Summary via Goodreads:
Royal Envoy Rema is determined to broker a successful marriage between her master, Emperor Ormun, and a young princess of neighboring Danosha. The Danoshans need protection and Ormun wants their unwavering loyalty. The sanctity of a royal wedding would resolve many diplomatic issues.
Upon arriving in the Danoshan court, Rema does not discover a biddable young princess in awe of the high honor being accorded to her and her family. Princess Elise instead proves a woman of many surprises.
As her acquaintance with Elise grows, Rema’s arguments for the common sense of the marriage sound weak even to her own ears. Her duty is clear, and what belongs to her master cannot ever be hers…
My rating: 4/5 stars
Pros: Interesting characters, good worldbuilding, good writing
Cons: Not all loose ends tied up, ending felt rushed
Fantasy has always been my favorite genre. Books always take me away from my real life and make me feel as if I am in the magical world of the book. However, fantasy books, with their larger than life worlds full of magic, are even better at doing so. The Diplomat is no exception.
Right from the beginning, I got swept up into the world of this book. I remember reading the first couple of chapters and feeling as if I was watching Rema leaving the boat and making her way to the Danoshan castle. It was like I was watching a movie in my head. For many people, this is not an uncommon thing. It happens whenever they read a book. However, it is not the case for me. I’m not a very visual reader. I tend to imagine characters having certain voices but I never really imagine what they look like or their surroundings. Not so with this book. The beautiful writing style swept me in right away and made me picture Rema and her surroundings.
The characters were all wonderful. Even the ones I didn’t like such as Calan and Ormun. Every character had their own unique personality. After I finished this book, I felt like I knew all of the characters very well. I knew Elise’s stubbornness, Rema’s intelligence, Loric’s loyalty, Yorin’s dependability, Muhan’s friendliness, & Jalaya’s peaceful nature. I could go on and on about these characters but I don’t want to make this review too long. I will say, though, that all of these characters stood out. Their unique personalities set them apart from one another.
The relationships between all the characters really made this book shine. Of course the romantic relationship that develops between Rema & Elise is wonderful. I felt that the way the relationship developed fit their personalities. For a while it was like a dance, where they would go one step forward and two steps back. However, after a while it became more like the two of them walking next to each other holding hands. Their relationship only grew stronger and more beautiful as the book went on and it never felt unrealistic or too fast or too slow. It moved at just the right pace for both characters. The characters also have personalities that I believe perfectly compliment each other.
Yet the Rema/Elise romance was not the only relationship I loved in the book. I loved pretty much every relationship. I loved Loric & Elise’s sibling relationship. I loved Elise’s relationship with her mother. I loved Yorin’s relationships with Elise and Rema. I loved Rema’s friendship with Alys. I loved Rema’s & Elise’s friendships with Muhan. I loved Rema’s & Elise’s friendships with Jalaya. All the relationships in the book were great and only made both characters more likable.
The political issues in this book were just as interesting to me as the relationships between the characters. I felt for the country of Danosha, a small country fighting a war they might not have much hope of winning. I felt for people like Yorin who just wants his son to return safely. I felt for the king and queen who don’t want their people to continue to die. I felt for Elise and Loric who understand that Calan’s ideas to continue the war are just plain wrong. And I felt for Rema who felt for them and wanted to help them to the best of her ability. I was interested in the history and present troubles in Arann. I was just as nervous about Rema’s rebellion as she and her friends were. I really wanted them to succeed, not only so they would be safe but so they would truly help the people of the Empire.
The settings of the book also added to its appeal. When I was reading the part of the book that was in Danosha, I began to feel comfortable, to feel at home. Everything from Yorin yelling at the staff to Elise having dinner in her tower began to feel like something I was used to, something I had known my whole life. Even though the book was from Rema’s perspective, I began to feel, like Elise, that Danosha was my home. Then, when Rema, Elise, & co. made the trip to Arann I was immediately struck by the strange new atmosphere. It was a beautiful yet unfamiliar one. It felt strange yet exciting. Just how I imagine it felt for Elise.
The writing in this book in general was very good. It was poetic enough to fit the old-fashioned, unique world of the characters yet simple enough to not be confusing to the reader. The beautiful writing helped to bring out all aspects of the story from the characters to the setting.
There are some issues I had with the book. I felt that not all of the loose ends were tied up. I wanted to know what happened in Danosha. Did the war end? Did Loric & Elise ever reunite? I also would have loved to see more of the two main characters and the future of their relationship. Because of this, I felt that the book would have been even better if it had been longer or even had a sequel.
In general, I loved this book. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who really loves to get lost in one and/or loves fantasy and/or is looking for a happy f/f romance. If you like the political issues in Game of Thrones but prefer a story that isn’t so depressing, this might be the book for you.