Once Second Prince of the mightiest kingdom in the known world, Othrun now leads the last survivors of his exiled people into an uncertain future far across the Shimmering Sea from their ancestral home, now lost beneath the waves. With his Single God binding his knights to chivalric oaths, intent on wiping out idolatry and pagan worship, they will have to carve out a new kingdom on this mysterious continent―a continent that has for centuries been ravaged by warlords competing for supremacy and mages channeling the mystic powers of the elements―and unite the continent under godly rule.
With a troubled past, a cursed sword, and a mysterious spirit guiding him, Othrun means to be that ruler, and conquer all. But with kingdoms fated on the edge of spears, alliances and pagan magic, betrayal, doubt, and dangers await him at every turn. Othrun will be forced to confront the truths of all he believes in on his journey to become a king, and a legend.
When one kingdom drowns, a new one must rise in its place. So begins the saga of that kingdom, and the man who would rule it all.
P.L. Stuart was born in Toronto, Canada. He holds a university degree in English, specializing in Medieval Literature. P.L. is an assistant editor with Before We Go Blog https://beforewegoblog.com/ . The Drowned Kingdom Saga chronicles flawed and bigoted Prince Othrun's journey towards change, and his rise to power in a new world after the downfall of his homeland, which is based on Plato's lost realm of Atlantis. The Bestselling "A Drowned Kingdom" is mentioned in the esteemed Kirkus Magazine’s 2021 Indie Issue among “Four Great Examples of the Genre” of fantasy and won the 2022 Picky Bookworm Award for Best Indie Book Based on Mythology.
Submerge yourself in the majesty of P.L. Stuart’s masterful debut novel, A Drowned Kingdom, a fantasy inspired by the mythology of Atlantis. A Drowned Kingdom asks the question: when the most powerful country in the world is swallowed by the sea, can a new kingdom rise again?
The novel opens with a colonialist mission conducted by the First and Second Princes of the island kingdom of Atalanyx. While their objective is obviously political, they use religion to justify their actions, having the goal of converting pagans from their polytheistic religion to the one true God of Atalanyx. The monotheistic Atalantean religion is represented by the sign of the triangle and the circle, as depicted on the minimalistic cover of the novel.
A Drowned Kingdom is told as a first-person narrative by Othrun, the Second Prince of Atalantyx and half-brother of First Prince Erthal, heir to the kingdom. P.L. Stuart’s decision to employ single-perspective first-person narration works very effectively, although it is often discomforting being stuck inside the head of a despicable character such as Othrun. It doesn’t take long for Othrun to reveal his racism, misogyny, and religious intolerance.
Being inside Othrun’s head creates a morality distortion field on par with some of the greatest grimdark protagonists. But P.L. Stuart’s approach is also unique with the deeply religious influences on Othrun’s reasoning. Othrun’s belief in the Atalantean religion with its one true God seems genuine, but there are moments when his religious fervor may cross over into delirium. Othrun’s faith-based explanations for major events in the novel push him further into zealotry. P.L. Stuart has done a marvelous job plumbing the depths of Othrun’s psychology as he justifies treachery and sets himself on a path toward possible tyranny.
A Drowned Kingdom is also heavy on politics, and P.L. Stuart is adept at capturing the nuances of political interactions and the subtle games that people play to give themselves an advantage.
Although this is his debut novel, P.L. Stuart writes like a well-seasoned veteran. His prose has a gravitas that feels Biblical in some parts and like a historical diary in others. Despite its formality, Stuart’s prose is remarkably accessible, captivating me from the first page. The story itself is a slow burn but methodically paced.
P.L. Stuart is a master of characterization. The worldbuilding in A Drowned Kingdom is exceptionally well done. Yet this is just the tip of the iceberg, as our view is limited by Othrun’s unreliable tunnel vision.
Overall, A Drowned Kingdom is a remarkable debut that will appeal equally to grimdark and classic epic fantasy fans. The saga continues with The Last of the Atalanteans, the next installment in P.L. Stuart’s planned seven-book series, The Drowned Kingdom.
Some books build in depth with great care, slowly drawing you into a complex world with complex civilizations and characters. This is one such book, and the slow burn approach takes you on a journey until you are there, and the setting is realized.
Told in the first person, the first half of this story is written from a narrative stream of consciousness, shifting about at the half point into a more action and dialogue orientation. When things start to pop, the reader is thoroughly invested in the hero and the plight of his people.
First book in a series, the author is fearless in tackling many issues - from religion to cultural differences, to multiple civilizations and races. Second Prince Othrun begins the tale as the product of his background as second prince in an empire styled culture, civilized, and inculcated in the self-centric view that his kingdom and fiefdom is the best on earth. We, as reader, see just enough around the edges to know he has a lot of growth coming as the status quo breaks apart, and he must face the larger world, larger issues, and consider wider points of view to save his people.
A promising start to a series that is very likely to challenge assumptions on many levels, watch out, because by the ending you will be excited to see where the story will go from here - and beware of the cliffhanger, you will probably want the sequel in hand.
Complex character, complex problems and a clash of ideologies are my delight. Stories where the choices and actions are not cut and dried - and what sacred principles must be broken, reexamined, or rebuilt to save a people - this book would be for you.
4.5/5 what a pleasant surprise!!! A truly beautiful debut from PL Stuart!!!
I usually do not enjoy slow politically heavy fantasy. HOWEVER, I am happy to say that A Drowned Kingdom is an exception. The story hyper focuses on the story of Atlantean Prince Othrun. A pious slightly bigoted heir to the throne. Despite these flaws, he is neither wholly evil nor good but a complex and interesting mix.
We follow him as he struggles against threats the to Atlantean throne. Threats to the nation can come from outside or from within his own family!
People familiar with Atlantean myth can guess where the story heads. But the legend continues and Othrun is forced to preserve his culture and save his people. Through battle, negotiation, and manipulation.
