Quality Rating: 3/5, Sensitivity Rating: 4/5
The Burning of Riverend is about a young knight named Shaun who is sworn to protect the princess Sara when her kingdom is invaded by a neighboring one. After they flee the castle when it is attacked, they embark on a short journey to rendezvous with the king in another town so that they can counterattack the invaders. As the story progresses, Shaun is revealed to secretly have romantic feelings for the princess she is sworn to protect, which is contrary to her oath.
The story is very generic. It’s mostly just a story about a knight protecting a princess. While the knight in question is a sapphic girl instead of a cishet man (which needs to be done more often), the story is a type that has been told many times before and there is little in the story that feels fresh. It is worth noting however, that this story is dark fantasy rather than high fantasy or a fairytale. Magic is portrayed as antagonistic and some of the things it is shown doing are disturbing even if not exactly original.
It’s a fast-paced story, starting the main conflict very quickly. Almost nothing in the story feels like filler or unnecessary content, resulting in a story that maintains interest throughout most of it. This mostly makes up for the story’s relative lack of imagination. The romantic subplot could have been done better, but it did seem to be setting up for further exploration of the relationship in future books. The book’s ending left me excited to read future books in the series.
Overall, this book succeeds at entertaining. I look forward to reading the sequels to it.