Title: INKER AND CROWN
Series: GUILDS OF ILBREA #1
Author: MEGAN O’RUSSELL
Publication Date: JULY 23, 2020
Ilbrea: A magnificent country that offers fame to those brave enough to seize their place among the Guilds—no one has worked harder to find their scrap of glory than Adrial Ayres. But being a prodigy and the Lord Scribe’s heir won’t be enough to find the secrets the Guilds would kill to hide. Adrial can’t face the dangers of hidden magic alone…
A sailor with a taste for adventure.
A soldier whose heart has been claimed.
A beauty they will never suspect.
A map maker with secrets of their own.
An inker who will change Adrial’s life forever.
The Guilds offer glory. The truth promises death. Adrial might be the only one who can save Ilbrea—if he can survive the shadows long enough to discover his true enemy.Not sure who suffers the most after everything that happened in this book, is it the characters or me?
First thing first, I want to say that I’m truly grateful that the author decided to explore more about the Ilbrea world and decided to expand the stories of this world because Ilbrea is actually a very big world and there are so much stories to tell about it.
We’ve got Ena of Ilbrea series already, which is an introduction to the Ilbrea world, and now we finally get to see more of the Ilbrea world in Inker and Crown which is the first book in the Guilds of Ilbrea series. Only this time around, the stories are focusing on the Guilds, their works, their lives, and how important they are. I do admit that from the Ena series I was curious to know more about the Guilds because they kept appearing in that series but only those who are part of the Guild soldiers.
I was surprised to see that the Guilds are made up of different groups, I thought it was only a name for the soldiers and the sorcerers. Turns out there are different kind of Guilds; soldiers, sorcerers, map makers, scribes, sailors etc. I’m sure there are more but so far, the groups that I’ve gathered from this book are only these five. It was nice to introduce these five groups through the main characters of this series.
As I said earlier, the Ilbrea world is big and that the focus is now on the Guilds. I liked how the Guilds storyline and plot are very easy to follow, and that it wasn’t complicated to understand. There are more to the Guilds than what we’ve seen in the Ena series. I liked how everything about the Guilds was shown and explained in this book, really made me see the bigger picture on how important they are. Also, this book does help me a lot to understand how the Guilds operates and that not all Guilds are evil.
I would like to add that I was glad to see some new places in this book, and since the story mainly took place in Ilara then it was nice to finally see the big city at last. Before this, the characters from the Ena series always mentioned Ilara but I had no idea what it looks like. Thankfully, this time Ilara finally get a chance to shine. There are also other places appearing in this book such as the white mountains, the magical waterfall (if I’m not mistaken), and there was a mention of another country/kingdom called Wyrain. It was so refreshing to see these new places.
Another thing I want to add is the action. I was expecting more of it but since this is just the beginning then I understand why there wasn’t many actions in the book. I hope the next one will have more, like in the same level as the one in the Ena series. And I strongly want to see the main characters at least get a basic self-defense training—except for Adrial since he has a bad leg so I’m just going to excuse him—because it was shown that their lives are in danger due to the riot and attacks from the common people.
There was a lot of chaos in Ilara. Common people attacking the Guilds due to the unfairness treatment they received from the Guilds, and then the disagreements regarding recruiting the unguilded to become guilded soldiers. It was a lot to take in, and I honestly feel bad for the common people but also feel bad for those kind-hearted Guilds because of the bad Guilds they were also attacked.
The characters in this book are very new and I’m so happy that this book have multiple POVs. At least, the characters get to tell the story from their own view and the readers can learn more about the characters and what their lives are like as part of the Guilds. It was really interesting reading and learning about the six main characters in this book. I was so excited to know what their stories will be like before I even started reading this book.
Adrial is a scribe or if you want to know his exact position, he’s the Head Scribe. He’s smart, intelligent, not very talkative, and a bit shy. I really liked his character compared to the others. I feel bad for what happened to him in the past due to the cruelty he was treated with. I was so glad to see he’s living a good life and surrounded by his good friends. I wish he’d been given a good training to at least help him defend himself, but I also understood if he didn’t get one due to him being crippled.