I cannot wait to read the follow-up to this poignant debut. If you love a slow burn and dense fantasy that analyzes what it takes to preserve and throne and a kingdom you need to look no further! P.L. Stuart has created a complex and Diverse world with Angels and magic that will delight readers for years.
It is rare that a book causes me to take this big of a step back prior to formulating my thoughts. Just as I needed to spend time with the book itself and take in all the details, I needed to spend some time working on how to articulate my thoughts afterward.
P.L. has achieved a level of worldbuilding in this novel that is truly remarkable. The lineage of every family, thousands of years of history, the cultures, habits, religions of each nation are so detailed. The book feels more like a historical narrative, a book about people who might have actually walked through the pages of our own history books.
Despite the book's density in detail, the prose did not follow suit. The attention to prose style was clear, but it was not difficult to read. It flows surprisingly well. There were a few times when I felt that the characters were getting a little lost in the details.
There are a lot of heavy themes in this book. Yet despite this, P.L. manages to infuse a strong sense of humanity in each character as they stumble through their individual prejudices, which I think is important. It removes the all too often dehumanization that occurs when controversial themes are explored.
Othrun is a bold choice as a protagonist, and I'd be lying if I said it was always pleasant to be locked into his head during the story. There were moments when I put the book down and allowed myself space to process and come back to it.
Overall, I appreciate many things about this book, most of all the distinct characterization of the cast. My favorite character so far is Hert, and I enjoyed him immensely, which is why he gets a special shoutout here. :) In A Drowned Kingdom, P.L. has created a sweeping epic to rival any history of our own world.
This is probably the hardest review I've ever had to write because I have so much to say about A Drowned Kingdom and oh so many notes.
I picked this book up after hearing about it through SPFBO and being recommended by a couple of friends. The title 'A Drowned Kingdom' about great a great civilisation, with advanced weaponary and engineering, that gets swallowed by the ocean and the story of the outcast survivors?! I couldn't not read it. I named my daughter Atlantis after all!!
Slow burn fantasy isn't usually my pace, but everytime I put it down, I couldn't stop thinking about the characters in this book.
Told from the sole perspective of Prince Othrun, the second son of the King of Atalantyx, devout follower of the One True God, who initially strikes you as a bigoted d*uche canoe and the easiest of characters to dislike. Usually in books where one character is so easy to dislike, we get a second POV or character we can root for. This is not the case in A Drowned Kingdom.
As I read I found myself conflicted. Few characters are truely good. There is no simple good vs evil. All characters are flawed and self serving and yet honourable and virtuous. The depth of each character held me enthralled and I will need to do a reread to catch hints and precursors for things I may have missed first time around.
This is a character driven tale but that isn't to say nothing happens. The politics and schemes are well done, and just when you think you have everything sorted in your head we are thrown another twist after another twist.
Part one is slow but necessary to build the frame work of the characters and their motivations but pick up rather quickly in part two and three.
I'm intrigued by the magic in this and how it all ties into elemental gods. The character Lysi has my heart. She is never to be trusted but her swagger and reasoning for her actions is awesome.
Many issues we face in our real world are reflected in the text. Bigotry, racism and elitism. This all combined into a complex world of Gods, magic, war, politics and flawed characters out to get what they perceive is best for their people. I could write so much about this book and its intricacies! I have notes for daaays.
This is planned to be a long epic Saga and I can't wait to continue
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. A Drowned Kingdom is the start of a seven book epic fantasy series, but that is just scrapping the surface for what P.L. Stuart has in store for the world he has created. Written in an old school style where the histories and legacies of the kingdoms and past events will flow through from the very start. Very reminiscent of a J.R.R Tolkien or a Robert Jordan but the story will never feel dry or unending in the execution and direction for the characters. If this is your type of story, then buckle up and lets get into this.
The story is told in first person POV and follows the second prince Othrun. With his homeland now sitting beneath the waves of the angry sea, Othrun must lead his people to a foreign land in order to survive. Allies and enemies will be made and Othrun must turn to his most trusted advisors, loving wife, and the teachings of the Single God in order to survive. Othrun holds with him a cursed blade, an angel giving him directions, and the legacy of his people as a gift and a curse lest he forget the weight of the world on his shoulders
Please stick with me as I need to get into the structure and detail of the story because I feel some readers will be confused when opening up the first page. The novel is broken up into three parts and each one feels like it could be an entirely different author writing the words. Part one will discuss Othrun’s past and events that took place leading up to his people looking for a new home. This is where the major worldbuilding and history of this world will be revealed and some readers will enjoy this part more than others. Several chapters will not have any dialogue but the engrossing details will shape the action packed pages to come. Parts two and three will pick up the intensity tenfold but the overall tones and flow of the story will not deter readers whom will enjoy the slower moments.
Religion is a main driver for the motivations and desires for all the characters we meet. Othrun’s people believe in the Single God but the new lands they are traveling to believe in the Six Elemental Gods and the magic that certain people are able to release. The writing style can feel detail heavy at times but are very smooth and no one will feel out of place. Depending on the type of reader you are, certain sections of this book will appeal to you more than others but what readers of this story can universally agree on is the great ending and the desire to read the sequel right now.
With the second book in the series being released in February or March 2022, now is the time to jump on board. Although this is the debut novel for P.L. Stuart, he writes this stories like a author with twenty years experience. Count me in for this series and all future books to come from this author!
My podcast episode with P.L. Stewart is listed below:
Wow, just wow. A Drowned Kingdom is a book that pulls you in, absorbs you into it's world, and then refuses to let go. I would think about this book all of the time, making me think and ponder about what was to come. I felt like it was a real world, the book feeling it was a history of what transpired in the eyes of Othrun.
