Alathea: Goddess & Empress by Dylan Madeley is an action-packed fantasy story, set in the fictional City of Port Selumer and beyond.
Thank you to Shannon of R&R Book Tours for sending me a free copy of Alathea: Goddess & Empress in return for an honest review.
Alathea begins with the young Alathea asking her father, the Emperor Maximian, to tell the story of her father again — which Alathea later confesses is her way of making her father stay with her for longer. Her mother died when Alathea was very young, murdered by an assassin from the Falcon’s Eye. Maximian has almost entirely rooted out all members of this order to have his revenge and ensure that his daughter will be safe. He has word that the remaining members are in a village in the north and goes to finish them, along with his adviser and Alathea’s tutor, Rheb. From there, we have a whirlwind of events – conspiracies, betrayal, a romance, plague and more.
There are lots of great ideas in this book! Dylan has created a fascinating new epic fantasy world that is enriched with different cultures. At the start, we learn that Rheb is a very distant relative of the Emporer’s. He was raised on an island that is isolated from the rest of the world. “Rheb’s people had the power to make grandiose lies into lifelong truths, considered sacred across generations. This was the closest thing to sorcery that Maximian ever found, and he felt proud that this sorcery found its way into the blood of a distant relation.” I would love to have learned more about this and what this entails, as it didn’t seem to be talked about again.
Alathea: Goddess & Empress is only 288 pages and yet a lot happens in a very short space of time. I felt like there wasn’t quite enough depth to each part of the story, before it moved onto the next event. I would have loved to have more time focusing on Alathea, Rheb and her father, as well as Alathea’s prospective love interest, Einar.
Alathea herself is an interesting character. She is prepared to do anything to get what she wants, which we see hints of at the very start. She proclaims herself a goddess in a transformation that reminded me of Queen Elizabeth I. She also learns to fight, and I liked that this wasn’t an overnight ability — she works hard to train with Einar. She’s definitely a morally ambiguous character!
Overall this was a good story but I think it should have been longer, and perhaps some events toward the end of the book should be in a sequel. This would have left more space for the action, as a lot of the combat takes place ‘off-screen’, as it were. It also would have allowed the characters such as Rheb and Einar to develop further. But I liked that things didn’t turn out quite how I expected — it subverts the usual fantasy narrative which made it an interesting read!
The blurb for Alathea: Goddess & Empress
“She despised her father’s world. Why couldn’t sorcery be true? Would that world not be better?”
Alathea was raised to rule, but the benevolent and deranged forces that hope to prepare her for the throne may create a monster. She’s torn between her father’s reign of empty order through terror and violence, and a magical path that could be completely illusory. She can’t live one exclusive of the other, so she lives both.
Her father is bent on protecting his daughter from the same fanatics who killed her mother, but far too often his desire for revenge takes him away from her. His yearning to raise a strong and steadfast heir compromises what little time they spend together.
Her tutor intends to help her be better than her father, more sensible and knowledgeable, in control of her own story and the narrative of the empire just as her mother had been. But he isn’t raising her alone and can’t predict how his teachings will be used.
Her nurse subtly coaxes her toward a path of faith and enlightenment according to the nurse’s secret masters, believing that Alathea can be saved and in turn save the empire. But the Seers have grim plans that they would never reveal to their minion.
This tragic story touches on loss, the insatiable hunger for control, the way people live stories and narratives, the innocence and danger of dreams, the follies of love, the deep hatred and rage dwelling within people, and the dangers of using conquest to strive for peace.
Embattled by all the forces hoping to shape her to their whim, Alathea takes a piece of everything they give her and becomes something never before seen in the land. Goddess. Empress. Monster.
About the author, Dylan Madeley
Dylan Madeley is a Torontonian currently working out of a headquarters in Vaughan, Ontario. He is the copy editor of and a frequent contributor to Auxiliary Magazine, an alternative fashion and music zine. His first novel, The Gift-Knight’s Quest, was released May 28, 2015. He has appeared at The Word on the Street Festival in Toronto, Canada’s largest book fair, and successfully debuted his second novel, The Crown Princess’ Voyage, at the Ad Astra convention in May 2017. He completed his trilogy with the official release of The Masked Queen’s Lament in July 2018.