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Second Son by Pamela Taylor

The first book in what promises to be a terrific series, Second Son: Volume 1 of the Second Son Chronicles, by Pamela Taylor, tells the story of a prince of a Renaissance-style realm, Alfred, a young man who because of his birth, might have royal blood but is also destined for an ordinary if privileged life. All that changes when he is captured and held to ransom in a long-held feud born of revenge and a desire to crush the current monarch, Alfred’s grandfather. But Alfred, a kind, intelligent and compassionate young man, is more than he seems and throughout his ordeal, the lessons he’s learned from his grandfather, father and various mentors, put him to the test in ways he never anticipated…

This is a carefully crafted, well written story that really immerses the reader in Alfred’s life – the complicated simplicity of it – and how, as a “second son” the expectations placed upon him are mainly self-imposed, which requires a self-discipline not all in his family possess. There is drama, romance and all the ingredients of a good story with the added bonus of historical accuracy within a fantasy realm, albeit one based on our actual past. It’s also an excellent first book in a series in that it sets up the geo-politics of the world, the social structures and, of course, the main characters and their various relationships as well as a nice “hook” at the end. You really believe in Alfred, his family and the world and root for them. I also really enjoyed the fact that everyone’s motivations were plausible – there were no Machiavellian-style villains (though there were those out to please themselves at any cost, including kidnap and murder) and Taylor didn’t steer away from having decent people shine and exploring the type of qualities that make an excellent leader or person.

Overall, this was a lovely read that shows Taylor’s skills as a wonderful storyteller – one that knows how to lure the reader into wanting to continue with Alfred’s tale. I certainly will be!

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