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Pretender to the Crown

(The Saga of Willow North #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  359 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Willow North is a thief, and despite her secret magical talent for sensing worked metal, she has never wanted to be anything else. But when her former fiancé appears on her doorstep with the eight-year-old King of Tremontane in tow, she is drawn into the political conflict surrounding the boy King's ascension. His uncle, a powerful Ascendant with the magic of manipulating ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published October 30th 2017 by Night Harbor Publishing (first published September 19th 2017)
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
3.5 stars. Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Pretender to the Crown (2017) follows the adventures of Willow North, a professional thief who’s always been a lone wolf type of personality. Willow has an inherent magical talent for sensing worked metals: she both sees it ― even in total darkness and through walls ― and feels it. It’s a particularly handy talent for a thief, since she can see where metal jewelry is hidden and when guards with swords are approaching. Anyone with a stro
Jacob Proffitt
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, chaste, romance
Yes, I'm reviewing another of Melissa's books. And yeah, feel free to disregard this as hopelessly biased—even more so as I show up in the dedication of this one. I do try to be honest in all my reviews and these are no different, but I am pretty close to the material.

Willow North is a thief with a favorite prey: Tremontane's magical Ascendants. The largely unaccountable Ascendants act with a great deal of impunity and arrogance and Willow hates that and everything they stand for. So much so tha
Sherwood Smith
This is a solid, fast-paced beginning to what is going to be a larger story arc (The Saga of Willow North). Readers familiar with McShane's Tremontane world will know the name Willow North from earlier stories, and so we know (kind of) how this ends. The question is, how did she get there?

I love origin stories that begin with the focal character not the least aware of their destiny. Willow is a thief, half-feral in her emotional isolation, and yet she possesses enough of a moral center to spark
Caelena Fey
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
“I can’t believe you didn’t notice me. Either you’re slipping, or I’ve become unbelievably stealthy.”
“I was thinking of something else.”
“I remember someone telling me that excuses only get you killed.”
“Whoever she was, she was smart. Too bad she didn’t listen to her own advice.”
“She also said good advice was like snow in summer: rare, fleeting, and ultimately useless.”
“Definitely a smart woman. I’d like to meet her.”
“You’d like her. I do.”
“Do you?”

I was engaged enough when I read this, but I
Melissa McShane
Sep 19, 2017 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
The first Tremontane book I wrote was Agent of the Crown (which is the third novel in the series, but that's a different story). In it, I included a throwaway line by the main character to the effect that she felt sorry for her ancestor Willow North because that was such a frivolous name. At the time, I had no idea Willow would ever be anything but a one-time joke.

Fast-forward two years, when I'd written the other two Tremontane novels and decided to mention Willow again in both, just for fun. W
Anna lost in stories *A*
I got an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review :) long story short... I am absolutely in love with this story... if I could I would start the sequel straight away... and not only because this one ends on a sort of a cliffhanger ;) it's a fantasy story, first one in a series, and like the title suggests, it's the beginning of a saga about Willow :) so yeah, you will have to read the books in order to understand all the connections :) but it's going to be a trilogy, and ...more
Jana Brown
I've been a big fan of the Crown of Tremontane books since I picked up the first one. After finishing the first three (in publication order) I really really wanted to know more about Willow North, who is teased often, but as she was the first Queen of Tremontane centuries before the events of Servant all we ever got were those hints.

Well...hint no more! Beginning with Pretender to the Crown we get the story of Willow North, and I love it. I'm sure if I really wanted to get critical I could find
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a prequel to The Crown of Tremontane series. I haven’t had a chance to read that series yet, and am looking forward to it even more after reading this book.

I love the worlds Melissa McShane creates! And she always has great characters! I really liked Willow and Kerish. They are so different, and it’s cost them, but their chemistry is undeniable. Felix is precious. He is so sweet and has a great desire to be a good king. I loved watching Willow’s motivations for helping Felix grow and cha
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow - the pacing in this book is spot on! It grabbed me right from the first chapter and didn't let go. Even when it dropped me on my ear two chapters later.

I like the main characters a lot. The arguments and problems feel very real, and I like that they don't just magically solve them without any effort. And neither just gives in to the other. Hopefully that continues as they work things out in the arc of the trilogy. (Yes - this is a series, which didn't sink in until I finished reading. Gaaaa
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This might be my favorite book set in the Tremontane universe yet. And, since it's a prequel series set hundreds of years before Servant of the Crown, it's a good place to start if you're interested.

Willow North is content with her life as a thief. Her prey of choice are Ascendants, or mages, who abuse their power. Willow has inherent magic of her own - the ability to sense worked metal - but she abhors the Ascendants and their power-hungry ways.

However, her life is uprooted when her ex-fiancé,
Ivusha (Tenebien)
This is going to be a nightmare to review.
The world is great, I love the differeces between the countries (even though we could learn way more about them and other stuff), but that's probably it...
I didn't think I wanted to finish this after Part 1 (first two chapters), because of the insta-love. I generally hate that. And the way this happened I wasn't on board. But from the blurb I knew they would break up or something, so I kept reading.
Willow is a great strong main character, Felix is ama
John Olsen
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One thing I noticed over and over is the descriptions of the scenes in Pretender to the Crown. They really came alive and made a wonderful backdrop to the characters, who were well fleshed out and easy to care about. I read an advance reader copy since I've read several of Melissa's books in the past. I like this one better than most, although Burning Bright is a close race for number one.

