Below Forsaken Mountain, a revolution stirs with the aim to overthrow the tyrant king of Trollus, and Marc is the right hand of its leader. It’s a secret more than one troll would kill to possess, which is why he must keep it from everyone, even the girl he loves.
Since a tragic accident revealed her affliction and ruined her sister’s chance at the throne, Pénélope is an anathema to her father, the Duke d’Angouleme. Deeming her life worthless, he gives her one chance to survive: find proof that the boy she loves is a leader in the sympathizer revolution.
Marc and Pénélope must navigate the complex politics of Trollus, where powers on all sides are intent on using them as pawns, forcing them to risk everything for a chance at a life together.
Except being together might be the greatest risk of all.
At the time of reading this book, it had been three years since I read Stolen Songbird, so I was mostly going into it without much idea of the plot of that story, except for some key characters in it. This prequel, The Broken Ones, is about Marc and his wife, Penelope, and is told in their alternating narratives, as well as an epilogue from Tristan’s. It gives a glimpse into life in Trollus before Cecile’s arrival and the whole prophecy setting in motion. This is about the problems with the trolls who were afflicted, and how their lives were affected by the curse upon them, and the centuries of living underground thereafter.
In terms of court intrigue, the story serves a smorgasbord of mystery, and plots. There is the resistance growing in the sidelines, Tristan’s and Marc’s relationship with their friends being tested, Penelope and her sister thrown into it as spies, and the Duke (their father) setting trap after trap for them all. It was wildly unpredictable and wholly thrilling to read this book – I honestly couldn’t put it down because I was so busy, my eyes burning through the pages as I was afraid what might befall the characters. I mean, I remembered some characters being in SS and some not, so I could guess at some things, but Jensen still kept me on my toes. And in a week of disappointing books, this one has lifted my spirits.
As a prequel or as a story in itself, this book is outstanding. If you are planning to start with this series, however, please read Stolen Songbird first, at least, so as not to be spoiled for the latter.
The galley copy also included another short story, Songbird’s Overture, which is not mentioned in the blurb. I assume the final copies will also include it – it is a small 3-chapter story about Cecile, four years before the events of Stolen Songbird.
A short prequel story about 13-year old Cecile, it gives a glimpse into her life before she was taken to the trolls. Her ambition and her desire to be a songstress like her mother war with her desire to stay with her father and be the dutiful daughter. And when her mother visits her on her birthday, you see how cold she is – for her, her daughter was akin to some apprentice she is taking under her wing, not her own flesh and blood. Short as a story, but still an effective insight into Cecile’s background.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Angry Robot Books, via Netgalley.