Title: The White Stag
Author: Linden Flynn
Published: 29th August 2013
By: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Source: A free galley of this book was supplied by the author
First line: The keep was not burning down, but men were rushing about as if it were.
Last line: Spoiler! No can do!
Synopsis: Win and become the King. Lose your armor, lose your life. A kingdom in chaos, and countless men dead. When Cypress emerges from her village in the forest to seek her fate in the outside lands, she doesn't bargain on becoming part of the realm's politics with the Knight's Game. Twelve men were chosen for the Game, each with his own symbol, and the last one standing becomes the next King. One man wears the sigil of the white stag, an unearthly being from Cypress' own forest, that draws her into a world she never dreamed of. But when Cypress comes face to face with her spitting image, the father she never knew, she joins the Game to ensure his tyranny will not become law, all while hiding a secret that could get her killed - that she's a woman.
I love getting my hands on books written by Indie authors and The White Stag is no exception! From the outset Flynn begins to create a complex and well detailed world that instantly draws you in, providing enough detail that you are able to perfectly picture every scene and character.
It was nice to find a female protagonist, in this case Cypress, who is truly kick-ass but who still retains her own morals and opinions irrespective of those around her, particularly so given that she resides in a male dominated world. There are various points during the book where Cypress’s perspective in certain situations begins to rub off on her male counterparts, but it’s certainly not a one way street, indeed there are times where they in turn affect the way that she thinks and this makes for an intriguing dynamic. Interesting too to see how characters react to her differently depending on whether they know her to be female or not, something which also becomes a source of frustration for her at time. It is I think something she handles pretty well and her reaction certainly strikes a blow for the female protagonist.
As with all YA reads there is a romance element but it was pleasantly understated and was certainly secondary to the plotline. There are a range of characters here that I really enjoyed reading about, particularly and whilst some remain faithful in their relationships others change allegiances when you least expect. The switching between causes makes for a more unpredictable read, taking the plot away from the line you expect it to take and it was great to find a book that actually kept me on my toes instead of going through a box-ticking exercise.
The White Stag is the first instalment of the Knight’s Game series, however, unlike a lot of YA series it is a complete story within itself. That said, the way that the book ends means that there are a plethora of stories for Flynn to tell. I look forward to reading them!
4/5 If you like the kind of world that Maria V. Snyder creates then this book should sit very nicely on your shelf! A fab start to an intriguing new series!