Last Week on Inked Brownies

For King and Country: The Saga of Thistles and Roses (The Warrior Queen #1) by Karen Gray


Kindle Edition, 338 pages
Published August 1st, 2015

Maybe you should just read the synopsis first…go on, I’ll be back when you’re done *taps foot*.

~Goodreads Synopsis~

Mòrag’s world is one of proud magical creatures and fierce armies bristling with steel and sorcery.

Welcome to twenty-seventh century post-apocalyptic Scotland; where immortal beasts roam wild in the countryside, mighty princes battle for power and the common folk do their best to avoid being trampled in their wake.

Born of a forbidden coupling between the Albannach and Sasannach royal houses; Mòrag is destined to rule. But her birthright has been kept secret – even from her, and discovery of her royal blood could cost her life.

Mòrag is no ordinary girl. Her royal blood’s hidden talents begin to reveal themselves during her military training at Sruighlea Castle, and she is suddenly in a lot more trouble than she ever dreamed of.

Mòrag is about to enter a brutal world of conflict and turmoil which will challenge everything she knows and believes in.

See, the mistake I made was not reading this synopsis first and diving straight into the book based on the cover and the description of the author (don’t judge me, I know there are a lot of cover whores out there just like me). Speaking of the cover, Karen designed all the covers of her books herself and I think she did a GREAT job at it! They’re original, artsy and nothing like: hey, look, here’s a background of a random forest with an even more random picture of a frowning gorgeous girl in front of it. So yes, fabulous!

Back to the synopsis. When I started reading this book, I was totally convinced I was reading Dark Age Fantasy. Mythical creatures in the Scottish highlands…yum! The first 15% was amazing. I even shouted it out on Twitter because I couldn’t contain my excitement. Then, all of a sudden, I read:

The largest of them was lifting a set of defibrillator paddles.

To which my reaction was:

download (3)

*runs to synopsis* AA-HA! Twenty-seventh century post-apocalyptic Scotland!! This was totally my bad because I just wasn’t prepared for it, and it took me quite a while to switch my mindset to “Okay, this is  taking place in the future“.

However, no matter how hard I tried to do this, it still kept confusing me. The combination of  medieval equipment and high tech just kept throwing me off. I mean, they’re living in a castle and sleeping in stone cells with a chamber pot, yet when they get out of bed, they switch on the (electric!) lights and take a modern shower. I just could not wrap my head around that, and it distracted the heck out of me during the second part of the story (roughly from 15-50%).
After that, either I got better at finally putting things into perspective, or the story just got better again *shrugs*. You’ll have to read it yourself to become the judge of that.

Besides there being a lot of horses or horselike creatures in this book, most of the characters also have a familiar, usually in the form of a mythical beast. I absolutely loved those, especially Rannoch, Mòrag’s half unicorn/half lion (well, maybe not exactly because it’s a bit more complicated when it comes to their gene pools, but at least you’ll get some sort of image of what he looks like). I certainly hope to see more of him in the second book!

When it comes to the other characters, the female ones are definitely the most interesting. When Karen told me her female characters are literally strong, instead of the metaphorically ‘strong’, I was fascinated right away, and the elaboration of the characters did not disappoint.
There’s Mòrag, the protagonist of the story, of course, whom I can really appreciate for not being a wuss and doing what she thinks is right while disregarding any form of authority over her. Yet my favourite character would be General Rozzen. She reminded me a little of How To Train Your Dragon‘s ‘Big Boobied Bertha’ even though her physique was nothing like it. Just a strong woman in all ways who won’t take shit from anyone, yet always remains fair and good-natured at the same time.

Somewhere around 85% of the book, the romantic part unfolds. This was very predictable in the Cinderella sense of romance, and not my cup of tea, which was too bad because I just felt like I was back on track again. Thankfully, the ending was less predictable, even though I had to read it a few times to fully makes sense of what on earth was happening there.

So all in all, there were some pretty awesome things and some not-so-awesome things in this book for me. I was really fascinated by the mind link system which is used to communicate telepathically, but can also be used for other things. I guess if I have to describe it, it’s a bit like the Force in Star Wars. You can heal, help and fight with it, but if you cross over to the dark side, you can also totally destroy someone just by using your mind. Very cool!