From the beginning, the religion and beliefs of Othrun become prominent and real. Written in a first-person narrative, we are able to see the world with the logic of his beliefs at the forefront. It captures a lot of the fantasy elements in a new light. The magic is present and just hinted at what is to come in the future. The action is breath-taking, beautifully described, and brutal. That is just the way that I like it.
The world is extremely rich. Beautifully detailed and different as we visit from place to place. You grow a true attachment to this world because of the love you can feel for it from the characters. The characters are extremely relatable. Each was detailed and used in ways that made complete sense according to the story. I like the flaws that each of them showed, making them real to the point of expecting to find them in a history book.
I eagerly look forward to the next installment of this series as it left some definite hints at what is to come. P.L. Stewart writes in a way that makes you want to read all day! Beautifully done and I can't recommend this book enough.
CW: Language and a few adult situations.
Thank you for reading my review and as always, Happy Reading!!
I give this book 5 stars! I could give it 100!I could give it it's own galaxy, it shines so bright!
Author P.L. Stuart thrills and enchants with his debut work, A Drowned Kingdom. We are met at the prologue by Prince Othrun as he grieves over the demise of his home, the island kingdom of Atalantyx. Beautiful descriptive writing then grants us a view of that land and its history while Stuart introduces us to the Royal line of King Atalan through the eyes of the young prince, before sweeping us off to the unknown continent of Acremia where Othrun’s adventures truly begin. Stuart is a master of characterization. Through skillfully written dialog, actions and mannerisms, each character is vividly brought to life, counterbalancing one another in gripping political intrigue, alliance, and romance. Our protagonist, Othrun, is a complicated man with great inner strength and weaknesses. His development from an idealistic young prince to a man challenged in every aspect of his life – his ambition, his beliefs, his relationships − sits as the jewel in this novel. We are invited to explore the depths and complexities of the Second Prince as much as the new continent with its diverse kingdoms and rulers. Lovers of book series like A Song of Ice and Fire and The Witcher will find themselves right at home. Political power play and an intriguing magic system in the hands of beguiling all-female mages along with thrilling battle scenes drives the pace forward, yet depth of character remains so poignant that every bit of action is filled with emotional stakes. A Drowned Kingdom has been one of the highlights of my reading list and with this strong first entry I expect great things for the series. I personally can’t wait for the next book, and I can highly recommend it to any Fantasy lover looking for an original and exceptionally crafted novel.
It has always amazed me how Fantasy writers can build a world and culture while developing a complex set of characters into a plotline that steadily moves forward into a rich and colourful tapestry of life. P.L. Stuart’s “A Drowned Kingdom” delivers on all of those. He has created a world that pulls you in from page one. The story of Prince Othrun and the Drowned Kingdom is told in the first person, a style I love because it makes you part of the story. You are not just an observer. You experience everything through the eyes of Prince Othrun, the leader of the dispossessed people of the Kingdom of Atalantyx. He takes them into a foreign and hostile land without guarantees, only the desire to establish a new Kingdom. At this point, Othrun has to face his past, present and future as he struggles with his faith, the reality that magic does exist and that he may not be who he has always believed. There are many elements to this story, and you must pay attention. I do not find Othrun to be either heroic or sympathetic, but he represents the chaotic nature of mankind. You stumble along with him as he makes decisions that could be the making of him and his people or their downfall. The cast of supporting characters is as richly drawn as Othrun. They are not as complex as the Prince, or are they? Only time will tell. I hesitate to give any more detail because this book cannot be reduced to a few paragraphs. So in the tradition of writers like Tolkein and George R.R. Martin, P.L. Stuart leaves Othrun’s adventure on a cliffhanger. I can’t wait for the sequel to this story. “A Drowned Kingdom” is a must-read for all fantasy lovers.
A couple things got me onto this book, first was the cover, it’s absolutely stunning for being so minimalistic with two shapes and some water. The second thing that got me was the name of the book and series, when I saw it I immediately added it to my TBR, I just knew I had to read it. What took me so long to read this was waiting for an opening in my scheduled TBR. With book 1 of the Daevabad trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty not being Whispersync’d, I decided to push that down my list and bring A Drowned Kingdom up!
“There was a saying in Atalantyx. Fools fall for tricks. Fools then fall.”
This is the first novel of a seven book series, A Drowned Kingdom is broken into 3 parts, part 1 has been described as a “slow burn” because it has a lot of focus on world and character building, it reminds me of how Robert Jackson Bennett starts off his Divine Cities trilogy with a chunk of the book creating the beautiful world and it’s people. It is told in a 1st person POV of past tense style of how the kingdom has fallen and how it happened. Parts 2 & 3 kick up the pace of the story with the characters off to discover a new land. There is still minimal action and magic that happens, even though the action is minimal, when it comes, it’s breath-takingly written and intricately detailed, it’s brutal and thrilling, which makes it worth the wait. The magical element of the story is simplistic in that it deals with elemental magic and divine intervention which both are limited in use so far in the story.
“But though he was big, I thought to myself, even a giant could never be as big as my ambitions.”
The story’s focus is based around religion, as our MC, Othrun, 2nd prince of Atalantyx, is a believer in the Single God and wants to conquer the pagan, multi-god believers and bring them under his control and belief of the one true god, sound familiar? Stuart being a history aficionado with a major in English/medieval lit and minor in history, dips his toes into real historical events to help weave his own beautiful tale that reads more like historical fiction than it does fantasy, it really feels like this could’ve been real historical events or at least part of an ancient mythology tale being retold with how well it is written. There are a bunch of influences that I caught while reading, some may be more accurate, some some may be my imagination running wild. The one that’s very easy to spot is Atlantis, as the home of Othrun is Atalantyx, maybe the destruction of Pompeii, this could also be part of the Atlantis influence as well. There is also a little tie in to the Roman persecution of the pagans. I also felt like there was a little bit of The Illiad and King Henry Viii story mixed in a tad, and finally there is a small nod to Norse mythology. Again, I might be reaching on a few of these.
