R. Garland Gray – "Predestined"

18 Mar

GENRE: Romance / Paranormal
PUBLISHED: Medallion Press, 2005

The back blurb:
“Abandoned at birth on the shores of a sacred loch, Bryna never knew her family or true heritage. She exists as a slave in the fortress of a Roman invader, her only friend an ancient, blind Druidess, Derina. Her life is bleak and without hope. And then Derina tells her she must rescue the prisoner in the dungeon.
Tynan lies naked, chained to a cold, stone slab, both body and mind tortured by the Sorcerer, evil ally of the Roman lord. The Sorcerer’s purpose? To discover if this one, at last, might be the Dark Chieftain, the fulfiller of prophecy.
Even deeper in the dungeon, trapped by magical enchantment, are the faeries. They await their liberator, the one who has been prophesied.
And the Dark Chieftain awaits a destiny of his own .. mating with the territorial goddess … a union that will set the land, and many lives, aright.
First, however, he must gain his freedom and find her.
And Bryna is on her way to the dungeon …”

Predestined is one of the few romance novels I bought without having read comments or reviews about it and without knowing the author. It helped that this novel is published by Medallion press because I enjoyed Hope Tarr’s Vanquished very much which is also published there. As is often the case, I was interested in the second one in this series and so I had to read this one first. I also liked that faeries seemed to play an important role in this series – it’s something I don’t read often.

But despite my interest in the faery elements, I had trouble getting into the story for a number of reasons:

the heroine: The most you get to see about her background – where she’s coming from – is when you read the back blurb. So you know she’s a Roman slave. But you never get to see her life as a slave. You’re plunged into the story with Bryna visiting a prisoner in the dungeon (the druidess told her, so it’s not in her slave “function”) and in the one scene with her as a slave she’s doesn’t act very slave-like. She repeatedly looks her master in the eyes even she’s told – and surely must know after all the years as a slave – to do otherwise. This not-seeing-her-live-as-a-slave made is hard to warm up to her especially since some of her actions later in the story are explained because of her being a slave for many years. For example, she’s repeatedly told to look up and other people in the eyes when they talk to her. Huh? Now she looks at the ground? Hard to believe because it seemed uncharacteristic. Sometimes the “she’s-a-slave” explanation even makes her look stupid. And I had the impression that she’s a bit slow-witted to begin with asking rather stupid questions when the answer is not that difficult to see.

unclear concepts: Tynan suffers under a Geas, a magical obligation. It’s something he can’t do anything about. When it’s triggered he has to act on it or else he’ll get mad. In his case it’s the urge to mate with someone. It took me a quite some time to figure what Tynan’s dilemma was. Bryna triggered his Geas (ha!) and he has to act on it. But at the same time, he has to mate with the territorial goddess to save his land and people and he thinks the faeries, being responsible for this, will think he screwed them when he screws Bryna and won’t give their favor to his land and people. My problem was that I thought his Geas and his destiny to mate with the territorial goddess was one and the same but this whole mess makes sense only when they’re two different things. There’s also a prophecy floating around and what exactly is a territorial goddess (other than a special kind of faery)?

an unfocused story: Just what is the main story here? Is it Bryna’s discovery of her true self? Is it Tynan’s quest to fulfill the prophecy? To find the territorial goddess and mate with her? I think it’s supposed to be the first because the other two are resolved long before the novel ends. If so, I think it would have been better to open the story with some glimpses of Bryna’s life as a slave to get a better sense of her development. As it is now, Bryna remained rather bland and uninteresting.

plot problems: The Sorcerer is supposed to know Tynan’s name (p. 71). But then he should have known that he had the right one because of SPOILER. I didn’t believe that. And I think it’s for plot reasons that Derina springs Bryna’s heritage on Bryna just before Bryna needs to know about it (she also seems to keep other important things to herself)

“You are the Lost One, destined to be the mate of the ancient lord.”
Bryna scoffed in disbelief. “Prophecy says the ancient lord’s mate will be a territorial goddess.”
“I am not a goddess, Teacher. I am a slave as you are well aware.”
“Child, you possess the ethereal soul of the faery, though it it hidden by the layers of hardship you have had to endure.”
“My destiny is fortitude and endurance, a slave’s fate, not a goddess of prophecy. I am not even sure that I believe in the stories you tell.”


Well, sure she tells her now. Otherwise there would not be much of a story. Way to be a “Teacher” and a friend.
There are also other things that seem to happen just for plot reasons.

other problems: sudden changes of POV in one scene; some “huh?”-moments when things happened; a hazy impression of time and place; an abundance of “doona”, “canna”, “dinna,” … and Tynan calling Bryna “faery”.

To sum it up: Predestined could have been an interesting novel with the faery premise and different time setting. But sadly, the story suffers from an unclear focus and unclear writing that made reading this novel (for me) a bit confusing and less enjoyable than it could have been judging on the premise alone. I often had the thought that the story wasn’t as flashed out as needed, that some, sometimes only small, things were missing. As a result, I felt distanced from story and the characters and on very few occasions did I connect, I lost it shortly after that again.

Would I recommend this novel? Probably not.

Would I read this novel again? Probably not.

Grade: 2 / 5


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