The Golden Boys: A Review of The Crown’s Dog by Elise Kova

Title: The Crown’s Dog (Golden Guard #1)
Author: Elise Kova
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Publication Date: November 22nd, 2016
Kindle: 292 Pages
Source: Personal Purchase

A coastal summer is turned upside down by a violent murder, and a quest for lost pirate treasure turns into a hunt for the killer.

Jax Wendyll is the crown’s dog. As punishment for the unspeakable crimes that tourment him to this day, his life has been conscripted to the Empire Solaris. However, in an Empire afflicted by peace, his duties are relegated to unquestioningly aiding the antics of the youngest prince, Baldair.

Erion Le’Dan, a nobleman’s son, expects a quiet summer visit to the Imperial Palace, his only agenda to visit with his unlikely friends. But Jax’s discovery the legendary pirate Adela Lagmir’s old workroom inspires a hunt for her long lost treasure.

The pursuit of Adela’s truth takes the three men to the Imperial summer manor, built along the old pirate mainstays. When Adela’s trident is branded into a murdered servant, Prince Baldair’s summer amusement of treasure-hunting becomes a hunt to find the killer. But, as mysteries compound, the ghosts of Jax’s past may not be the only things haunting them.

“Next you’re going to tell me that you want to go find this long lost treasure.”

Baldair grinned like a fool.

I am late to the party with The Crown’s Dog. In fact, I didn’t even know it had been released until after I ordered my copy of Alchemists of Loom last month and Amazon suggested I also purchase The Crown’s Dog. So, of course, I did just that. How could I turn down an opportunity to return to the world of Air Awakens with Baldair at my side? My biggest complaint about Crystal Crowned was the distinct lack of the Heartbreaker Prince.

If you are unfamiliar with Air Awakens, it is a fast-paced fantasy series set in a world similar to that of Avatar the Last Airbender. Kova makes sure that each book is packed full of action, romance, and suspense. But as this review is not about that series, I will refrain from discussing it in too much detail. That said, throughout the series you meet Prince Baldair Solaris, the spare heir, and his personal retinue, known as The Golden Guard. The Crown’s Dog is the first in a prequel series that tells the story of how The Guard was formed.

With a title like The Crown’s Dog, I was assuming the book would tell Jax Wendyll’s origin story. That story would have interested me a great deal. However, that was not the story Kova told. Instead we got a tale of pirate’s curses, murder, and deception. It was not at all what I had planned for, but it was exactly what I wanted.

The story is told from two perspectives, that of Jax Wendyll, a fallen Lord of the West who has been conscripted into service of the crown, and Erion Le’Dan, the nobelman’s son who saved his life. Both men serve Prince Baldair Solaris as personal guards and companions. The swap in perspective is, as always, extremely well done and while Baldair does not have PoV chapters, his character development does not fall behind his partners in crime. In fact, watching the group develop together is one of the delights of this novel. This is bromance at its finest.

I was also quite surprised at the amount of world building in this novel. I assumed that since it took place in the same world as Air Awakens that we would be left with the information that we had previously gathered. Thankfully, Kova took this as an opportunity to show us corners of her world that we had yet to visit and even gifted us with lovely maps in the front of the novel. Believe me when I say that you will love Oparium just as much if not more than Solarin.

Reading The Crown’s Dog was like reuniting with an old friend. It took me back to a world I love and made me fall in love with some of my favorite characters all over again. My only complaint is that I was expecting the book to be a bit more Jax-centric than it was. That said, He still got some marvelous development alongside his golden compatriots. Now, if Elise Kova were to decide to write his origin story after all, well… I would certainly read that too.

While this is the beginning of a prequel series and the events of this novel take place before the events of Air Awakens, I would recommend reading this after the original series. There are no spoilers and you can certainly read this series first, but I feel like you will have a better grasp of the world and how the characters relate to it and each other if you read them in order of publication.

I highly recommend this book for fans of the Air Awakens series, as well as to readers who enjoy fast paced romance-light fantasy with an emphasis on friendship. Also, if you love pirates, I suggest giving this one a go.

- The Butcher (1)