If you're a romance reader, things might seem to be in reverse order as the relationship develops/degrades b
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretender to the Crown is the first installment to Melissa McShane’s series, The Saga of Willow North. It is the first introduction for me to this author’s work. I thought it was pretty good. I loved the characters, setting, and plot. I found it to be charming and magical. I would give it 4 ½ stars and recommend it. I look forward to reading more in this series in the future.
I received this book from the author, but was not required to write a review. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, fantasy, three-stars
It had been a while since I read Servant to the Crown, but since this is set a couple of hundred years before that book, I was very pleased to learn that I didn't need to remember much about it at all, even with this being a prequel to the other series!

This book wasn't anything spectacular or new and I realize it's not exactly a good way to start a review, but despite that, it was still entertaining enough. Yes, it had some flaws like I'm not a big fan of insta-love and the world building was a
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

I’ve read some of Melissa McShane’s other books, but I haven’t yet read any of the Tremontane series. Since this novel takes place before the others, it seemed like as good a place to start as any.

Willow North is a thief who targets Ascendants, the powerful and wealthy magic users of Tremontane. Although Willow has magical abilities herself, she has no interest in joining a group of people she regards as corrupt oppressors of the rest of the population. When she falls in love with Keri
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
really enjoyed this. i'm in a bit of a reading slump so i was looking for a fun fantasy book to ease me into things.

the novel opened with two chapters covering the meeting between willow and kerish and how they fell in love. then there's a time skip and the events in the summary happen. framing the story like that really surprised me and gave me the impression that the romance would be a lot more important than it was. coz honestly the strength of this book lies in willow's characterization and
Kaitlyn Price
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another fantastic novel from Melissa McShane. I have 3 reasons you should read this book, though as you read it, I'm sure you'll find many more. The characters in this book are interesting and dynamic. The book follows 3 primary characters with Willow North guiding the narrative. Though it's not first person, the narrative is driven by her and carries a lot of her personality. This created continuity and gives the reader a sense of connection to the story and characters. I felt like if Willow tr ...more
Brent Johnson
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC copy of this book.

I have really enjoyed the previous books written in this world and was happy to see another story arc set in the Tremontane setting. Because this book is a prequel, set approximately 200 years before the events in "Servant of the Crown", the initial book in the "Crown of Tremontane" series, there is no need to have read the later books to follow this one. If you have read the "Crown of Tremontane" books, this series will hopefully answer som
Lissa Hawley
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderfully clever book.

The magic system is unique and the heroine's power different than any I have read previously.

The characters are full of life and complex personalities, and I loved them all. (They even made me like a small child, and anyone who knows me knows how annoying I usually find them in stories.)

My only quibble is minor. As the heroine spends a significant portion of the story in a land not her own, during her interactions with people of another culture, the verisimil
The Mysterious Reader
This is a fantastic fantasy novel, full of adventure and with wonderful characters that start strong, improve as time goes on, and clearly have far to go. The lead, Willow North, starts out as a thief with some magical ability bit is well on a path towards greatness by the book's end. The supporting characters, from ex-fiancé Kerish to Felix, the hunted the eight-year-old rightful King of Tremontane, to those who help them, who hunt them and who they simply meet in their travels, are all well cr ...more
Lisa Venerussi
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just loved this book! I was given a copy, and once I started reading it I was unable to stop until I'd finished! Well-written and complex characters, combined with an action-packed storyline, made me desperate to find out what happened next. I truly enjoyed this return to the world of "Servant Of The Crown", and will be eagerly anticipating the next book in the series. All my opinions are my own, and I was under no obligation to leave a review. ...more
David J
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent start to the prequel trilogy set in the Tremontane world. Willow North is an intriguing heroine, starting out as straight thief and developing into much more. The nation of Escandel is also well drawn. The politics is heavy and deadly.The relationship between Keresh and Willow is confused as they try to heal how they have hurt each other. Add in the 8-year-old king of Tremontane And you have the makings of an enjoyable story.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-on-kindle, 2020
Though I have truly grown to love Melissa McShane, this wasn't my favourite of the Tremontane books - it felt very slow moving, and the cliff hanger ending felt too little of a payoff after 350+ pages. That being said it was gratifying to read about how Willow North started her journey to power, and Felix was a delight. No doubt I'll continue this prequel series at some point, though I won't be in any hurry. ...more
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book and couldn't put it down. It made think of Modesitt Jr with the detailed descriptions that get the book alive and throw you in a different culture and world.
It 's actually set two hundreds years before the Crown of Tremotane so you don't need to read the serie first.
Arc copy received.

Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome story about a thief's personal journey as she rescues a small king with her ex-lover. The only thing I disliked about the story was that it just ended in a to be continued rather than wrapping up the arc of this book. ...more
Erin Klepfer
This book has an interesting storyline, but I had a hard time getting into the story. The world building needed just a little more work to comprehend the differences. It's not a bad book, it just seems to drag a little. ...more
Feb 17, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It'a an okay book. Kerish is very passive throughout the story (like furniture, somewhere in the background), I didn't find him interesting as a character. The conflict between him and Willow was frustrating - just let them talk it out!! ...more
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i absolutely love Willow North! i need the next book Now!!
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really, really like Willow. More than I think I like any of McShane's other heroines. I can't wait to find out how her story continues! ...more
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. This book was a decent light read. There isn't any need to first read the other books in this "universe" as those cover events many generations after those in this book. ...more
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Melissa grew up a nomad, following her family all over the United States, and ended up living in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains with her husband, four kids, and three very needy cats. Her love of reading was always a constant during those uncertain years, and her love of writing grew out of that. She wrote reviews and critical essays for many years before turning to fiction, and was surprised ...more

Other books in the series

The Saga of Willow North (3 books)
  • Guardian of the Crown (The Saga of Willow North, #2)
  • Champion of the Crown (The Saga of Willow North, #3)

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