Gollancz, 279pp paperback, £7.99 cover price
Reviewed by R A Bardy [@mangozoid]
Destiny’s Star is technically book 3 of Elizabeth Vaughan’s Epics of Palins series, although it’s interesting to see that this is not mentioned or referred to in any way, shape or form by the publishers. The only reference to any previous books in the series is limited to an ‘Also by Beth Vaughan from Gollancz’ snippet at the front of the book, and even then only White Star (book 2) is mentioned, again with no reference to the Epics trilogy.
I should say at the outset that I’m not a fan of fantasy romance novels, and despite Destiny’s Star being more than capable of standing alone as a tale in itself I personally struggled to get to grips with it until well after the first 100+ pages. If you’re one for giving up on books early on if they fail to grab you (and I make no judgements if you are) then you’ll probably do well to pass over this forthwith.
This is the tale of Bethral and Ezren – a world-weary hardened female warrior and a sickly shrivelled storyteller – and tells of their seemingly forlorn love for each other. Neither of them believes they’re good enough for the other, and the story meanders along quite merrily making slow but deliberate references throughout. With plenty of sex thrown in. The spanner in the works comes from Ezren the storyteller, for he is a man unfortunately possessed of a powerful fiery wild magic he has no proper control over, at least not until late on in the book. ‘Twould seem however, that this magic belongs to the people of the Plains and the fearsome Warrior-Priests thereof want it back, at any cost, including the sacrifice of Ezren himself.
While I believe Beth’s world-building technique is good, it is glaringly obvious and with a plodding inevitability throughout. I recognise that many authors probably build novels from individual plot points, but this really felt like the reader is being frog-marched from one to the next with no effort exerted to shake things up a bit. The last 50 pages or so shot by very quickly, but the journey to get there felt shackled and roughshod.
Destiny’s Star is a stodgy, wooden read, and unless you’re a devoted fan of the genre or a fan of Beth’s previous work, I’d recommend steering clear.
* This review originally appeared on the British Fantasy Society website here