“It’s a very brave and noble thing, to risk one’s life to save that of another.” – Annabelle Jacobs
Title: Capture (Torsere: Book One) and Union (Torsere: Book Two)
Author: Annabelle Jacobs
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages/230 Pages
Rating: 4.5 Stars Overall
Blurb: Over two hundred years ago, when dragons were hunted for their blood, the King of Torsere offered them sanctuary. In return, the dragons bestowed a magical gift on the King’s people, allowing those born with the mark to become dragon riders and forge a mental connection between dragon and rider.
King Ryneq of Torsere is undeniably attracted to Nykin, a young dragon rider. Ryneq’s sister, Cerylea, encourages him to pursue the relationship. But with the stresses of ruling Torsere, a romantic attachment is low on Ryneq’s list of priorities. Nykin admires the king from afar, but wants more than to warm his bed for a night or two.
Torsere remains under threat from the lowland armies of Rodeth and Athisi. To protect their kingdom, Ryneq and Cerylea intend to form an alliance with the elves through Cerylea’s marriage to elf prince Morkryn. On the road to the wedding, the lowland army attacks the party. Cerylea escapes, but Ryneq is captured and taken to the impenetrable Risvery Castle. In the aftermath, Nykin volunteers for a perilous mission, endangering the lives of him and his dragon. The odds are against him, but Nykin will risk everything for his duty and his king.
Review: I’m going to start right out by saying that as a huge fan of Alt U/Fantasy, I’m so excited to have discovered these books. The introduction to the kingdom of Torsere and the myriad characters and creatures that populate it, the good and bad and magical, was a fun, sometimes horrible, but action-filled journey. There’s a threat from the lowland army to Torsere’s peace, and an alliance between Torsere and the elven kingdom of Hervath—a pact that could shore up Torsere’s strength in a war that looms on the near horizon—may be the only thing that saves them.
Capture introduces this world and its characters, pulling a handful of significant details together and centering them around the brewing battle that escalates to the maximum suspense point when King Ryneq is taken prisoner and Nykin makes a sacrifice of himself in order to free His Majesty—the man with whom Nykin is secretly (or maybe not so secretly) infatuated. There are scenes of physical torture in the book that were intensely written, breathtaking and heart-stopping, and served to show the mettle of the men who suffered it all so bravely.
Union doesn’t start the battle, only brings the threat closer, making it feel more like a bridge that will connect Capture to the next book in the series, but Union does much more to further the relationship between Ryneq and Nykin, to solidify the union between Torsere and Hervath, and reveals just how far Seran, the one who means to end Torsere, will go to get the job done. Some of the imagery in these books is so beautifully detailed, especially when the setting moves to Hervath, and I loved the way my imagination took over picturing the scenery.
The author lets her imagination take flight along with her dragon riders, the elite flying squad that protects the kingdom of Torsere from above. Though this isn’t a huge world that’s built upon layer after layer of meticulous detail—which can sometimes make high fantasy a struggle to follow—it is a world built upon magic and danger, plenty enough to let you know you’re reading something just that little bit different.
It’s the blood bond between Nykin and his dragon Fimor, though, that makes this story more than just a simple Alt U/Fantasy, and it’s the difficulties of the relationship between Nykin and Ryneq that make this story a little something more than a standard romance. I love the ancient magic that connects the dragon riders to their dragons. I’d never have imagined it possible for an author to make me feel so sentimental about something so foreign, but Annabelle Jacobs accomplished it effortlessly.
Capture is a terrific beginning to a series, and Union is a great, though somewhat more sedate, continuation. I’m anxious to get more of the story as the alliance between Torsere and the elves evolves to its full potential, and the return of a deadly enemy guarantees there’s much more action and intrigue to come. These books are a purely escapist pleasure read, with characters who all take full advantage of their page time.