Monday, August 29, 2011

Review of "Imperial Hostage" by Phil Cantrill

Buy Your Copy HERE!
Phil Cantrill's debut novel mixes the magic of ancient Greece with an imaginative fantasy world. I read this book as part of an online book club, and I'm so glad this one was chosen. It follows the life of Prince Erechtheus (Erech) from young boy to young man. Erech begins the book as a "hostage"--sent from his home province to appease the Empire.  He ends up in the clutches of Al-Jinn, high priest of the Temple of Bel. After an old prophetess proclaims that Erech will lead to Al-Jinn's demise, 12-year-old Erech suffers unspeakable abuse. He is rescued at the last minute from ritualistic sacrifice by Kul-Kan, high priest of the Temple of One.

From the relative safety of the Temple of One, Erech finds some life-long friends, though he is still haunted by his experience at the Temple of Bel. These friendships help him overcome and face his anger and fear. His training with Myrine, heir to the Amazon throne, also helps him survive as he faces one after another assassination attempts, fueled by Al-Jinn's obsession to be rid of him.

As the years pass, Erech learns who he can trust and who he cannot. I found his relationships compelling and poignant, especially his romance with Myrine and the strong bond with his friend Herakles. He even has some special animal friends who I hope we see in the next book.

In my opinion, the characters and their relationships were the strong suit here. They were so well developed, that by the end, I felt like they were "old friends", as Herakles would say. Though it's a cast of many characters, Mr. Cantrill really brought them to life and gave them such unique qualities, that I didn't feel overwhelmed at all.

He writes in a third person distant POV, and at first, I found it a little hard to get used to. It didn't take long, though, before the "narrator" style became a smooth reading experience. There was no constant head-hopping or omniscience; it read like a very close commentator as the events played out.

If I had anything to nit-pick, it would be that by the end of the constant assassination attempts, they had a Coyote and Roadrunner feel to them. In the back of your mind, you start to feel sorry for the coyote (Al-Jinn), because he can't catch a bird (Erech) no matter how hard he tries. This was certainly NOT a major issue, however, and since this is only part one, I'm sure we haven't seen the end of Al-Jinn. The ending itself ensures that, but I'll leave it to you to discover why!

Imperial Hostage is the first in a series called The Destruction Series. The book and its plot are appropriate for young adults and beyond. Grab your own copy today!


  1. Good informative review Mysti - thanks!

  2. Thanks! Yours will be next, if I can ever get my chores done today :)


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