“The truth might never have come to light had the King not gotten drunk at his wedding banquet and choked to death on a pheasant bone.”

 

A funny opening sentence to be sure offered by Elizabeth Burton in The Ugly Princess. Those that know something of me from my reviews here and elsewhere know that I am not a big fan of fantasy. With the exception of Terry Goodkind, most fantasy seems to me to be redundant and boring. Then I received this very enjoyable novel from the author. She has penned a grand tale of palace intrigue and deceit, sinister forces unleashed in a world of fantasy, and more than anything, the power of romance. This novel works across all levels and a fantasy setting only serves in improve the novel as to have done anything else would diminish the work.

 

Simplifying greatly, King Edrick of Abernal died at the afore mentioned feast. The only reason King Edrick was even having a wedding feast was that the previous Queen, whom he could not divorce because of extreme financial penalties, has finally died. He banished her to the far reaches of the Kingdom years ago and with word of her death, it is time for another political marriage. He must have a son, legitimate, preferably since all the illegitimate children are dead, to take over his Kingly duties someday. Upon word of the Queen’s death, plans are quickly made for King Edrick to marry Yolanthe of Nadwich, the young daughter of King Benifaz. Upon meeting King Edrick, she is clearly less than thrilled with the repulsive idea but is powerless to stop it.

 

As it turns out, she is spared consummating the marriage with King Edrick thanks to his sudden death. The only living heir, known as The Ugly Princess and the spawn of a previous political union is needed to keep the throne in the family. She is rumored to be hideously deformed but since killing her wasn’t an option, she has lived for the last twenty years at the far edges of the empire in a keep high in the foothills. There she is attended to by trolls, the only ones who can deal with her vulgar appearance.

 

Knowing that the ministers of the Royal Court seek to consolidate their power and have her killed, the Royal Champion Sir Christopher Evergild, leaves to bring her back. As the next rightful holder of the throne, he will swear an oath of fealty to her and then return her to the castle and the throne that is rightfully hers. At the same time, Bartrim Ruford, Seneschal of House Rediman is left to deal with King Benifaz’s attempt to claim King Edrick’s vacant throne as his as well as the political machinations of traitors within the palace walls that seek their own power.

 

Shifting in viewpoint from Bartrim to Sir Christopher, the novel is an enjoyable tale of palace intrigue where the dark forces may not all be mankind’s making. Featuring complex characters, plenty of action and twists, humor and romance, this novel keeps the reader enthralled as it works toward the inevitable confrontations on many different levels. While this review simply does not do the book justice, do not let that deter you from this very good read which appears to be the start of a possible series.

 

 

The Ugly Princess: The Karlathia Chronicles

Elizabeth Burton

Zumaya Publications

http://www.zumayapublications.com

2003

ISBN# 978-1894942096

Paperback

216 Pages

 

 

Kevin R. Tipple ©2003, 2011

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