“I slew a giant, but the real giant was still to be dealt with, which was my insecurity.”
Stuart creates our MC, Othrun, the second prince of Atalantyx to be massively flawed, he’s pompous, arrogant and a bigot. While this can be seen as a character you hate, it is somewhat of a signature of the time that Mr.Stuart is alluding to in the historical references that he uses to create his world, which is about 11th century-ish. To me, it’s showing how deeply flawed the time was, but also that when his character starts to redeem himself of these flaws later on in the series, it’s going to be that much bigger of a redemption arch.
“To bend knee to a heathen lord, even to secure my own kingdom, is a bitter taste.”
The fact that Mr. Stuart got two narrators in Adam Kurton & Sean Polite, is awesome. It gives the story a lot more of complexity and range of character voices with the different destinations that are explored within the story. The only thing I didn’t like about the the audio, is that the female voice used by the secondary narrator is too deep. He has a great booming voice, but the feminine range just isn’t there for him. Also, the lack of names for the gods, specifically the elementals is not anything significant, but there is power in names, so it did feel like something was missing on that part. Single God also felt a bit bland, although in real faith there is a God, named God. My hope is that names are revealed later on to give more credence to these gods.
This was such a wonderful read/listen and I recommend this to everyone that loves a great story. If you’re looking for action packed this may not be for you, but I would suggest to at least give this a shot because you might just fall in love with the story being told.
A Drowned Kingdom is one of the best fantasy novels I've ever read. The snarky, smarmy narrative voice stands out as unique and fascinating. The evolution of the protagonist throughout the story provides for an entertaining read. Despite the title giving away a major plot element, the moment it happened still hit hard and shocked me as a reader.
If you're in doubt, give this one a chance. My only caution to you would be that, in typical epic fantasy series style, it ends with a cliffhanger that may make you want to immediately grab the next book. The author has said it will be a seven-book series with one book released per year and has thus far delivered on that promise.
My review of A Drowned Kingdom may resemble other reviews. If you want a saga with detailed world creation, solid writing, and involved characters with hidden layers, this novel is for you. That being said, you will need to deal with delayed gratification as things start out very slowly. (If you need action to start from page one, this novel is not for you.)
The litmus test I use for a story is whether once I’ve begun reading, I wish to finish because I “gotta know”. I was concerned during the first third of the book. I felt bombarded with a Silmarillion-level of backstory description, complete with family lineages and detailed kingdom descriptions. I’m normally a fast reader, but P.L.’s writing style made me slow the heck down due to the volume of material first presented plus some repetition. The first third was, not to put too fine a point on it, a slog. However, I can honestly say that my curiosity picked up halfway through and peaked significantly by the end (my reading pace increased as well). I’ll be acquiring the second book in this series to see what happens because the world P.L. has created is breathtaking and I gotta know!
The maps at the beginning of the book were invaluable to understand the story and had I known there was a character/place list at the end of the book, I would have availed myself to it as well. Mr. Stuart has an extensive vocabulary and uses it to write in an “old” formal style (something a la Fenimore Cooper); he does this to great effect (it takes some getting used to, but there is a purpose to it).
The main character, Orthrun, has flaws that will rub folks with modern sensitivities a bit raw, but again, I believe this was done by design, and I’m willing to wager that Orthrun is in for some consciousness-raising in future volumes.
Determining stars for this book was difficult. The novel was well written and well thought out. There are interesting twists and by the end, I definitely wanted to see the story go farther. I would give the book five stars but the very slow first portion of the book made reading dangerously close to work, so it lost a star there. Even so, the novel transforms into a pretty intense set of plot lines, and I can very comfortably give it 4 stars. – T.C. Schueler, author of 22 Dutch Road
A Drowned Kingdom is the start of an epic saga that focuses on the fall of a great Kingdom and the rise of a new one. It focuses on the journey of Atalanteans whose great Kingdom perishes in a great flood, and it focuses on Othrun’s journey to becoming the Kingmaker of new land. In a way, it reminds me of something I sore related to Tolkein lore. What if the Numenoreans managed to survive and return to Middle Earth? This is somewhat similar in this vein.
Throughout this novel, there are various complexities, alliances, visions and supernatural events that happen. Great characters have been written and to summarise this story would do it a disservice, you have to experience the story by fully immersing into it. Oh, and did I mention the fact that the audiobook is an absolute steal? It adds so much immersion and is so well voice-acted, that listening/reading to both is amazing. Othrun has to deal with many Kingdoms, collaborating and betraying the ones he will hold dear to his heart. It is not a journey for the faint-hearted. The writing style is very traditional, so do note this in mind. It’s a complete package, it’s like an entire RPG game. I’d compare it to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla because there is so much to go through here!
I really enjoyed this book, and it is extremely well written. It’s a great fantasy book, and I think one you really need to go and search and read 🙂
Drowned Kingdom is reminiscent of a tale told centuries ago, its formal language chronicles the progress of Othrun, in his past and present struggles, as though told to his official scribe. A scribe unfamiliar with his homeland. This means that it starts out slowly, building the background and the setting for Othrun’s character, formed from centuries of history. While it may feel superfluous initially, I could see as the book progressed the authors intent and appreciated it more.
This style of writing extends to the listing of formal titles on meetings, much like old arthurian tales. It also allows us a frank and at times uncomfortable view of the inherent biases and prejudices of Othrun as he is open to the reader about his views. As his character develops, we see him start to examine his own prejudices, and I suspect he will have much to reckon with in future books, which links back to that opening world build. Though indirectly, it is a character build. Later. In the book the internal and external conflicts that the MC negotiates have heavy consequences for his world view and balancing belief with survival is a negotiation made precarious with his background.
If you enjoy the idea of reading a fictional mythology, a tale told with care – and there is much attention to detail that I appreciated as the story progressed, then this could be the book for you. While I had read reviews referencing the story as being a mythology, I had not anticipated how completely the author immersed the story in this style of framework.
