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Book Review: ‘The Price of Redemption’ by Shawn Carpenter

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Marquese Enid d’Tancreville’s whole world is falling down. Despite her powerful magic, she had to flee her home to escape death at the hands of a rebellious mob. Then the ship that was carrying her to safety in a neighboring country was attacked, and she had to fight for her life again. Now another ship has attacked them, and she’s pressed into service in the Albion navy as a sea mage. As she struggles to adjust to her new life, she finds her world views changing. New alliances are made, and new allegiances are felt that will change her life again as she finds out just what The Price of Redemption really is in this debut novel from Shawn Carpenter.

[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Saga Press for the purpose of this review. Warning: My review of The Price of Redemption contains some spoilers!]

Danger and uncertainty everywhere for Enid in The Price of Redemption

It seems like if not for bad luck, Enid d’Tancreville would have no luck at all. An angry mob kills her family and nearly finishes her off too as she tries to flee her home country, Ardainne. Then the ship she escapes on is tracked down by an Ardainne warship. If they overtake her ship Enid will be killed simply for being a member of the aristocracy. But before the ship can catch up to them, an Albion ship overtakes the Ardainne ship. 

Enid is hopeful that her ship will escape, but once the Albion ship deals with the Ardainne ship it comes for hers. After capturing and ransoming her ship, the captain of the Albion makes Enid an offer. She is a powerful mage, although not trained for navel magic. His mage was killed while battling the Ardainne ship. If she’ll serve as his mage until they reach port, he’ll get her there faster and safer than the ship she’s currently on.

Enid isn’t thrilled about his proposal but comes to the conclusion that it’s her best chance to reach her goals, so she agrees. Going from a Marquese to a sea mage is a shock to say the least, but as the days go by Enid begins feeling more comfortable, maybe she’s found a new home here at sea with her new crew.

Carpenter mixes pirates and magic in The Price of Redemption

Okay, technically, Carpenter doesn’t write about pirates. All of the ships in The Price of Redemption are part of their respective countries’ navies. But they run around the ocean capturing ships and either ransoming them (by stealing their cargo), taking them over to add to their navy, or sinking them. It all sounds a lot like piracy to me.

price-of-redemption

Then he mixes in magic. The really cool thing that Carpenter does with magic is make it universal. Everyone has the potential to use magic in his world, and if fact almost everyone can do basic spells for things like tying knots and keeping things dry. But everyone has a different level of ability and not everyone can manage the really difficult spells, which is why having mages around is so important for the ships.

The best comparison I can come up with in our world is technology. Everyone can handle signing into their email (mostly) but we still need IT because not everyone can run a network. The difference is that while here IT is often treated like crap, in The Price of Redemption mages are given proper respect for their skills. True, Enid has to prove herself before the crew fully accepts her, but requiring proof of skill is just having to earn respect and there’s nothing wrong with that. Once she does prove she can handle battle, the crew is very happy to have her along.

Secrets cause some character problems for Enid

Enid is a very secretive character. On the one hand, it makes sense. She’s running from a revolution that wants to kill her, not because of what she’s done, but because of how she was born. Enid also did some terrible things to escape. They were all in the name of survival, but that doesn’t make it any less bloody. So, of course, she keeps things close to her chest. The problem is that it’s not just the other characters that she hides things from. Carpenter also keeps us readers in the dark about a lot of Enid’s past and her true feelings and intentions. Unfortunately, this makes it hard to connect to Enid. Her aloofness comes across to us as well, and personally, I just didn’t care for her or what happened to her.

Carpenter did a much better job with Captain Nath. Nath is more open about what he wants and his ambition, borne more of a desire to prove himself than to actually have power or wealth, makes him a likeable character. He’s kind and leads through respect and kindness. But that doesn’t make him a pushover. He has a strong belief in following rules, although he has just enough bend in those rules to keep him from being prudish. Enid may be the main character of The Price of Redemption, but Nath is the one that saves the story and keeps readers interested.

The Price of Redemption is just the beginning

If swashbuckling fantasy is your cup of tea, then The Price of Redemption is your perfect summer read. Nath is a very active captain, so there’s lots of action in Carpenter’s book. There is some romance, but it’s not the focus of The Price of Redemption, this is very much an adventure book. So if you want some excitement, this is the tale for you. 

This is Carpenter’s first book, but it won’t be his last. It’s only the first in the Tides of Magic series. Nath and Enid end up working very well together. By the end of the story, it looks like they’re poised to become a very formidable duo. I’m interested to see what they’ll get up to next.

Rating: 7/10

The Price of Redemption by Shawn Carpenter releases on July 9, 2024.  Do you plan to pick this one up for a summer read? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus!

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Luna Gauthier

I've always been a bookworm and fantasy is my favortie genre. I never imagined (okay, I imagined but I didn't think) that I could get those books sent to me for just my opinion. Now I am a very happy bookworm! @Lunagauthier19 on Twitter

Luna Gauthier has 229 posts and counting. See all posts by Luna Gauthier