A faraway kingdom.
A beautiful princess.
A courageous hero.
A ruthless villain.
An impossible choice.
Eliana and Rinan are in love. However, she is destined to become queen of Bariwon, obligated to marry the victor of a competition called the Shoginoc, while Rinan, her royal guardian, is forbidden to marry. Normally they would renounce their titles to be together, but these are not normal times. Abrecan, the malevolent governor of Erd, is determined to win the Shoginoc, thereby placing his easily manipulated son Daimh on Bariwon's throne. Can Eliana and Rinan find a way to be together without jeopardizing the peace they are so desperately trying to protect?I'm not ashamed to say that I am most ardently a person who judges books by their covers. I can't help it, and, honestly, I should probably stop. I've come across quite a lot of books with utterly gorgeous, eye-catching covers that completely disappoint, and I've read many books with average, mediocre, and even terrible covers that are magnificent. The Hidden Sun didn't have a terrible cover, but it didn't have one that made me sigh, either, and I will admit I read it mostly because I had to. I am so, so pleased to say that I am a terrible person who should quit judging books by their covers. The Hidden Sun is a hidden gem and should have sparklers that go off every time someone opens its cover.
There are so many things I loved about the book, but I rather like to get any negatives out of the way first. My only real complaint lies in the dialogue. There were several times it felt stilted and unnatural, like a character was talking just to clarify what was going on, rather than because they had something to say. Slightly picky, I know, but it bothered me, and I don't want to JUST gush. :)
On to the fun! I have a ton of positive things that jump out, but I'll only be able to highlight a few, since I'm not trying to write an essay... First, the plot. Oh, the plot the plot the plot. I wanted to die. There were lots of twists and turns, and sudden deaths (which I always enjoy!), and things just kept happening that I didn't expect. I didn't expect the book to expand over two generations, which I loved. The problems going on in Bariwon are not problems that can be solved in a short time, and I so appreciate that Mr. Morgan didn't force an improbable happy ending or a cliffhanger to make the reader impatient for a second book.
And the characters! Our villain, Abrecan, is just purely and insanely evil and power hungry. You will love to hate him. Eliana and Rinan are utterly adorable, but I especially loved Rayne. A girl can't help but swoon over such a guy. He stands up for the innocent and endangered, helps old women, and can fight to boot. Governor Nash was a fun character to read, always with a quip flouncing authority and there was not enough of him.
The Hidden Sun is a classic tale of good and evil. There is no magic afoot or dragons smoldering, just good ole human nature. This is the first book in a trilogy, with the second novel, The Waxing Moon, coming out next year.
Risk a paper cut? To repeat my stupid pun earlier (y'all should know by now that I'm only good for one terrible pun a review!), The Hidden Sun is a hidden revelation; a chivalric novel well worth your time and any accidental blood.
To buy The Hidden Sun: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
For more information on the book and the author: J. Lloyd Morgan's website and blog.
Also, a huge thanks to J. Lloyd Morgan for contacting me for his blog tour and to Walnut Springs Press for a review copy of the book; you are all wonderful!