This is book is one of a 7 book series, setting up the tone with Blood and sweat ! This book has many layers , in strategy. In physiological, inner demons , inner voices and Visions. Who do you trust in a world like this? Trust in me Only In me…… not even you would be the right choice!!!
Family or Enemy ??
Inner dialogue of the second Prince Othrun, it’s a nice touch which we see things, through his eyes! a revolutionary’s inaction of a man a second Prince .
The appearance of an Angel is what I call a angelic consigliere…. as he meets with Othrun …that was a touch of genius!!! Is he Divine or Evil in disguise ? we’ll find out eventually!!
All the makings of a King!!! Say the Angel????? I feel he’s being setup , egoless he is not!!! Political is the game ..trustworthy is the shame!
What if the story of Atlantis was real? How would the people displaced from that nation forge a new path in the world? A Drowned Kingdom explores these plot threads in a story full of political machinations, warring nations, and morally grey perspectives.
This is a book that took me a lot longer to read than I expected it to, but for all the right reasons. The story is told completely from the perspective of Prince Othrun, the second son and least favored heir of the kingdom of Atalantyx, and thus it reads very haughtily at first. When Othrun is introducing the readers to the line of his ancestors who he believes to come from the best genealogy on earth, it reads almost bible-like (think Genesis) which really drives home not only his arrogant attitude, but the religion of his people which comes to play a large role in this story.
Othrun is racist, misogynistic, classist...really all the -ists you can imagine. But this is purposefully done by Stuart to set the reader on a journey of moral questioning along with our protagonist. As this is based on the Atlantis myth, it's not a spoiler to say that the kingdom of Atalantyx is destroyed in a cataclysm that leaves Othrun without a homeland, or a throne to inherit. He must go to foreign lands where deities besides the one he worships hold power, and face a rude awakening about his view of the world.
A Drowned Kingdom is more focused on political alliances and character relationships than action (though the fight scenes we do get are written very well), so go into it ready for a slow-paced intricate story. I loved the way our first person perspective had me questioning the portrayal of those we meet...is this character as vapid and shallow as they appear, or is this simply Othrun's view of them? I also loved the hints of gods directly interfering in humans' lives as we all know by now that's one of my favorite tropes of all time. The descriptions of the world were also beautifully written and vivid.
There were a few scenes I think would have been better to experience first hand rather than in retrospect and a few characters I would have liked to get a more in-depth look at/introduction to, thus the 4 star rating. However, I thoroughly enjoyed my read and the ending is a massive cliff hanger so I'm very much interested to go on to the next installment! (hello June TBR maybe?)
I’m still not one for reviews; that’s never going to change. But I know how important they are to authors so for that reason I’m giving this a shot, so take it for what it’s worth.
A Drowned Kingdom is the debut novel from P.L. Stuart, but I would have never suspected he wasn’t a seasoned author due to the writing alone. Stuart does an amazing job painting a rich world with complex characters in this very compelling fantasy epic! Or is it epic fantasy? Either works well to describe this work. But I can easily see this making future lists of top epic fantasy novels! (Seriously though, or is it fantasy epic?)
There is a real literary classic feel to his words; if H.G. Wells had leaned more towards pure fantasy and not so much the realms of science fiction, this is close to what I would imagine that could have been. That may be a weird comparison, but that is what kept coming to mind as I read, and possibly just because Wells is one of my favorite ‘classic’ writers.
I cannot wait to see what P.L. releases next, and if this debut novel is any indication, whatever it is will be fantastic! I eagerly await the next entry in this saga!
(P.S. I did warn that I'm not great with reviews. Sorry about that.)
TLDR: A Drowned Kingdom by P. L. Stewart wastes no time immersing you in the intricate, carefully crafted world of Atalantyx and its surrounding continents. I chose the audiobook version of this novel and the narrator successfully drew me into this Atlantis-inspired story of political intrigue and familial drama reminiscent of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. I came for the promising premise, and I stayed for the excellent narration and captivating world-building.
First and foremost, the world-building of this novel is truly noteworthy. P.L. has weaved into this story so many different kingdoms, peoples, and regions that it makes my geographically-attuned heart flutter with whimsy. The descriptions and character given to these kingdoms and peoples is another highlight, as each feel distinct and interesting, complete with their own customs, religion, etc.
The narrative itself begins with a chapter set roughly around the end of the first third of the novel, doubling back to explain how our protagonist (Prince Othrun) got to this point in his story. While I was thoroughly engrossed with learning all the intricate details of this fantastic world, I felt that this first third of the novel moved a bit slow for me, with regard to the plot's pacing versus the world building. This is probably just due to my own personal taste, so take it with a grain of salt.
The character development worked well for me. Each major character in the story felt like they had a distinct personality, though I wish some were fleshed out a bit more. (I want to hear more about Glathan and his seafaring. So, so intriguing!)
Past reservations on pacing aside, I really do feel like the novel was paced well. The arcs feel distinct, and Othrun's journey moves methodically forward, with the occasional instance of exciting magic or thrilling battle keeping us company for the ride.
Overall, I really loved A Drowned Kingdom. The amazing world P. L. Stewart introduces, the magic, the subterfuge, and tense battles are all highlights for me and things I'll continue to think about for a while until I eventually pick up the sequel, which I will most definitely be doing. I highly recommend this series to fans of stunning world-building, thrilling, large-scale battle sequences, and mystifying magic. 4.5/5
I was so intrigued by A Drowned Kingdom that I approached the author for a copy. Huge thank you to P.L. Stuart for providing me one in exchange of an honest review!
There’s a lot to like about Stuart’s A Drowned Kingdom. It’s epic fantasy on a grand scale with a richly detailed world packed full of history and culture.
