m positive we’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the second and third books.)
The plot was really intriguing. It’s a bit of a slow-burn at the beginning, but that’s because the author is setting up the characters and their relationships with one another.
The driving force behind Velody’s actions and motivations is her friendship with Delphine and Rhian, and after Rhian suffers from something quite terrible and traumatic, the Creature Court’s interference in the three girls’ lives threatens to destroy the delicate fabric holding their friendship together.
The importance of female friendship is something that I really liked about this book. Too often, female characters are only portrayed as having an antagonistic relationship with one another and their rivalry usually stems from jealousy or the “virgin”/”whore” dichotomy. In Power & Majesty, female relationships are portrayed in a very realistic way. While not every female character gets along (nor should they have to), female friendships aren’t demonized, either.
There’s a helpful glossary at the end of the book to help with names and terms for locations, etc. And given that this is a fantasy book, there are a lot of made-up places and vocabulary.
Power & Majesty, for the most part, takes place in the fictional city of Aufleur. The various cities themselves seem to be an amalgamation of different time periods, customs, technologies, and culture, but this is something I had to infer from the passages since it’s never clearly defined. There are elements of medieval Europe, the Regency era, Ancient Rome, and even the early 1900’s (there are references to flappers).
Roberts is very descriptive when it comes to style and fashion, which also helped with trying to pinpoint the type of fantasy world these characters reside in.
It’s important to note that the book is divided up into a couple different points-of-view, although they all fall into chronological order. The multiple points-of-view are done well, but this might turn off readers who prefer just having one or two.
In terms of plot and character development, this book is really well-done. Roberts doesn’t skim on the fantasy aspect, either, because there is plenty of magic and fantastical elements to keep readers engaged.
Books 2 and 3 have already been published, so I’ll definitely be checking those out.
- Author: Tansy Rayner Roberts
- Genre: Fantasy
- Pages: 924
- Get a copy: Power and Majesty (Creature Court)