Kaitlyn Sage Patterson and I were both on the Debutante Ball last year, when her first book, The Diminished, and my first memoir, Girlish both debuted the same month. I fell in love with her gorgoeus prose and engaging characters in The Diminshed, and am so excited that the second book in the duology is joining it on the bookshelves! A word about the physical books themselves--they are straight up gorgeous. Definitely worth getting in paper versus ebook, not that I don't love ebooks in general.
Since the founding of the Empire, Alskad has been ruled by the singleborn…but the new heir to the throne carries a secret that will change everything
When an assassin’s bullet takes the life of Queen Runa and allows an impostor to steal the throne, Bo Trousillion is forced to flee the empire that is his birthright. With few choices left and burdened with a secret that could disinherit him, Bo pursues an alliance with Noriava, the Queen of Denor, but the devious royal ensnares him in a trap and demands a huge price for her aid.
To the south, Vi Abernathy—Bo’s secret twin—joins a ragtag army of resistance fighters, determined to free Alskad and the colony of Ilor from the control of the corrupt temple and its leaders. But as Vi discovers a strength she never knew she had and prepares to rejoin her brother in Alskad, news of the coup and Bo’s narrow escape arrive in Ilor.
Determined to rescue Bo, Vi sails to Denor with the rebels at her side and a plan to outwit Queen Noriava, knowing there’s only one way she and Bo will be able to save the Alskad Empire—together.
I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of The Exalted, Kaitlyn Sage Patterson’s sequel to The Diminished. It's filled with the same lush details and gorgeous writing as The Diminished, and I loved the further character development of side characters. Once again, Patterson has peopled her world with queer and straight characters, and I love, love, love how it's no big issue. It's just the way the world is. The Exalted is faster paced than book one and moves swiftly back and forth between the twin main characters, Vi and Bo. The twin relationship allows both male and female leads to be equally strong, regardless of their upbringings, desire to rule, or gender. Their connection makes it impossible for one to rise above the other.
This book is all about balances and contradictions, with really well-fleshed out complicated characters. Patterson doesn't give us all good or all evil, but allows bad people to sometimes do good things, which is much more realistic and convoluted. Battles are fought, but the protagonists have to bear the weight of the consequences on their souls—unlike so many stories where the end justifies the means. There are no guarantees of happy endings for any of these characters, and that tension kept me on the edge. (Yes, I did cry. I won't tell you where.)
It's an interesting discussion on religion, government, and society—blind faith and corruption. I loved the ending and wish I could go on about it here but don't want to spoil it.
Having read The Diminished first, I'm not sure how easily this would stand alone to new reader—I can't unlearn the first book, so I'm not a good judge of that, but since I loved The Diminished so much, I would advise a new reader to Patterson's work to start at the beginning. It's truly an epic journey. Curious about The Diminished? Read my review on The Debutante Ball.
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