There are three parts to the story, and a prologue. The beginning was a dense start with a fair amount of information, people and places for me to digest, as it establishes the lead character, a history of his home, place in society and his family… etc. There is also several very helpful appendixes and maps- all the extras, that epic fantasy lovers will appreciate.
The writing feels a bit old-fashioned in the narration style but it suits the storyteller feel; which felt a lot like it could have been told to us while sitting around having drinks at a tavern. And our narrator, Othrun, second Prince of the kingdom of Atalantyx, has a great voice. He is insightful and occasionally humorous; as he regales us with his story, peppering it with hints or sometimes just outright telling us things to come (like Stephen king does) always keeping us interested, and reading. It helped a lot that Othrun while maybe not always likeable, he was a very readable character and once I settled in, I found I was hooked wanting to know what happens to him and his people. Things get really interesting once they journey from their lost home of Atlantyx to their new land and we explore more of the magic, cultures, and Othrun gains allies in the new world.
As a young man who has it all, Othrun starts out incredibly arrogant in his views, but you can’t help but like him, even when you want to twist his ear and tell him to quit being such a narrow-minded dolt. He loves his family and friends, and genuinely worries about their well-being. He loves his country, and he stands up for his beliefs (as misguided as some of them are) and tries to find the peaceful solution first, especially when it affects those he loves. One thing I liked about him was that, though, he may still do what he wants, he always listened to others council.
His arrogance in how he sees the rest of the world as heathens etc. is his only real character glitch. Othrun’s goal once they get to their new land, is to make alliances. To conquer and teach the heathens the way of the single God. But as the story progresses, he finds his allies are upstanding worthy men, and his perspective starts to shift. I liked that he showed some growth and willingness to learn about/from others. I also really enjoyed Othrun’s interactions with his cousins, and advisor- especially, Glathan and the old timer (whose name is escaping atm).
The Island kingdom of Atalantyx worship the single God- which to me had a bit of a Christianity feel, and I couldn’t help but think of the bible in places; Moses leading his people to Israel or Genesis with the lineages, and especially Noah…. but to be fair, anytime you throw a large population on a big boat and leave behind your sinking homeland I am probably going to think of Noah (or possibly Evan Almighty, if he builds any of that boat himself).
The magic was just beginning to be explored and seemed to work on a belief/faith system from what I could tell. Lysi’s mage magic worked through the power of the elements of each of the Goddess, but it’s the belief in their power that enables the magic to happen. And of course, Othrun’s faith in the single God works in much the same way.
Slow build, richly detailed world- the only thing keeping me from loving it to pieces, was that for the most part it’s in a told kind of story and I am not as big a fan of that style. I kept wishing to stop and explore the relationships or events, rather than be told about them. We did have more hands-on type story towards the end but as it is all from Othrun pov it’s still limited that way.
I say this in almost every book review I write, but this could have been quite a bit shorter. It was a little wordy in places, I found myself skimming a bit through the repetitive and unneeded information (like the lineages). I also have a preference for ‘more is said with less’ word choices these days, so take this complaint as you will.
Dear Othrun, Your story captivated me from the first few pages. I was rooting for you, cursing you, and amazed by you. I have to be honest, though. Your story isn’t something I normally read, but I am grateful you pulled me out of my comfort zone. You battled with great gumption and bravery, but allowed me to see your doubts and insecurities. I’m sorry your dad and brother were so callous and uncaring. I’m not sorry for what happened to them. Your journey is filled with excellent stories, exciting battles and powerful language. I am happy I took the time to lose myself, lazily turning the pages to the end.
A Drowned Kingdom is a book that had been on my radar for a while and it was great to have a chance to pick it up. I’m glad that I did as overall I really enjoyed this book. There were a few bits that left me a little conflicted, and I will admit that it took me a couple of attempts to get into the book.
It was more than worth it though.
One such example of things that left me a little conflicted is the prose. On one hand, I love Stuart’s prose, and I loved how it played into the feeling of a story being relayed to us, treading that line between poetry and prose in places, and definitely conjuring the feeling of an oral rendition. But, there was also a formality to the prose – which for the most part played into Othrun’s character and the story very well, and considering this book very much dipped its toes into multiple genres including literary fantasy is fitting, but there are places where the formality feels a bit too much, especially with the dialogue and I would find myself skimming it. This does also impact the pacing a little, and this very much felt like a book of parts – and the first part does take a while to get into before the action and dialogue really kick in. However, while it was certainly slower, that first part was also one of my favourites because of the worldbuilding that occurred there.
That leads to the one aspect of the book that I am not conflicted about, and that is the worldbuilding – which was absolutely fantastic. Also – as you can expect from me – I love that there were maps! The worldbuilding is fascinating, on one hand, you have a complex, richly realised world of multiple civilisations and people, and the cultural and religious differences, and differing worldviews that come with that. It was the worldbuilding that sold me on A Drowned Kingdom, but I will say that this is where the pacing slowed considerably, and for people who are less invested in the worldbuilding than the action and plot, this may be a little too much – because there was a quite a bit of information and almost/and outright telling, which worked with how this book is, but might not be for everyone.
However, where the worldbuilding really worked for me and added a whole other dimension to A Drowned Kingdom, is that it felt like the world almost becomes a character – and almost an antagonist to Othrun, as all those different viewpoints and aspects come into conflict with his worldview. In some ways, it feels like one man against the world but flipped – because Othrun with his idea of the ‘one truth’ and how the world should be, and how he can and will shape it, as a result, is the threat here. We get so see that belief chipped and flaked throughout this book and the potential for growth – if he can adapt to the fact that the status quo is nothing like he believed, is phenomenal and I can’t wait to see what direction Stuart takes that in.
