Anna Banks weaves a sharp, twisty tale to finish her NEMESIS duology!
After hiding in the neighboring kingdom of Theoria disguised as a servant of the young King Tarik, Princess Sepora of Serubel’s true identity has been discovered. She’s gone from a refugee and friend of the king to his fiancee. The arrangement isn’t exactly a happy one– Tarik doesn’t know how to handle Sepora’s deceit and Sepora has been enraged since she learned that Tarik planned to marry someone else before he knew she was a princess, despite their amorous connection. The two know they must play along to ensure peace between their kingdoms, but everyone seems to have their sights on the most prominent kingdom in the land and it may be too late to save Theoria from disaster.
Anna Banks strikes again with a fierce blow of political intrigue in Ally, featuring even more force than its predecessor, Nemesis. There are new figures coming into the fray, including Sepora’s father King Eron, who is quite obviously plotting against Theoria, and her concerned mother Queen Hanlyn, who wants what’s best for Sepora, no matter the cost to Serubel or Theoria. We’re also seeing a lot more from the other kingdoms, particularly Hemut, the ice nation whose beloved Princess Tulle is now precariously betrothed to Tarik’s (quite unhappy) younger brother, Sethos, after being rejected by Tarik himself. Readers are introduced to new cultural traditions and fascinating feats existing in each individual kingdom that added some great worldbuilding to the story.
The tale gets deliciously twisty as tensions build and the novel does a great job maintaining some mystery throughout. Even as dark schemes unfold, it’s hard to know who is truly behind them. When the truth does come out, the answers don’t present an easy fix for peace between the kingdoms. Theoria is threatened both inside and out, and you never really know if the kingdom can be saved– or who will be lost in the process.
The action run a little thin as it simply doesn’t seem to be author Anna Banks’ preference. The majority of the action happens “off-stage.” Either the drama doesn’t involve Tarik or Sepora directly or the writing cuts away at the opportune moment and comes back in later, suggesting a daring escape or dramatic turn of events without actually showing it. I found myself wishing we got some new perspectives from characters who were a little more involved in the story’s adventurous elements like Sethos. There is a major, compelling battle scene in the mix, however. It was short, but it definitely tapped into some big fears and presented emotional moments.
Nemesis was built on some serious romantic undertones, which makes Ally a little frustrating at times. There are some amazing romantic moments in this second novel, but Tarik and Sepora spend a lot of time denying their feelings and playing at animosity when they could be an awesome power couple diving into a wild attempt to save a fractured kingdom together. They’re right to have some reservations about one another thanks to previous secrets, but it was a little too drawn out and just started to feel like drama for the sake of drama after a while. However, There’s also some romance outside the main coupling this time around, and it’s as thoroughly adorable with a pretty badass undercurrent.
As I started to reach the last chunk of pages, I wondered if the duology was changed to a trilogy. It turns out that no, it wasn’t. The story just wraps itself up VERY quickly. I found the ending to be sweet and mostly satisfying, a quick wrap-up of two worlds colliding in spectacular fashion. I just wish we got a little more time to see it all fleshed out.
I liked Nemesis a little more than I did Ally, but I firmly believe this duology to be Anna Banks’ strongest offering yet, and I’ll be ready to read her next book when it hits shelves.
RATING: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS
Ally (Nemesis #2) is available starting today, October 3, 2017. You can pre-order it now via Amazon.
Princess Sepora of Serubel and King Tarik of Theoria have formed an uneasy truce between their kingdoms since the deadly plague began to rip through Theoria. Since their feelings for each other are entangled in politics and power, they must use their own trusted resources to find common ground.
But when traitors with powerful allies arise from unexpected places, Tarik and Sepora face challenges that will change both of their kingdoms forever. Will they learn whom to trust—including each other—in time to save their kingdoms, their relationship and even their lives?