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Prince Telmé Guldbrandsen has been groomed since childhood to become a Prince of the Blood and Commander of the Legion. He will be the youngest person to ever take the Blooding—if he can behave long enough to prove he can be trusted with the responsibility. But behaving is difficult when he is constantly forced to endure Korin: heir to the Reach of the House and the Temple of the Sacred Three, and the snotty brat Telmé is expected to someday marry.
Then the unthinkable happens, leaving Castle Guldbrandsen—and the Legion—in pieces. Overwhelmed by fear and grief, Telmé convinces Korin to help him attempt the impossible. But rather than relief, Telmé’s triumph is met with anger and rejection …
In Despair ends the Princes of the Blood trilogy that started with Of Last Resort. The story opens in “present” time – which gives readers the state of continuity after the event that happened in the first book. Korin is in a deep coma and Telmé has pretty much stepped down from his position as Commander of the Legion to take care of his husband. Then the story moves backward to where Telmé and Korin were still in their teens, the beginning of their life-long relationship.
I still have the same issues I had with the previous two books – namely that I feel the world-building and the explanations stay firmly in the author’s head. Oh, I know more about Princes of the Blood now, including their Bloodling ritual. However, the other branches are still blurry to me – although I think Ms. Derr gives few explanations about Titans and Shadowmarch. This is my main issue with this series, that it being some sort of fantasy, I still end up not knowing much about it.
My other issue here is the age of the main characters. Being so young – Telmé is 17 years old while Korin is 15 years old – the story is filled with teenaged melodrama and angst. Including the fighting, the jealousy, the crying… I am not opposed to characters shedding tears but I can’t say I have patience for it either. These characters feel young and act young. Also, the mystery is rather weak. There is no big twist about the villains since the crumbs that Ms. Derr gave are plenty.
Having said that, I still think it’s a good read. When Telmé and Korin are not fighting, when they finally realize that they don’t actually hate each other, when they realize what they feel for one another, those moments are a treasure. I love their conversation at those times. Even if in most of the book, Telmé and Korin are pretty much separated – with Telmé going out to kill monsters after being the sole Princes of the Blood.
In addition, the opening and ending the story in ‘present’ state gives readers closure. I love those two chapters, it is a testament of how strong Telmé and Korin’s love is, after twenty seven years. It also reminds me slightly of a similar plot I read in a historical M/F long time ago when I was younger, where the heroine was determined to be with her husband who was in a coma.
And I do have to say that Ms. Derr has quite the imagination – what with the ritual, the branches, and the monsters. The adventure is great to read. Oh, and also, despite the huge number of casualties, how Ms. Derr writes never goes to a ‘gory’ situation, which I appreciate even if I can sometimes like goriness in my story…
All in all, it is a good ending of the trilogy even if the trilogy itself is not my favorite from Ms. Derr.