Mercy's Prince was the first novel I've read on Kindle. Previously I'd stuck to novellas and short stories, because for reasons I can't fathom, I read and process a lot slower when I'm reading on electronics. It's a sad fact of my life.
I know what you're over there thinking, but I have to explain what it means when I say I loved this book so much it was killing me that I couldn't go through it faster.
Mercy's Prince by Katy Huth Jones is told from the POV of Mercy(the FMC), Valerian(MMC), and Caelas(antagonist).
The story starts off with a gripping battle where Prince Valerian watches his brother, Waryn, be murdered by one of the monsters of the Horde. I'm watching the events unfold and Valerian is stuck there in shock, unable to react. I see how this is going to go, and then the crown prince is dead, because Valerian isn't prepared mentally for battle.
Immediately I felt terrible for Valerian. The guy has to live with this for the rest of his life!!! Knowing he could've saved his brother, but didn't because he was frozen. Ugh! I couldn't do it.
Now Valerian's the new crown prince, and he's not trained for the role, and gosh darn it, the guy is like "Me no want!" Caelas, Waryn's best friend, is furious about it. And essentially no one is happy the quiet, peaceful Valerian is going to someday rule.
Mercy is a young woman living in the secluded village of the Brethren(people who've sworn to never kill). Her father hasn't been the same since her mother's death, and Mercy has taken the role of parenting over her little brother, Raphael. She's also engaged to the village leader, Gabriel, who's the age of her father.
What makes the whole impending marriage even creepier, is the fact that Gabriel is a Seer and can read minds just by having eye contact with a person. What was really done well is that I jumped to conclusions and had preconceived notions about people, and then I had a good lesson in not judging people before I know them.
A lot of the story's appeal to me was that the author took the time to write people, meaning she didn't care how much page time someone had, she made sure they stood out. And she made sure they had motives, hopes, dreams, fears, and that there were consequences when things happened.
Mercy's village is tested when the men are called to war and they decline because of their oath of peace. As a result they're all hauled away to the Keep and locked up for a time. Despite the wooden wall around the village, the women are vulnerable in the simple fact that they've lost half their workforce and all of the men's duties now fall to them. As the fiancee to Gabriel(the village leader), Mercy is looked to for leadership.
The king decides that Valerian should choose the punishment for the Brethren men and Valerian is torn. On one hand, the law says they should be killed for refusing to fight in time of war, and on the other it seems extreme. He writes up the declaration he "should" make, sentencing them to death, but after some thinking he strikes on an idea that should satisfy the spirit of the law without killing.
BUT HE LEAVES THE FIRST PAPER ON HIS DESK!!! *headdesk* There's no WAY that's not coming back to bite him. The person screaming at fictional characters, yeah, that's me.
Don't conserve paper!!! BURN IT! Shred it!! Argh! Blood pressure rising.
So Valerian gets sent on his first mission as crown prince. While he's on this trip--checking in with all of the garrisons--Caelas is plotting and planning. He's decided to take matters into his own hands and show himself as so much better than Valerian that the king will decide to make him the heir instead.
Caelas goes sneaking through Valerian's things and yep . . . I KNEW IT!!!
That so came back to bite Valerian. Caelas now has the perfect way to ruin Valerian's life. I won't go into details, but Mercy goes out for an early morning walk--needing a break from the heavy emotions that the returning men have caused--and it's the last moment she has of her old life.
Everything changes that day and I won't deny it, I had tears running down my face the whole chapter. Darn authors who make me cry! Their books should come with a free box of tissues.
Mercy and Valerian meet and travel together. Caelas though, that guy just doesn't quit!! He's on a mission! No longer satisfied with just stealing Valerian's throne and ruining his reputation, he's decided that Valerian just needs to be . . . eliminated.
It's so hard to hit on all of the points that make this novel amazing. There's so much packed into it, that it'd require a REALLY long post to cover everything. I'm going to narrow it down to a few points.
1. Characters - I can't express how well done the characters were. I'll just focus on the villain for this. Caelas had a lot of human qualities to explain his actions, and though it didn't make me feel for him, it wasn't like he was just evil for the sake of evil. The guy lost his best friend, his position of power, and now someone he's always despised will one day be his king. He's got motive, and that's good. And he's also nasty. His thoughts show you that what he treasures is cruelty, ruling with an iron fist, and dominance.
It made everything more real by having people go through events and not be unaffected by them. Prison changed some and not others, death effects everyone different, trials break some and make others, and lots of other situations.
3. Plot - Besides the slow-brewing romance, Mercy's Prince revolves around Valerian and Mercy's journey of the heart. They're discovering themselves, their newfound gifts, the extreme changes in their lives, and stepping up to accept new roles. There's also the massive Horde that threatens the kingdom. Always lurking in the corner is the knowledge that these monsters are deadly, they've suddenly all but vanished, and you don't really want to relax and hope it's because they died off or moved on, because what if they haven't!!!
In addition there's lots of fun elements. Dragons of all shapes and sizes. Some smarter than others, some dangerous, some peaceful.
And Kieran, the Scottish inspired squire who's loyal, funny, and loves Highland dancing! There's even a world-appropriate version of the sword dance!
I gave Mercy's Prince five stars and already have book 2 sitting on my dresser. Though book 1 wrapped up nicely in a way that you could stop if you wanted, it's a world and characters I know I want more of. Katy Huth Jones clearly poured her heart into this story and it shows.