Panthera – Andreas Boesch

Hey, people! Yes, I’m talking to you. Wanna hear a shameful confession from yours truly? While I love the more contemporary Urban Fantasy because I enjoy seeing the repercussions of magic and monsters in the real world, High Fantasy doesn’t have the same lure to me. Until a month ago, The Inheritance Cycle and A Song of Ice and Fire were the only High Fantasy saga I’d ever read, and I was okay with it. Then Andreas Boesch asked me to review his book, Panthera, and I had to challenge my prejudice toward a genre that’s usually too slow-paced and old-fashioned for my liking.

Here is my honest review, but let’s take a look at blurb and cover first.

Born and raised in medieval Panthera, Rhennea lives the wretched life of a typical peasant, though she aspires for greater things, love, and a life without violence. Instead, fate will take her on an epic journey of suffering, heartache, battle, and magic. When a soothsayer tasks Rhennea with protecting the infant Rose, Rhennea’s life takes a chaotic turn. Hunted by powerful lords, she is in search of a mythic realm. She is led by a wise panther and joined by the young Lord Kedor Armine and Selena, a cranky midwife.

Rhennea, my favorite POV character, is very relatable: hard working, honest. Despite being a survivor to the bone, she’s willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good. What’s not to love about someone who goes through a lot of pain and rejection without ever losing hope? She is one of those inherently good characters I want to protect and cheer for, even if they might be biased toward the situation they’re in.

Why do I say this? Well, because some Lords dislike her for aligning with the soothsayer who foresaw the end of Panthera as they know it. See, there are factions here. There is this prophecy, and some people want it to become real while others fear it with all their hearts. Having experienced Martin doing a 180 with Daenerys Targaryen’s character, I can’t be sure the prophecy becoming reality is a good thing, and yet the world of Panthera, as it is and as the Lords want it to remain, is flawed and broken. Would it become better or would it get worse if Rhennea completed her task?

Truth is, I love not knowing, and I love speculating about it even more. I wish there were some subreddit where I could spend the time reading interesting theories about this world until the release of book two.

Since we’re talking about book two, there are some characters I loved and I want to meet again (forget about Kedor, I shipped Rhennea with Ulia since the first time they shared a scene), so I’m really looking forward to reading it and knowing how the power will shift and how all the court drama will develop.

I got attached, okay? The dynamics between highborns are described in such a compelling way in this book that I liked reading them very much. Those Lords can be quite petty and resentful! Pity that there were many and I struggled a lot to keep tabs on all of them. Since I had the same problem when I was reading ASOIAF, I wonder if it’s something that comes with the genre rather than a real issue. Whatever the answer, I hope to know more about them in the next installments.

All things considered, I’m glad I was able to overcome my bias to read this book, because Panthera was an interesting read. 4/5 stars.

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