In some ways this was more of a character study than anything, as we spend so much time with Othrun, seeing how he came to be shaped into the man he is, and how that in turn fuels and shapes his interactions with others. The first person POV also means that our view of the world and the other characters are very much coloured by his thoughts and feelings – this is always going to be the case with this kind of POV, but it feels very strong here because Othrun is incredibly opinionated (bigoted). It must be said that Othrun is not a good man, or particularly a likeable character (although there were some moments right at the beginning in particular where I was almost convinced otherwise), but he makes for an incredibly compelling character, who to some extent is both protagonist and antagonist to himself. It’s wonderful seeing in action the impact of his privileged upbringing, and the views of those around him, impacted on his own beliefs and worldviews and how that played out throughout the book as he comes up against evidence that his views – his truth – are not the only way, and it just so well done, that even if you dislike him or worse, and want to shake some sense into him, you need to see where his journey goes.
This is a slow burn of a book, it takes its time to establish the worldbuilding and especially the weight of the history on the world, and the character. So, if you’re looking for fast-paced action, this may not be the book for you. However, if like me you love intricately crafted worldbuilding then boy is A Drowned Kingdom the book for you, and I for one am looking forward to seeing where Stuart takes it in the next book.
A Drowned Kingdom is a story that follows Othrun, second prince of Atalantyx. This is a book filled with detailed world building, interesting characters, rich prose, great battle scenes, and it touches on some issues that are very relevant today.
The world building in this one shines. Between the histories of ancient cities, genelogies, multiple cultures and religion, this world is incredibly well fleshed out. The more I read, the more immersed I became into this world.
The writing felt quite unique to me. It had an old fashioned feel, but once I got used to it, it read smooth and easily. I felt that the rich writing style felt the slow burn of the story and it is a style that is rarely seen in modern fantasy.
Othrun as a character was quite fun to read. I found myself struggling to know whether I should be cheering for him or wishing for his demise. He is a flawed character. Egotistical, self centered, and while he is often times naive, he is not a bad man. Throughout the book, I found myself strongly disliking him, but there would always be a scene where I found myself cheering for him.
This is not just a fantasy book where a prince loses his homeland and goes on a journey to find a new one. Stuart does not shy away from highlighting issues. Cultural differences, various races, religions, and traditions all challenge the main character's status quo in a very natural way.
This was a slow story, and often times, I did find some of it to be a slog to get through. Some trimming and editing could have cut the info dumping down.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to seeing where the story goes.
A Drowned Kingdom is written entirely from the perspective of Othrun, Second Prince of the island paradise, Atalantyx, son of King Atalan, The Falcon. Over the course of the first part of the novel Othrun shows himself to be a vain, snobbish bigot. A flawed, yet devout character, who we hope can change during the course of the novel.
Due to the first person perspective we only get to see the other characters through Othrun’s opinionated eyes, so it is difficult to form our own opinions of them. His dislike for his brother colours our feelings towards him; and Erthal’s wife, Dira, is only described in terms of her ability to seduce Erthal, persuade him to become pagan and in Othrun’s eyes bring about the ruin of the island.
The world building in this debut novel is extremely descriptive and very well done. It is clear from his descriptions of the land that Prince Othrun loves his kingdom dearly and misses it terribly when forced to be away. He describes everything in great detail, right down to the seasons and animals, weather and even the smells of his beloved country. The sovereign city of Atalantyx is the Circle City, which, unbeknownst to the majority of its citizens, is built around a dormant volcano.
There is a lot of historical detail given in terms of the line of succession and the courtly traditions, such as that of marrying one’s cousin in order to keep the bloodlines pure. The politics of the kingdom are also carefully explained to us by Othrun, in such a clever way that it kept me engaged through what potentially could have been less interesting sections of the story for me.
At the beginning of the main story (there is a prologue), Othrun and his older brother, First Prince Erthal have been sent by their father across the ocean to Norsoon on the continent of Acremia, hoping to plan a strategy for their father to overthrow the kings of the lands of Acremia. Instead Erthal is tricked into falling in love with, and promising to marry the pagan princess Dira in order that she not be sacrificed by her people. This episode shows us how much Othrun hates the heathens who do not worship his Single God. He has never met these foreigners before and does not understand their customs but despises them and longs only to be a part of his father’s plans to overthrow their kings and rule the continent of Acremia.
When Erthal falls in love with the pagan princess, Dira, bigotted Othrun is sickened to the core of his being and drives an immovable wedge between himself and his brother. His brother’s adoption of heathen practices, such as human sacrifice after marrying Dira lead Othrun and his allies to try and overthrow King Atalan and Erthal, his successor. Their failure leads to their banishment from the kingdom and ultimately saves their lives.
An angel appears to Othrun telling him he and his followers must leave the next day and also tells Othrun his father, the king, was actually never his biological father, but rather that the angel had visited his mother on behalf of the Single God and was his true father. Could this be the first sign of madness in Othrun? He himself is not entirely sure. Othrun is someone who certainly has a very high opinion of himself, despite being treated like a nobody by both King Atalan and First Prince Erthal throughout his life!
“He told me I was God’s chosen one. He told me that God directed him to create me, because with Anchali blood in me, I could be greater than other men. He told me that I would have the greatness to conquer all heathens and bring them under one devout king.”
Thanks to the angel’s warning Othrun and 1800 other Atalanteans set sail the following morning for Eltnia. Much to their horror, as they sail away they witness the eruption of Mount Atalante, followed by an earthquake which splits the island in two, and a tidal wave causing the entire island to sink and everyone upon it to perish.
Othrun is convinced this was an act of his God - destroying the idol worship which had begun to take over the island and saving the 1800 people who worshipped Him. On they go, carried by the tidal wave's aftermath towards Eltnia. Othrun intends to gradually take over the continent and sees the heathens living there as little better than animals. In his mind he is:
“The great Othrun, come to conquer”
On the journey, Othrun sees the angel again and has a conversation regarding how he should proceed since his ally, King Wely is being joined in battle by Hor the Horrific. The angel counsels him to educate the heathens in the way of ‘Combat of Champions’, which he does, and manages to kill the giant Hor and make an invaluable alliance with both Hor’s son King Hert and King Wely. Wely grants Othrun a new kingdom, The Golden Valley, to rule over in exchange for his aid in battle.
