This time around I had the pleasure of reading Frank David’s first part of his Realm of Hulsteria series titled, “Making of an Empress” Following is my review that was posted on Amazon.com and Goodreads detailing this medieval fantasy royal drama fun fest! Listed after are both links, check it out!
David’s first book introduces readers to Stelaphina(Stela), an heiress to the Imperial throne of Hulsteria who, at the start, draws readers into her world with her innocent and loving approach to life and the ability to navigate the politics and emotional landmines created in her large world of royal family members. Power comes with a price, as Stelaphina quickly realizes as she finds out the hard way that the actions of today have a ripple effect throughout time.
David expertly details the royal lineage of Hulsteria giving readers a history lesson that throughout reads like the back story to some of daytime’s greatest soap operas of key players all the while maintaining the integrity of his fantasy world. His created cast of characters feel real and come with their own issues that intertwine with Stela’s attempt to corral everyone back to her side as she navigates the turbulent sea of her own actions and the outcome of her political decisions. Everything in Hulsteria is not as it seems, and as Stela soon discovers, being a mother, a leader, a friend, and a lover requires more balancing then she could ever have imagined and that every choice, every path, every thought not only affects her but also her entire kingdom and extended family across the lands.
Every player has a part, every decision has an equal repercussion in the world of Hulsteria. Emotions run high, greed even higher, and as David plays up to the real issues that everyone deals with throughout his or her lives in glorious detail, minus the corset and exceedingly long station names, we are drawn deeper into Stela’s inevitable crash course in running a realm while praying for salvation, hoping for a positive outcome. David’s ability to showcase what life is like for someone thrust into power, when friends become enemies, when everything gets turned on its ear, and how people can change with the slightest nudge or swift kick, beckons us to continue the book and makes us crave future additions of Stela’s life, her extended cast, and the realm of Hulsteria.
Mixing up the medieval with magic, sprinkling the drama with the political, David takes us all on a journey to a created land filled with people that represent the good and bad in life, especially when it comes to family. The use of enormously long station names when people are addressed made sense for the time period in which “Making of an Empress” takes place, but it did tend to become reading heavy, royalty or not, in some sections. Some chapters follow different characters that run tandem with others and, although enjoyable and delved deeper into their own personal driving forces, it muddled up some sections creating a little bit of confusion when reading through the material. The ending did seem to bring you to the edge of the cliff then simply shut down, but after reading a few pages into David’s second addition to the Realm of Hulsteria with, “Making of a Warrior,” it makes perfect sense and follows almost immediately along where Book 1 left off.
If you enjoy high medieval fantasy with a touch of family drama that almost screams the “Real Housewives of Hulsteria,” you cannot go wrong with Frank David’s work. If you enjoy a strong female lead with a wide mix of orbiting supporting characters all struggling to deal with life and leadership, “Making of an Empress” will not disappoint and will satisfy many an hour reading about how the other half lives.