First off, what an awesome cover! I love how Jax is captured. The Crown’s Dog is the first book in The Golden Guard Trilogy (a prequel series to Air Awakens that I absolutely LOVED! You can read all my reviews for that series here.)
SUMMARY (from back): A coastal summer is turned upside down by a violent murder, and a quest for lost pirate treasure turns into a hunt for the killer.
Jax Wendyll is the crown’s dog. As punishment for the unspeakable crimes that torment him to this day, his life has been conscripted to the Empire Solaris. However, in an Empire afflicted by peace, his duties are relegated to unquestioningly aiding the antics of the youngest prince, Baldair.
Erion Le’Dan, a nobleman’s son, expects a quiet summer visit to the Imperial Palace, his only agenda to visit with his unlikely friends. But Jax’s discovery of the legendary pirate Adela Lagmir’s old workroom inspires a hunt for her long lost treasure.
The pursuit of Adela’s truth takes the three men to the Imperial summer manor, built along the old pirate mainstays. When Adela’s trident is branded into a murdered servant, Prince Baldair’s summer amusement of treasure-hunting becomes a hunt to find the killer. But, as mysteries compound, the ghosts of Jax’s past may not be the only things haunting them.
WHAT I THOUGHT: If you’ve read Air Awakens, you know the name “Crown’s Dog” refers to Jax Wendyll. He’s a good-hearted character who is quirky and unbalanced as a result of his past that torments him. We see him in action in this book and his deeds are definitely consistent with his later life. I love this character for he’s not afraid to breach convention and we see that on full display as he “deals” with the antics of a 16-year-old Prince Baldair who has yet to make a name for himself. I particularly loved the end of the book where events make him the “elder” identifying with Baldair and Erion’s inexperience with their first kills.
Speaking of Baldair, we find him at the awkward age of sixteen with too much testosterone and not enough sense, behaving impetuously. I loved how Kova sets up the tension between he and his older brother, Aldrick, which clearly reveals his motivations and undisciplined behavior. I guess the only surprising thing was the lack of any parental involvement–of course that would have destryed the entire storyline (LOL!). While I doubt he would agree, when my son was 16, he required adult intervention/supervision to avoid doing stupid things that would impact his life longer-term. The Emperor clearly has other things occupying his attention…but what of Baldair’s mother? We never see her in action.
And then there’s Erion. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him in action. The Air Awakens series alludes to him and then we see him up at the front, but only cameos. This is the first time I saw him in action in a way that allowed me to understand him motivations and I loved it. I really got the sense of his political motivations and how he wrestled with exploiting his relationship with the prince for his own and his family’s gain. That, and his ties to the history with his homeland that had been conquered by and incorporated into the Solaris Empire.
All in all, the plot was engaging–who can’t appreciate preying on people’s fear of ghosts–and the characters made it a very enjoyable read. I’ll definitely be reading the next book in this trilogy!
I give The Crown’s Dog 5 stars!
Buy The Crown’s Dog on Amazon. It’s in Kindle Unlimited, too!