Realm Breaker is a Young Adult High Fantasy adventure by Victoria Aveyard. Aveyard is best known for her YA Fantasy series Red Queen. I loved Red Queen but not so much its sequel. However, I decided to give Aveyard another chance with Realm breaker.
Andry is a humble squire sent to war to battle alongside immortal soldiers and the chosen Prince Cortael of old Cor. But then the Prince’s evil twin, Taristan, and his army of the undead slaughter everyone except Domacridhan and Andry, who both flee.
Andry then informs Queen Erida of all that he has seen. Erida appears to take Andry’s account to heart but finds the army of the undead a bit far-fetched. But her actions suggest she’s sympathetic to Andry.
When Dom returns home, he learns that Prince Cortael has a child, and she might be their only hope to save the realm. Dom hires a disgraced assassin with attitude, Sorassa, to help search for the child of Cortael, Corayne.
Corayne is the daughter of a pirate and a prince. She longs for adventure, but her mother believes Corayne does not have the heart of a killer or the spine. But when Sorrassa and Dom offer Corayne the opportunity to help save the realm, she simply cannot refuse.
It’s well written and the abundance of characters, perspectives, and world-building gave this fantasy story a Game of Thrones feel. It is super similar; there even is a red wizard guiding a power-hungry prince. Then there’s a whole undead soldier subplot. Good stuff.
Besides those similarities, some things stood out to me in this novel. First, the powerful queen Erida who took over the throne at the age of 15. Now at 19, she’s mastered her poker face, and when Andry warns Erida of the undead army, she appears understanding. And as if she wants to help. But then Erida marries Taristan, securing a powerful and dangerous alliance.
I was shocked at Erida’s betrayal but also admired her for it. Erida knows Taristan is too powerful, but she’s willing to play a long game with him to secure power. Taristan, on the other hand shows a softer unrefined side when he’s with the queen. No doubt Taristan has plans of his own when it comes to Erida. But I loved reading about their journey together in this novel.
Not much romance happens in this novel. There are hints with Taristan and Erida, Corayne and Andry, and even Sorassa and Dom. I wasn’t expecting much romance in this novel however this quote from Andry about Corayne was phenomenally written!
Now as much as I tried to connect with the heroes of this novel Corayne, Andry, Dom, Sorrasa, and the other side characters that make up their party. I found myself having a hard time focusing on their scenes together. Separately they were interesting, but I was not all that interested in the journey they take. The characters are likable enough and have some comedic moments, but even that was not enough for me.
Speaking of side characters, Corayne travels with seven individuals, Sigil, who is a friend of Sorrasa, a witch who pops in and out of the party at will, and Charlie, a priest. I was a little thrown off with these additional characters because they don’t seem as important to the plot as the other four. Additionally, this novel mentions that there are seven protagonists, but only four of them travel with Corayne. Queen Erida has her adventure, and so does Ridha, Dom’s cousin. Their stories might seem loosely related to the plot but pay attention during those chapters. I suspect they’ll play a bigger role in this series.
I’m undesive about continuing this series at the moment. The antagonists though? I would read a separate book on them. Out of all the characters, I loved Queen Erida the most. Yes, she’s manipulative and has a bounty on all the heroes, but she had the most interesting storyline!
The book’s prologue is also one of my favorite aspects of this novel because a lot happens in it. But it’s super exciting and with lots of world details. The prologue introduces many characters, and I needed to take notes and pay attention because the prologue sets up the whole novel.
Overall, I recommend giving Realm Breaker a try if you’re a fan of epic fantasy. The themes of Realm breaker include destiny, found family, and betrayal. If you’re not a fan of slow world building, maybe skip this one.
CW: violence, parent death, minor character death
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