The Remnant Chronicles is a three book series. The first book in the series, The Kiss of Deception, was released on July 8th, 2014, followed by The Heart of Betrayal a year later on July 7th, 2015, and completed on August 2, 2016 with the release of The Beauty of Darkness. The Remnant Chronicles is a Young Adult Fantasy series which centers around the journey of Lia of Morrigan, a young princess who flees her marriage to a foreign prince, launching her own life and multiple kingdoms into chaos.
Please note that the Mini Reviews for later books in the series feature some spoilers for the prior!
The Kiss of Deception
She flees on her wedding day. She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection. She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father. She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan. The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance. Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia escapes to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive-and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets-secrets that may unravel her world-even as she feels herself falling in love.
The Kiss of Deception gets off to a quick start, with Lia and Pauline fleeing Lia’s wedding day to a foreign prince to secure a political alliance. While this quick start is a sure way to engage readers, it also makes Lia slightly less likeable, as she comes across as a bit spoiled and stuck-up, fleeing what I perceived to be a relatively stereotypical wedding arrangement (for her world and her station). Upon settling down, Lia and Pauline quickly encounter two strangers – Rafe and Kaden. Unbeknownst to the girls, one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Despite to peril of her current situation, Lia quickly finds herself increasingly attracted to the strange men – perhaps seeking a romance of her own choice, rather than an arranged marriage. But Lia’s freedom brings many dangers – men hunt her, her parents have disavowed her, and she has no idea who she can trust. As Lia finds herself falling more deeply in love, she must make an impossible choice, before one of the men in her life makes it for her.
The Kiss of Deception is a great adventure, and an even better romance, making even the dreaded love-triangle endearing. Lia, Kaden and Rafe’s plights immediately draw the reader in, as do their morally grey decisions and motivations. The three are easy to relate to, despite the gravity of their situations. In addition, the plot is fast-paced, but easy to follow, hooking and keeping the reader’s attention early on, and hanging onto it with every twist and surprise (5/5).
The Heart of Betrayal
Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia’s erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar’s interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen. Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: There’s Rafe, who lied to Lia but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives among them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country . . . and her own destiny.
Betrayed by Kaden, an assassin sent to kill her, Lia finds herself captured and being transported through rough terrain to the barbarian kingdom of Venda. Lia has always believed the Vendans to be barbarians, but the more she lives among them, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Rafe too has thrown himself into the hands of the Vendans, desperate to save Lia, with whom he has fallen deeply in love. But as he and Lia struggle to be together, and to find a way to escape, Lia finds herself increasingly embroiled in Vendan affairs, and in the Komizar’s plans. Furthermore, Lia struggles with her gift, unsure what she can do, and how it can be used to free herself and help the Vendans she is slowly coming to understand, and maybe even care for. Kaden is desperate to protect Lia from the Komizar’s cruel power, but unwilling to let her go. And Rafe is equally desperate to save Lia, to free them both, and warn their kingdoms of the coming danger – because the Komizar is readying an army, and war is on the horizon.
The Heart of Darkness is a story of individual growth, of love in the face of impossible odds, and off impossible choices, all leading towards a final, heart-shattering conclusion. Lia, Kaden and Rafe are once again easy to relate to, and their struggles are heart-breaking to read. The reader will find themselves drawn in by the sheer humanity infused into this tale, irregardless of the plot. That being said, the story Pearson weaves here is equally masterful, once again keeping a fast-paced plot with plenty of twists, but still finding a way to make sure the reader isn’t left behind (4/5).
The Beauty of Darkness
Lia has survived Venda—but so has a great evil bent on the destruction of Morrighan. And only Lia can stop it. With war on the horizon, Lia has no choice but to assume her role as First Daughter, as soldier—as leader. While she struggles to reach Morrighan and warn them, she finds herself at cross-purposes with Rafe and suspicious of Kaden, who has hunted her down. In this conclusion to the Remnant Chronicles trilogy, traitors must be rooted out, sacrifices must be made, and impossible odds must be overcome as the future of every kingdom hangs in the balance.
As Lia and Rafe flee Venda with Kaden and a handful of vengeful Vendans on their heels, Lia fears the worst, desperate to return to Venda. But Rafe is terrified of putting Lia in anymore danger, and his love quickly become smothering, pushing the two further apart as they find themselves at a cross-purposes, each with their own country in mind. Finally, Lia is forced to make a heart-wrenching decision, leaving Rafe and her companions behind, striking out for Morrighan with only Kaden at her side. Her mission will involve plenty of danger, espionage and betrayal, as she seeks to root out the traitors in Morrighan’s court and redeem herself, all before the Komizar arrives to destroy everything she loves. Meanwhile, Rafe struggles to find a balance between his duty as King and his love for Lia. Finding himself forced to an impossible decision, Rafe rushes to Morrighan with an army on his heels. Everything comes to a head as Rafe, Kaden and Lia finally stand as a united front in the face of true evil – the Komizar. In battle, each will make impossible decisions, forever changing the course of their lives and the trajectory of their kingdoms.
The Beauty of Darkness is a story of loss, strength and war. No character escapes change as they come face to face with both internal and external horrors, which force them to question their decisions, their loyalties, and their future. Lia, Kaden and Rafe each face impossible decisions, and their choices render them completely bare before the reader, solidifying them as potentially some of the strongest and most human characters I have ever read in the Young Adult Fantasy genre (4/5).
Overall, The Remnant Chronicles was a strong series, which seamlessly blended romance and adventure. Pearson created a magnificent piece of literature here, which examines human motivation, characters, political drive and individual emotion. Lia, Rafe and Kaden are enthralling, engaging “grey” characters who draw the reader into their plight almost immediately, and keep them reading as they become increasingly invested in their well-being. Lia, in particular, was an exceptionally strong female character, who embodied feminine empowerment as she went about her story, never truly the damsel in distress, but instead a strong warrior who fought for her successes and accepts her failures. The plot was well-written, with just enough complexity to be engaging, but not so complex that the reader became confused. At times, the story did become a bit fast-paced, but Pearson always reeled it back in. One downside of having such a fast-paced plot was that at times, certain details fell to the side – one such aspect was the magic system, which could have greatly benefitted from more development. Despite this, overall, Pearson has crafted a truly engaging and entertaining series, with enthralling characters, a solid plot and just the right amount of fantasy (4/5).