The Heart of Betrayal: The Remnant Chronicles, Book 2
By Carrie R. Wheadon,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Satisfying fantasy romance full of political intrigue.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
As with many books that build new fantasy worlds, this one has a map enclosed to help readers get their bearings and includes different kingdoms with various customs and religious beliefs. Readers can compare what's on the map with real places, as well as think about what's the same and different in real religions they know about; for example, the "finding stillness" aspect of the Morrighan religion resembles some Buddhist practices.
Much about the sacrifices made in the name of protecting those we love. Violence is driven by a desire for power or revenge. Revenge is seen as natural, but the power-hungry are shown in a bad light. There's also a reminder that taking the time to get to know a foreign culture and its people transforms us, allowing ignorance and negative stereotypes to disintegrate.
Positive Role Models
Lia remains a strong character, despite her position as prisoner and pawn. She knows when to push back and how much, and she's more concerned about protecting those she loves than about her own freedom and safety. She also comes to admire a people she previously called barbarians and shows compassion for them. However, she's still driven heavily by revenge and spends little time exploring her role as heroine -- she'd rather plan her escape than stay and fight for the people who look up to her.
Violence & Scariness
A few disturbing murders: A child is run through with a sword before her killer suffers likewise, a man is decapitated in the street, and three boy soldiers who deserted are decapitated, their heads set on posts to rot as an example to others. A skirmish leads to a handful of deaths by sword and arrow with some injured by arrows. A young thief loses a finger in punishment, and a woman loses her whole hand -- we see both characters after the fact. A horse is exploded on purpose as a demonstration. Lia is coerced into kisses in front of many male onlookers and feels sexually powerless to avoid threats of worse. A handful of stories show how certain characters got to be ruthless killers, involving child abuse, the murder of one's own father, and the killing of a lover by a father resulting in a revenge killing by another.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Besides coerced kisses, there are romantic kisses with some groping. Bawdy talk of how the main character, as a prisoner, earned extra privileges by sleeping with a man -- though she didn't. Mentions of men who frequent brothels and the place where the head of the government had affairs with women.
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"Bitch" three times and "ass," "damn," and "bastard" about the same.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There's plenty of ale and wine drinking among all ages at every nightly meal with the local government, including some mention of drunkenness and drunken behavior.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Heart of Betrayal is the second book in Mary E. Pearson's Remnant Chronicles, aimed at mature teen romantic fantasy fans. The main character, Lia, is held captive by a hostile kingdom where life is harsh and violent. Expect a few disturbing murders: A child is run through with a sword before her killer suffers likewise, a man is decapitated in the street, and three boy soldiers who deserted are decapitated, their heads set on posts to rot as an example to others. Skirmishes lead to more deaths and injuries by sword and arrow. Lia is coerced into kisses in front of many male onlookers and finds herself feeling sexually powerless to avoid threats of worse. There are a few romantic kisses, too, with some groping. A few scenes are heavy on innuendo about male exploits, and many scenes are filled with all-age drinking in a large government dining hall. Lia is an admirable character; she's strong despite her position as prisoner and pawn and concerned about protecting those she loves over her own freedom and safety. She also comes to admire a people she previously called barbarians and shows compassion for them.
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What's the Story?
Princess Lia and Prince Rafe are in a really tight spot. Captured by the power-crazed Komizar, the head of the Kingdom of Venda, they have a lot of quick thinking to do to stay alive. Prince Rafe pretends to be an emissary for himself, claiming that the King of Dalbreck is dying and the prince wants to form an alliance and take down the Kingdom of Morrighan where Lia's parents reign. Lia pretends to hate this emissary -- she feels quite the opposite -- and offers to use her gifts of prophecy to benefit the impoverished Vendans. The Komizar, who never takes prisoners, is intrigued by them both, especially Lia. Her longer name, Jezelia, is the name ancient prophecies speak of and who can bring the Vendan people hope for peace and a way out of poverty. A clan of Vendans immediately accepts Lia and reveres her, something the less superstitious but more power-hungry Komizar knows he can use to his advantage. Being the Komizar's prisoner and pawn is a frightening business. Lia knows she and Rafe must escape Venda before they're both dead -- or, worse, before Lia becomes the Komizar's bride.
Is It Any Good?
If you're not immediately drawn in by this compelling story of two imprisoned royals in love trying to lie their way out of getting killed in a hostile kingdom, you're no lover of romantic fantasy. The premise of THE HEART OF BETRAYAL alone will hold most readers, even when the middle flags as author Mary E. Pearson mixes abstract passages of an ancient prophecy with too much background in Vendan politics. Another thing that slows the action is the constant shift in perspectives. It makes for great character development -- the author does this so well -- but it's at the expense of well-crafted action-oriented scenes.
Still, when the last act gets rolling, you won't be putting down this sequel. Every guess you have for the story's outcome will probably be wrong, leaving readers with plenty of exciting ideas about what's to come in Book 3.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the warring kingdoms in the Remnant Chronicles. What's the difference between how the Komizar rules Venda and how Lia's royal parents rule Morrighan? Why did Lia think the Vendans were barbarians? What did she learn about them?
The Heart of Betrayal ends with another cliffhanger. Will you read Book 3? What do you think will happen to all the main characters and various kingdoms?
The Komizar mentions often that "there are no children in Venda." What does he mean? What makes it harder to be a child in that environment?
- Author: Mary E. Pearson
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Inc.
- Publication date: July 7, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 480
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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