The story entails some beautiful pieces to a puzzle, yet I feel like they’ve been smashed together with a hammer sometimes just to make them fit. Scenes merging without a natural flow to it is something which I felt occurred quite a few times as well. I still enjoyed reading this book, though, and will rate it with 3 brownies accordingly. I’m very curious about book two now and hoping the pieces to a beautiful puzzle will make for a better fit!

Highly recommended for horse lovers: if you love horses, you’re most likely going to love this book!


A big thank you to Karen Gray for providing me with a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review!

Links to the book:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
The Book Depository

About Anne (231 Articles)
Dutch book reviewer who reviews in English. Grammar nazis beware!! I like brownies. And chamomile tea.

22 Comments on For King and Country: The Saga of Thistles and Roses (The Warrior Queen #1) by Karen Gray

  1. Great review, Anne. I am a cover whore as well, and I think the art on this cover is stunning. I was also curious as to how the 27th century thing was going to work. I think I will put his one on my “get at the library” pile.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. bookheathen // 05/05/2016 at 14:34 // Reply

    Twenty-seventh century post-apocalyptic Scotland!!? AHA – they’ll have to vote for independence first. Especially intrigued by the immoral – sorry, immorTal beasts – my Scottish upbringing was going down quite a different track.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. To be fair it’s a Saga of 20 books set out in 4 linked series of 5. Mòrag’s arc is series 1, Rayven’s is series 2, Artimis’s is series 3 (which is also the prequel series) and series 4 is the origin series for particular characters. So Mòrag’s series isn’t 20 books long, just 5 😄

    Thanks again Anne for a great review 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. For King and Country will be free from the 19th-23rd of MAY and Chains of Blood and Steel will be free from the 24th to the 28th of MAY. If people are interested get em while they’re free 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Olivia-Savannah // 06/05/2016 at 12:08 // Reply

    I don’t think this one is going to work for me because I think the combination of future and past might be a little too much for me to keep a good grasp on. But good on the author for designing all of her own covers. That’s not something easy to do!

    My recent post:

    Liked by 3 people

  6. katelynnhillier // 06/05/2016 at 21:12 // Reply

    THAT COVER IS AMAZING! Our bookshelves would be so magnificently unique if authors designed all their own covers – and I would have more coloured books than black, I reckon!
    I’d probably be equally confused with the appearance of those paddles.. I’m impressed that horses are still so common in post-apocalyptic Scotland! Too bad the flying cars are no longer, though. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s what I thought as well. So pretty and original! Luckily, they don’t all do that because I’m pretty sure they aren’t all as talented when it comes to designing ;). People will always need horses! And mutations of them :D. Ooh, maybe in one of the next books!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Awww thanks guys 🙂 I actually applied to do an HND in Graphic Design so I could legitimately offer cover design and interior book formatting to other authors. But by the time I had started I had already taught myself and released book 1 with book 2 ready to be released. The only thing college has changed with regard to book design, is my typography skills. Before I had none and now I’m a type geek, it’s ridiculous but also handy as an author I suppose.

        That first cover is a photograph I took in Stirling Castle (there the book is set) I had a 2 year old hanging off one arm, and a 4 year old hanging odd the other, while carrying my bag and hubby’s (he walks with 2 crutches) but I don’t think I did too bad a job. It is one of the original tapestries of the castle called “the last unicorn” and it hangs opposite the throne 🙂 I lifted the background to use in all the other books. The colours are different but its the same tapestry background, and I loved that I could carry the theme through. 🙂 Happy Karen face 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • ❤ Awesooooome! I hear ya with the typography thing. Ever since I designed my own wedding invitations last year, I’m obsessed with it…:D. I’m definitely not that talented but it’s the passion that counts nods.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Well if you ever want to know any intricacies of (what my lecturer calls) “the anorak obsession” that is typography just give me a shout.

    It’s brush lettering I’m into now and dip-pen and ink swoon

    Also snap! I did my own wedding invites too 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gawd, temptiiing!! fist bumps! 😀 Real women make their own wedding invites!! I’ll mail you the cover of mine tomorrow. There were people who thought it looked absolutely hideous, but I’m sure you can appreciate the specific art I used ^^.

      Liked by 1 person

4 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. For King and Country: The Saga of Thistles and Roses (The Warrior Queen #1) by Karen Gray | thistleyroses
  2. For King and Country FREE on Amazon this week! | Inked Brownies
  3. Review: Chains of Blood and Steel (The Warrior Queen #2) by Karen Gray | Inked Brownies
  4. The Highland Queen by Karen Gray (SOTAR Book #4) – Cover to Cover

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