REVIEW by EN Blake: The Cipher by Diana Pharaoh Francis

In Crosspointe, surrounded by a dangerous sea, wild majick surges with the tides as do the fortunes of the royal family.

As a minor member of the royal family, Lucy Trenton’s ability to sense majick is one of her most dangerous secrets. But only one.A blackmailer knows the other.

Suddenly, Lucy is caught in a treasonous plot to destroy the crown, and she’s trapped in the tentacles of a desperate, destructive majick. Her only hope is ship captain Marten Thorpe, who–by every account–cannot be trusted. With time running out, Lucy must find a way to win a dangerous game or lose everything she holds dear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Book

The Cipher
by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Series
Crosspointe Book One

Genre
Adult
Historical Fantasy
Romantic Fantasy

Publisher
Bell Bridge Books

Publication Date
June 6, 2014

Purchase Your Copy Today!
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EN’s Review

Straight off the bat, there’s a lot of world-building in The Cipher. Those who are fond of in-depth fantasy worlds, the Crosspointe Chronicles or Diana Pharaoh Francis may not mind. However, the constant in-world terms and scenarios at the beginning of the book may get tedious unless you’ve already decided to stick with the book. That being said—the world built by The Cipher (and continued in the other books of the Crosspointe Chronicles) is an enjoyable one. If you love in-depth fantasy worlds that have a realistic and well thought out environment and political system, definitely consider reading The Cipher.

The city of Crosspointe and the seas surrounding it is almost a character in itself, the constant threat of sylveth and the magical artefacts and spawn it has created is skilfully used to build tension and provide plot devices in a way that never feels unrealistic or forced. The use of the setting to both shape the political environment and provide a constant, low-grade threat was reminiscent of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, in the best way.

Lucy was an amazing heroine, and the host of secondary characters and antagonists in the novel provided a perfect backdrop for her character to be explored. She doesn’t suffer from Main Character Orphan Syndrome, instead possessing a large, caring family that both furthered the plot and provided motivation for her actions at several key points in the novel.

Lucy’s relationship with her love interest was unique, and it was refreshing to read a heroine with a healthy attitude towards intimacy, rather than one who falls in love at the drop of a hat to ‘justify’ her existence as a sexual being. None of that here! Lucy is not promiscuous, but she has had lovers before, something the book and her love interest both treat as normal (as they should). Throughout the novel Lucy is a character in her own right, even when she becomes involved with her love interest—Marten Thorpe. She has friends, family and jobs (that’s right, plural) that inform her decisions, ensuring that she never seems like less than a full person.

One of best things about this novel is the believable way the tension was introduced—Lucy’s job, family, abilities and past justify her actions, but her perspective and the way she handles the situation never feels predictable. She takes responsibility without acting the martyr, takes calculated risks without seemingly over bold, and all in all acts in ways totally contrary to most protagonists, while still being very much a hero. Keros and Sarah are both intriguing characters that deserve to be explored and featured in future books.

As much as the world built-in The Cipher is amazing, as a novel in its own right there are a few plot holes. Lucy’s relationship seems to build naturally on her end, but Marten’s feelings for her are a little harder to accept. Marten’s relationship with his brother also falls a little flat to me, perhaps more indications of the effect the man had had on Marten’s life would have made the drama that plays out between the two more effective.

While the final conflict seemed a bit abrupt—both in the quick escalation and sudden conclusion, the ending of The Cipher was interesting, and both Lucy and Marten had grown by the end of the book, The Cipher is a fresh, interesting fantasy novel with a strong heroine and a great setting. It is the beginning of an amazing series, and one that anyone who enjoys classic fantasy, great world building, interesting politics and kickass heroines would enjoy.

See All Reviews by EN Blake

Disclaimer

The review copy of this book was borrowed from a friend by the reviewer. All titles reviewed on this blog are a fair and honest assessment of the book. No monetary compensation was received in exchange for this review. For more information regarding our review process, please visit our Review Policy & Review Request Submission page.

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