The Golden Dynasty
By: Kristen Ashley
2 “Over the Rainbow” Stars
Genre: Fantasy; GoT fan-fiction
Price: $3.99 for Kindle
Wine in my Mug: Linganore Blackberry
Recommendation: Not for everyone.
When this book was recommended to me I thanked a book club friend and then didn’t follow up on it. The cover looked so bootleg I was like:
There was so many other books that I wanted to read, this one was forgotten for awhile. A part of me wishes it stayed that way. Last night I found myself in a particular mood, saw this book still waiting on my Kindle and looked up the description before reading it. Once I read it I was immediately interested in it despite the uninspiring cover, hoping to relive my enjoyment of my favorite GoT (Game of Thrones) story arc. Which one is that? Do you even have to ask? It is the story of Khal Drogo and Daenerys.
The Golden Dynasty takes those two characters and reinterprets them in a slightly different way. The h, looks similar to Daenerys but that is where the similarities end for her. It is told in her POV and it is one of the most irritating narratives I have had the displeasure of reading. She was annoying. The author, in an effort to world build, was EXHAUSTIVE in her details of the most trivial of things, I found myself skimming the pages most of the time. Do I really need to read two pages of details about what the color and texture cloth made up her clothing? No. No I don’t. It wouldn’t have been as bad if this happened once. It happens all throughout the book, and if I had to read another sentence of the h calling her group of friends her “girls”, I was sure to throw up my blackberry wine all over my Daryl Dixon T-shirt.
I would have rated this book a lot higher if she would have just wrote it in the third person. First person is only good if the character is interesting, or has a entertaining inner thought process. Circe (the h), is one of those kinds people who seems to talk exhaustively just to hear herself talk, and I found it hard to believe that anyone would have wanted to be one of her “girls” let alone claim her as their significant other.
The Golden Dynasty starts us off as Circe (great name btw) as she is running in the woods. She is being chased through the forest by a man on horseback and is covered in blood. She doesn’t know where she is or how she got there, just an hour earlier she was sleeping in her bedroom in Seattle only to wake up in a sort of corral with dozens of other ladies. She isn’t even wearing what she wore to bed, instead she is wearing a wispy silk dress, a thick collar-like necklace, and sandals. Even though she wakes up in a foreign land, wearing foreign clothes, and hearing foreign languages, she still makes time to internally complement the other women’s hair styles and apparel.
She watches as people come up to the corral to stare at her and the other women inside the fence like they are a new exhibit at the zoo. She then starts to panic and pinches herself as if to awaken from a nightmare (Does that really work?). She walks around the pen to inspect the area and she comes across a woman who speaks English. When the girl says she is from Hawkvale, Circe realizes she isn’t even in America. She finds out that they are in a place named Korwahk and have been chosen to participate in an event called the “Wife Hunt”.
This is a tradition where selected women from all over are paraded in front of the Horde warriors and then made to run away from the camp. The warriors then chase after them, selects one to be his wife and consummates the joining on the spot. Most of the women in the corral are natives and are excited about being chosen as a warrior’s bride but there are a few in the mix like Narinda and Circe, who have been kidnapped because of their beauty. She is warned by the girl, Narinda, to hide her blonde hair. It is an unusual color among the people in this land and Narinda warns that it may attract the Dax. The Dax is the king of the warriors, and though he never participates in the hunt, he has an eye for rare treasures, and the last thing Circe should do is to catch his eye.
She is given some more advice and a quick lesson about Korwahk customs and then they are paraded out onto an avenue lined with painted muscled warriors.
Following Narinda’s advice, she hides among the other ladies. She has no desire to catch anyone’s eye and plans to run and hide the moment they are set loose. They get up to the throne of the Dax, where she sees him for the first time. He is much larger and more intimidating than the other warriors, and she moves with the crowd as they quickly pass him by. Her plan seems to have worked effectively until she does something stupid. She looks back and catches his eye.
They are then released and she takes off. Her plans of evading the warriors fall flat when she is immediately captured by a warrior. Another warrior kills the one who claimed her, the blood spraying all over her, and that one chains himself to her necklace. He goes to “reel her in” by the chain when another warrior rides up on a horse and severs the chain with his sword. It is the Dax and he begins to fight the warrior to claim her himself and she takes off. She doesn’t get very far when the Dax catches up to her and then claims her.
I’m not going to beat about the bush. He rapes her. It wasn’t consensual, and she tried to fight him the whole time. She is thoroughly traumatized throughout the whole thing and it is very painful to read. This is something that used to happen pretty frequently in the past to women. While they may not have been raped in a rocky wasteland like in this book, many women have had to marry men that they did not want to and had to have sex with them despite their wishes. It was a woman’s curse back then to be treated less than a person and more like property, and had little to no rights of even her own body. I am very glad I have been born in the era I am living in now, not only because of Netflix and air conditioning, but also because I had the opportunity to choose for myself who I wanted to spend the rest of my life and share my body with.
The rest of the book goes on with how she learns to accept her place as his bride and her life with the Korwahk. Some of it was reminiscent of Drogo and Daenerys, while other parts were just silly. It made me want to re watch GoT Season 1 all over again to relive their tragic tale. They were a great couple and I could see why another author wanted to recapture that magic.
This would have been one of those books I would have like to read again when I needed a good barbarian fix, but the POV narration killed it for me. That combined with some really just plain stupid moments, made me damn near sprain my eyeballs.
If you can get over those obstacles (I did by skimming A LOT, and with the use of alcohol) the actual meat of the story was pretty good. I saw that this is actually part of a series after I read it but I have about ZERO interest in any of the others. I’m going to be honest, if it wasn’t for the similarities to GoT this one would have been DNF’d.