This book. This series. This author. Son of the Drowned Empire by Frankie Diane Mallis was such an emotional, character driven “novella” – I use quotes because, let’s be real, it’s a full-sized novel with the size of it – made perfectly for the Rhyan stans out there. Of which I am faithfully one of. What makes this book more than anything is the character development it provides for Rhyan, because it is immense and it is touching and brutal.
What I loved most about this side novel from Rhyan’s point of view, is that we get a version of Rhyan, this tough, stoic warrior that is much more vulnerable in his younger years. It’s a side of him not often seen in the main series, and it provides so much context and explanation for who he becomes with the backstory to his life before Lyr’s story begins. The reader gets to see and even experience the depth to which he feels for Lyr almost from the beginning, and how he is forced to deny himself any kind of happiness in an effort to protect her, and all those people in his life he cares about. It’s heartbreaking to see the extent he sacrifices himself for everyone in his life he holds dear, and even more devastating to see how far he withdraws from said people to further protect them, not even allowing himself the comfort of their companionship for fear of what will happen to anyone he obviously loves.
I didn’t think it was possible for my love of Rhyan to grow any further but somehow, miraculously this book made it happen. The emotions his situation ripped out of me were so intense and all consuming. I felt every moment of his pain and suffering. I was devastated by his agony and his lack of feeling. I cannot express how emotional this book made me as a reader.
Even the minor characters weaseled their way into my heart. Rhyan’s closest companions, for all that he held himself back from them, quickly weaseled their way into my heart as well. I loved every moment they were with Rhyan in this book and wanted more. Garrett, Aiden, and Dario were such well fleshed characters, and at times hilarious in their interactions and I completely ate every moment up. I just wanted more of them with Rhyan particularly because those moments were the few times Rhyan seemed to have even some small measure of happiness.
Can I also just take a minute to obsess over how gorgeous the cover is!? I’ve loved every cover for this series because they are all out of this world, but this one straight up took my breath away just when I thought it wasn’t possible to stun me with how beautiful these covers are. Just wow.
Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is read it. If you haven’t started the series yet, do it. If you are just waiting for this book to release, hop on it as soon as you can because it is worth every second (of pain and otherwise). I cannot get enough of this series and am going to be dying inside a little until the next one comes out now.