Nemesis by Anna Banks
The princess didn't expect to fall in love--with her nemesis.
Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee from his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king's servitude.
Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.
Sepora's gift could save Tarik's kingdom from the Quiet Plague. But should she trust her growing feelings for her nemesis, or should she hide her gifts at all costs?
Princess Sepora has escaped from her abusive father, the king of Serubel and faked her own death. The reason? Her father wants to use her ability to forge the element spectorium to arm his men and start a war against Theoria and the other three kingdoms of the world. Her only hope is to head to the neighboring kingdom, Theoria - Serubel's sworn enemy and the last place Sepora's father would look for her. Her goal is to live in the Baseborn Quarters with the freed Serubelan slaves. and find work as a servant. What she doesn't plan on is being captured by thieves in the tenantless desert between the two countries or to be sold to the king's brother as a present and addition to the king's harem.
Meanwhile, Tarik has been newly crowned the Falcon King of Theoria after the untimely death of his father. At eighteen Tarik is not ready for the responsibility of running a kingdom, especially with the fatal quiet plague that his father died of spreading through the kingdom. His advisor Rashidi insists that they should keep it quiet so not to spread chaos throughout the kingdom, but Tarik knows it is only a matter of time before the disease becomes an epidemic. The last thing he needs is a feisty girl in the palace who has opinions of her own and refuses to become a member of his harem. But could this mysterious girl be the key in stopping the spreading of the disease and prevent a war against Serubel?
As Tarik and Sepora meet, interact, and even fall in love Tarik has no idea that Sepora is the presumed dead princess of Serubel or that she has the ability to create the spectorium needed to cure the sick people of his country. But as hard as they try to keep a respectful distance from each other they can't deny their obvious chemistry or their growing feelings for each other.
What will happen when their fledgling relationship is put to the test of love vs. duty? Will it bring them closer together or tear them apart? How will Tarik react when Sepora's true identity and all of her secrets are laid out on the table? Can you ever really trust your nemesis?
Let me start off by saying I wanted to read this book because of the awesome cover but remember what they say: never judge a book by its' cover. A blogger I'm acquainted with that read an ARC once commented that this book is less of a fantasy novel and more of an instruction manual on how to run a government. At the time I scoffed and decided I would read it myself before forming an opinion.
In a way that blogger was right. This book has a lot of sections about how Tarik is going to run Theoria or how Sepora's father or ancestors ran Serubel and throughout the book that got me stuck a few times. A few times I actually contemplated giving up, especially in the beginning since it's mainly bogged down by Sepora's journey and capture in the Tenantless and Tarik's taking over of Theoria. They don't even meet until page 125! But it was that first conversation between Tarik and Sepora that changed everything for me. For the first time in 125 pages, I was interested in the story. I found something humorous in the writing. And so I continued.
In my opinion, the story gets better from that point onward, with an occasionally boring section about war strategies or running the kingdom popping up from time to time (which I'll admit I did skip over because it was really boring.). The thing is, when I skipped over those sections I don't feel like I missed anything in the story.
I liked Nemesis, but I wish it could have moved like it did in the last 3/4 to half of the book instead of dragging like it did in the beginning. I thought the main characters - Tarik, Sepora, Cy, and Sethos - were great and it was even better when they were interacting. I just think that the slow, boring part of the beginning might cause some readers to cast the book aside without seeing the potential of where this story could go. The other thing I didn't really like, even if it is a petty little thing, is that every other fantasy novel out there from the Throne of Glass Series to the ACOTAR series to the Remnant Chronicles or Three Dark Crowns and gosh so many more, they all have maps at the beginning of the book. I would have loved to have seen a map of the five kingdoms and gotten an idea of where they were located or what kind of natural landmarks (mountains, deserts, ect.) they had. Am I the only one who miss having a map in Nemesis?!?!
By the end, though, I'm dying to see what's going to happen in the next book. Will Tarik come to see that the reason Sepora is drawing away from him is because he's begun acting like her bully of a father? Will Sepora ever forgive Tarik or warm up to him again? What's going to happen to Sethos? These are the things I hope to see answered in the next book of course, but it came so close to me quitting this book before I ever became invested in the characters.
It all comes down to this: Was this the best fantasy novel I've ever read? No. Did I like it enough to want to read the next book? Yes.
3.75 of 5 Stars