Prince Valerian longs to become a scholar, a dream spurned by his family in his war-torn kingdom. When the crowned prince is cut down in battle, Valerian must step forward to lead his father’s army to war. To wear the crown he never wanted, he will have to prove his worth to a people who value power over philosophy.
Mercy, a healer from a peaceful village, loses everything dear to her in one terrible morning. She joins the prince and his companion to rally the people and defeat the Horde that would destroy them all. The prince will need every ally if he is to stop the lizard-like beasts who seek to annihilate his people.
Right from the beginning I wanted to root for Valerian. There were a couple of quickly passing moments where I hesitated a little bit, but he’s definitely the classic form of one of my favorite heroes – a good guy in a tough place who has to make some really hard choices. I felt much the same way about Mercy.
So often right now YA features stories in which the protagonists whine about how terrible things are and how they just want to do things their own way. These guys are not like that at all. Mercy’s Prince definitely has that more classic feel, where the characters get handed tasks they never wanted and they man up and work to make the best of things. I found that attitude really admirable, and while I enjoy a good rebel, too, this story felt fresh and lovely. My only complaint with regard to characters is that Mercy’s little brother was kind of flat for me. At the beginning he was kind of a trouble-maker and then suddenly, he turned into this constantly helpful cooperative four year-old. I kind of wanted to see more conflict there, more sides of his behavior. He’s not a huge part of the story, though, so that didn’t really detract from my enjoyment much at all.
Though the narrative isn’t perhaps as polished as stories coming from mammoth publishing houses, love for the characters and an intriguing plot kept me turning page after page each time I sat down to read. Mercy’s Prince is easily one of the best indie novels I’ve ever read. I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy Mary Weber’s Storm Siren Trilogy or Jill Williamson’s Blood of Kings series.
Brief references to a couple looking forward to their wedding night, as in looking forward to being “one flesh.” It’s pretty tactful.
All the members of Mercy’s village have taken an oath of pacifism in response to their faith in the Most High God. Some characters possess Gifts – to See into the thoughts of others, to supernaturally Heal others, etc. (The capital letters are used in the story to indicate the use of the supernatural gift.)
Dragons exist and can speak to humans and one another mind to mind.
Prince Valerian witnesses his brother’s death. He’s cut down by a lizard-like enemy. Several battle scenes depict warfare between men and the lizard-like Horde. A group of soldiers massacre an entire village of civilians. Assassins attempt to kill the prince and his companions. These events are described with some level of detail. The story doesn’t dwell too long on the gory stuff, but there are some descriptions that really sensitive readers might be uncomfortable with.
References to a festival at which men become drunk and rowdy. The major characters see this as a dangerous behavior and withdraw from the event.