On the way to this land the three kings and their armies must overcome temptation from a beautiful mage, political intrigue and double crossing, a battle against an enormous army, a journey through labyrinthine caves, a possibly possessed sword, questioning of religious beliefs and unfriendly weather.
Thankfully all of this adversity and the trustworthy allies he finds in Wely and Hert help Othrun’s character to become less flawed. He develops an understanding and respect for the people he considered heathens and even begins to believe in their elemental magic.
The three kings plan their route hoping to avoid High King Ina’s Nyrimian army on the way to Othrun’s new kingdom. The prose in this section was so well written that even in the parts which had fairly long conversations about how best to grant Othrun a kingdom and the three kings planning their route through the mountains, which could have been somewhat dry, I found my interest was held.
The book ends on something of a cliffhanger and I am looking forward to finding out what happens to the three allied kings and how Othrun and the remaining Atalanteans fare as they try and settle in a new country with different beliefs and customs.
P.L. Stuart has a mastery with words that isn't often seen any more. A Drowned Kingdom was a super rich and dare I say "fun" read. I loved the detailed and varied world building... But maybe more so I loved that through the story, from CHAPTER ONE even... This book has you questioning your own views on tropes. Who is at fault in a rebellion? What would you do for love... Or family? The story is absolutely a slow burn.. but fans of epic fantasy with family intrigue and politics will be right at home.
Within the first few pages of this story, PL Stuart had my attention. This book starts with such a sense of gravitas that I was immediately drawn into the main character’s thoughts, making the opening pages feel almost like a soliloquy as Othrun, Second Prince, pulls us into his mind. This was fascinating as from the outset, you’re not discovering Othrun’s world as it is - you’re discovering Othrun’s world the way that he sees it.
Othrun’s story splits into three parts and, to be honest, the first part was my favourite. A Drowned Kingdom is a book so hard to define but so cleverly executed. As I was drawn deeper into Othrun’s character, his narration turned from saga to sonnet to sermon at various points, depending on what he was doing or experiencing at the time.
Stuart plays with repetition, sentence structures, and phrasing, and his writing is, at times, more like poetry than prose. The first few chapters of the book have very little dialogue, but it still feels like someone is speaking to you. And do you know what? A lot of it is rather beautiful.
'I wept because no one lived that might cut off my head anymore.'
What is even more impressive is that Othrun is a totally detestable character. As previous reviews have mentioned, this is not a nice guy. After a life of privilege in the royal family, Othrun's views are about as toxic as they come. He’s a misogynist, sexist, racist, classist zealot bordering on fundamentalism.
It is difficult to present a character of this nature in the right way – and even more difficult to combine such an abhorrent worldview with such eloquent and beautiful prose. Here is where PL Stuart shows his intelligence and ability as a writer. Othrun, though deeply unpleasant, is presented as a guy with a superiority complex, delusions of his self-importance, and a dangerous naivety about the world and people around him.
He has lived in a bubble of opulence, prince of his tiny world, and quite frankly, at times feels almost like a brain-washed fanatic. What I really loved was the sense of creeping corruption as Othrun became increasingly more powerful and more fanatical.
‘Grandfather added that Father should take his time wanting the responsibility of kingship, and he, Grandfather would accordingly take his time dying,’
I could wax lyrical about this book for hours; even now my thoughts about it are running wild. Compelling, difficult, clever, dark – it is certainly rare for me to pick up and finish anything that serves such a gamut of emotions and reactions. I will say that for anyone looking for a lighter read, this is anything but that. Woven into Othrun’s interpretations of the world around him is some heavy subject matter. What impressed me was the sensitivity with which PL Stuart tackles these subjects while having the reader experience them through the eyes of someone so utterly insensitive.
‘With funerals and baptisms for ladies and infants of royal lineage, one often followed the other. The first question asked when a child of the blood was born was not, “what shall it be named?” It was not “how much does it weigh?”Rather, it was “does the mother live?”
Truthfully, I don’t think that this book will be for everyone. Female readers, in particular, may struggle. It reads like a tribute to old-school fantasy epics, so don’t expect any empowering female representation. The women in Othrun’s world are reduced to the roles of whores or Madonna’s, and in either case, are little more than walking uteri. That being said I wish to make it abundantly clear that this book never felt offensive to me as a woman. Rather, Stuart makes it clear that Othrun and the society around him devalue, belittle, and vilify women (and many others) through bigotry and ignorance.
On the whole, I found this to be, more than anything, a fascinating character study. I did find that towards the middle I was skimming parts of the story – this is heavy prose and the addition of multiple new characters in the latter third of the book did make my head spin a little. Is it an enjoyable read? I honestly don’t know how to answer that question. All I can say is that I didn’t want to stop reading – I had to dig deeper. I wanted to find something redeemable about Othrun, or for him to get his comeuppance.
I would give this story a 4-star rating based on Stuart’s approach, voice, skill, and intricacy. There were elements of the prose I felt worthy of a 5-star rating. But the introduction of too many characters at once in the final third and some of the story being a little overwrought did detract from the journey a little for me. That being said, in the first two sections the secondary characters were well crafted, likeable and reliable. The world building is vast, artful and extensive and reflects the overall tone of the writing – ambitious and uncompromising.
I’ll certainly be picking up PL Stuart’s next book, and look forward to seeing the future of Othrun and his people unfolding.
Finished this excellent book by @plstuartwrites If you like complex, character-driven high fantasy, this is for you. Travel, high magic, great fight scenes and an arrogant, smug, self-righteous prig of a protagonist who nonetheless grows and grows; this is great stuff!