[Netgalley] Tales of the High Court: The High King’s Golden Tongue (#1) and The Pirate of Fathoms Deep (#2) by Megan Derr

Hey guys! So I’m back with a review I’ve been dying to share since I finished the book! I put Netgalley in brackets because the second book in this series is one that’s been on TBR pile for ages now and it just seemed right to put both reviews in one post

Also, if anyone is curious, my Netgalley score went up again! I’m now at 60%, which is better than 54%. I know, still not the best but it’s getting there ^^

The High King’s Golden Tongue

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★★★★★

This story follows (mostly) Allen’s journey as he tries to become an acceptable consort to High King Sarrica, who has promptly kicked him out of court on his arrival. His reasoning: he wants a consort who is a soldier, someone who can rule with him as an equal, not just a pretty face he can’t trust. Allen on the other hand, isn’t sure why he’s been so rudely dismissed and later ignored and humiliated. Instead of letting this get to him too much, Allen puts himself to use, intent on proving Sarrica that he isn’t weak. He tries to settle communication affairs with staff, gets to know his surroundings, and finding out about a secret mission in need of a silver tongue (multilingual speaker), Allen appoints himself to the task. A task that ends up being much tougher for everyone involved than Allen expected.

WOW. How did I not read this book before?!

So the reason I picked up this book is because the second one (The Pirate of Fathoms Deep) was on my Netgalley TBR pile. I had promised myself that I would start getting through those this year and when I looked up the summary for TPoFD and learned that it was a gay romance, I knew I had to read that one first. And since it’s a series, I should start with book 1 and I LOVE Allen so much!!

I actually listened to the audiobook and while the narration wasn’t amazing, it was pretty well done, keeping me engaged with the story from beginning to end.

I instantly fell in love with Allen’s character. I loved how he was so tenacious when it came to being Sarrica’s consort. I mean, he’d spent his life (and last 2 years) training to become his partner. He knew 14 languages (FOURTEEN PPL, TWO IS HARD FOR ME ALREADY) like a native, knew how to mingle with the council, and was charismatic enough to make (almost) everyone fall for him. And even with all his talents, he’s not prideful or a jerk. He always listens to people and tries to find the best solution to things. And he keeps proving he’s not a fragile little prince. Like SARRICA YOUR FOOL. I was about to jump into this book and try to woe Allen myself!

And speaking of Sarrica. I like how it’s almost like experiencing two different characters. We see him from Allen’s lense at the start. I swear I was about to knock him out then. Then we actually get into his head and realize that Sarrica is stressed out with kingly responsibilities, is still in mourning, and is just an awkward guy who can’t seem to express what he wants well. I think this last one made me especially feel for him because I’ve been in that situation before many times. Plus, his bantering with Lesto and Ren (the one con about audiobooks is that I have no idea how to spell character names)

In terms of the story, it wasn’t anything Amazing but coupled with the worldbuilding, I have to say this is one of the few books that I instantly wanted to know more. I wanted to know more about the different cultures mentioned, hear the languages, and just SEE everything. I’m sure it would be beautiful! I also can’t say much about the plot but do expect some killing as this does take place in a world where war is a thing.

In terms of the romance, I did enjoy it though if I had to be picky, I did feel like the change in behaviour was a bit abrupt. It’s something that Allen mentions at one point but having been inside of Sarrica’s head, it also sort of makes sense. It wasn’t that Sarrica suddenly changed, he just hadn’t been looking and when he did, he just kept messing up. We see his change from grumpy ol’ fool to smitten high king. And that ending was a bonus for all that tension throughout the story, lol!

One thing I do have to mention though is that we have quite a few trans characters in this book and it’s hard to pick up on this through the writing. For a long time I thought that this book featured Mpreg but after looking at the author’s blog and some comments on Goodreads, I stumbled upon this little nugget of knowledge. I love and “hate” (more like it confuses me) how this isn’t clear. Love it because it normalizes trans characters, like yeah he’s a guy and that’s that. But I also wish that I knew how to pick up on this fact. I guess it’s because this feels like a fantasy read that my first thought would be to think it has Mpreg

ANYWHO, maybe that’s just me! But seriously, if you want to read a gay romance novel with a well thought out structure and characters you’ll fall in love with, this is the one to pick up. I ended up rating it a 5/5 because it was a Great Read and I jumped into book 2 with so many expectations

Unfortunately, the second book didn’t live up to my expectations

The Pirate of Fathoms Deep

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★★★☆☆

I’m not even sure how to start this! When I read the summary for this one, I realized we probably wouldn’t be getting much of Allen and Sarrica, since this book focused on Lesto’s romance. But I wasn’t put off since Lesto was a character I really wanted to learn more about since he was kind of like that stoic and mysterious guy in an anime

In comparison, this book wasn’t as good as The High King’s Golden Tongue but it did have it’s own appeal. In this story it’s been awhile since the events of THKGT (about a year I’d say) and we follow Lesto as he wakes up tied up and far away from home. Quickly realizing he’s been kidnapped, he tries to find a way to escape except he’s completely drugged and ready to be sick. Luckily for him, his kidnappers stop along the way to get the carriage fixed, where he’s reunited with the pirate who punched him and who he had a one night stand with. Shemal ends up helping Lesto escape and the two try to get back to Harkenesten but end up mixed in with some political troubles.

I think the reason I didn’t like this book as much as THKGT is because of the romance. While I liked Lesto and Shemal together, it just felt too random and instalove. I remember the whole being punched thing since I immediately jumped into this book after THKGT but then being told the two slept together and that Lesto had been pining for Shemal feels too convenient  and out of character (though even if he had, we didn’t see him A LOT or into his head in book 1 so maybe it’s all good??). I felt like them pining for each other since that one meeting and then jumping to creating a future together was a bit fast. Though I did like that their relationship was a bit more clear. While Sarrica and Allen had many misunderstandings, Lesto and Shemal were pretty clear about how they felt

Also, this book just follows the romance outline I’m used to

Something else I found a bit off putting was how violent Lesto was in this book. We knew he had a temper in THKGT but it always came off as bantering. In this book I had to pause with how he acted with Sarrica, especially since we’re now in his head and it felt like there was intent behind that anger sometimes. He was also rather violent as a commander but that I didn’t mind as much. Though I do find it kind of funny how these guys who sound like they’re #1s keep getting into such trouble.

It was definitely a more fiery and passionate type of couple this time around, which was nice, but also I just found it hard to connect to either character. I also felt like the story here was a tad less developed and things seemed to clear up rather quickly by the end of it. Remember that political thing I mentioned? It ended up feeling like an afterthought in the story and was only really brought up again at the end when it was resolved

I ended up rating this one a 3/5, which feels like quite a drop from THKGT. I know this series has 4 books and I would Love to continue it but they start to focus on characters I don’t really care about. For example, in book 4 we follow Myra, Sarrica’s secretary’s romance. While I didn’t dislike Myra, he just wasn’t a character I was invested in or cared about. And in book 3 we follow Kamir’s romance, who is the new commander. Again, not someone I was really invested in. Plus, I feel like the rest of the series will pale in comparison to THKGT But, I do know that the author has some short stories of this world on their blog so definately check those out too!



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Thanks for reading! Have you read these books before? Completed the series? LMK your thoughts and if I should continue it! Do we disagree on some points? Agree? Which is your favorite? Which of her other books should I check out!

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