E.M Havens has produced a wonderful book in the Fate War Alliance. It is the story of a couple in an arranged marriage as they get to know each other and eventually come to love each other. It is also the story of a woman blossoming through her husband’s patient ministrations and growing understanding of what has caused her reticence to be herself.
This well-characterised example of steampunk books is set in a world of kings and nobles. Prince Cole despises their stiff etiquette, and his task is to free his new wife – who he had never met before their wedding day – from the restraints of that stifling etiquette. Samantha eventually reveals herself as an accomplished tinker and plays a major role in winning a battle.
The author takes great care in the development of the characters and their relationship, and I think I fell in love with Cole myself. By the time the threat of war looms, I was totally committed to the characters. This aspect of the novel was very skilfully done.
The plot focused on character development for roughly the first half of the book, then more action kicked in in the second half. The machines gave an intriguing flavour to the story and added a surprise element to the battle. Added to this was the underlying mystery of Jasper. The end was satisfying without being sickly sweet and left a question to be explored in the sequel. Truly, this is an excellent book in many ways.
Unfortunately, the formatting was very poor with no indents at the beginning of a paragraph, nor a gap between them. A few too many unnecessary adverbs, and passive and clumsy sentence constructions weakened the prose at the beginning but soon settled down into something more acceptable as the story gained momentum.
The story is well worth a read and with the issues dealt with, it would be worthy of an extra start and a spot on the Awesome Indies.