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Publisher's Summary

"Escape the City of Gold, or live forever in chains".

Raised in splendid isolation.

Betrothed to a man she despises.

Destined to rule over the greatest city on earth.

She is the Golden Princess.

Sarah dreams of love and adventure beyond her gilded prison, but tonight her dreams come true in the most terrifying way imaginable. A bloody power struggle erupts for the throne, and dawn finds the princess on the run with a bounty on her head. Alone and hunted by guards, criminals, and a ruthless slaver who will stop at nothing to burn his brand into her flesh, Sarah must summon courage she never knew she possessed. 

Hope, however, comes in the form of two lowly thieves. Driven by a secret, they race through Hur-ar's underworld to find Sarah before her enemies do.

Before the next sunset, Sarah's fate, and that of empires, will be decided with gold, steel and blood.

©2016 Brian L. Braden (P)2020 Brian L. Braden

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    4 out of 5 stars

Compelling Beginning to a Saga.

The Golden Princess, written by Brian Braden, is book zero of the Chronicles of Fu Xi. I wasn't familiar with the series prior to listening to this, but feel if the rest of the series is as richly intense and thought out as this prequel, then it's certainly one I'll find myself diving into again.

Braden has delivered a world simultaneous from the distant past of mankind yet also very different, all without getting mired in world-building like many other fantasy novels. Being written after the first books in the series potentially helped here. Not being familiar (yet) with the other novels I can't say for certain, but it's a nice change not to get bogged down by such things.

Told from a number of viewpoints, mostly following Princess Sarah (the Golden Princess) and Prince Ezra, the story is filled with more sinister machinations and back-stabbing royals than Season 1 of Game of Thrones. Well, that might be an exaggeration but life for this pair of future rules isn't easy.

Raised behind the safety of the palace walls, the gilded cage keeps the prisoners from knowing the true nature of man. Sarah and Ezra are equally desperate to make their own way in the world and to do that they must escape to freedom.

But of course, that's not what awaits them on the other sides of the walls. Slavers, thieves, cultist priests, the very bottom of society. But among all of the filth and dregs lies their salvation, their only hope to survive.

Narrated by the fantastic Philip Battley who I thought delivered a wonderful performance. Voicing a diversely rich cast of characters, his pace was spot on to suck me right into this fantasy world. Lately, I've been stumbling into books read far too slowly as if purposely trying to stretch out the run time. Not so here. I found it easy to listen to at normal playback speed, with no detectable errors or retakes to drop me out of the listen.

All up, a great start to a series. I'll be adding the other books into the series into my "to read" list so I can revisit the world again in the future.

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A Story with Incredible Depth

[review here, will fill in later. For now, just know you should buy this book]