I wanted to see what happen to him next because that ending was just cruel. I need to know if he’s going to be okay. Also, what I want to see more from him next is his ability to lead the scribes since he will be their next leader. He’s also going to be the youngest and kind-hearted leader in the Guilds. I do hope he will be able to soften the Guilds and advice them to do better so that there won’t be a full-on war between the common people and the Guilds. What Lord Garreth said about Adrial being the new voice in the council of the Guilds and have the power to change the rules of the Guilds and make the world a better place was right if you really think about it.
Since he will be the next Lord Scribe then that position automatically making him part of the council that are made up of the leaders of the Guilds. Now let’s just hope the leaders will listen to him even though he will be the youngest amongst them. I want to see how he will handle the upcoming problems and situations, and how he will act being part of the council. There are so many potential for Adrial’s character to become the best or one of the best, and I would like to see the author help Adrial reach that potential.
Kai is a sailor and is part of the Guilds, same as Adrial. He also played an important part in the story even though it wasn’t a lot. Out of all the characters, I feel like Kai’s the only one who seems to be in a peaceful place at the moment. He was out at the sea with the other sailors on a ship along with one sorcerer to protect the crews, meanwhile the others are trapped in a dangerous and life-threatening situations. I’m sure Kai will face a lot of obstacles on board at the sea, but I hope he’ll survive whatever it is. There’s a lot about him that I still have yet to learn, and I feel like his part in this book was a bit short even though he made a lot appearances.
All I can say is that he’s a great young man who is set to do what’s right and from the looks of it, he doesn’t like the Guild sorcerers that much which is understandable. One trait from his character that I liked the most is how he wasn’t afraid to voice out his opinion and how he doesn’t easily back down from a challenge. He’s a determined man, one who wanted to lead people to the right path.
Niko and Mara are both incredible map makers who are currently on a mission. It doesn’t really surprise me that their missions are dangerous and that they had to face a lot of different obstacles out there. At least just by looking at their missions I knew what kind of job they had to do and why it was so important. I was anxious to see whether they will make it out alive or not.
Mara was sent to the White Mountains which is a totally new place because I’ve never heard about it in the Ena series at all. It was really scary knowing what happened to some of the crews that went with Mara on the mission. It was really challenging trying to survive whatever the White Mountains throw at them. One thing I liked the most about Mara is the fact that she doesn’t give up no matter how hard it is for her to finish the mission. She’d witnessed some of the crews’ death and yet she kept going. I think it’s safe to say that she is also very daring. The ending made me questioning about what was going on with her and Tham. It ended in a cliffhanger for sure because they were both trapped inside of the White Mountains and something shifted in there, then suddenly I didn’t hear any news about them anymore. My best guess is that they are safe but something much more dangerous might be coming for them which makes me so eager to read the next book and find out what truly happened.
Niko on the other hand was sent to the Eastern Mountains. Now, this is what made me feel so giddy while reading the book. The Eastern Mountains is where Ena and the rest of the Black Blood clans was staying at back in the Ena series and to see Niko’s mission was to go there brought back those memories and I teared up a bit when the memories hit because I knew how emotional and tough Ena’s journey had been back then. A part of me was hoping for Niko to find the Black Blood clans (well, at least Liam’s clan), just to see whether the old faces still live there or not…I was hoping he might cross path with Liam or Emmett even though I knew what happened to those two and I don’t know why I still couldn’t accept their deaths.
When Niko mentioned about the legends of the Black Bloods and then he was suddenly trapped inside the mountains made me think that maybe it was the same place where the mountains saved Ena back then when she tried to run away from the Guild soldiers. If Niko saw a statue of a woman like Ena did then maybe it was the same part but trying to go out of there can be a bit tricky. I’m still not over the whole Black Bloods thing and need to see the progress of Niko’s mission. Will he be able to get out of there or is he going to cross path with the Black Bloods and perhaps he might accidentally reach Lygan Hall? There are so many possibilities and I cannot wait to see what will happens next.
Lastly, I really admired how calm Niko has been the whole time he was trapped in a foreign place. The man managed to remain cool while his partner freaked out which is totally understandable. What made me sad was knowing what is happening between him and Allora. Their relationship was really sweet but I wasn’t sure how they will move forward next after what Allora agreed to. All the more reason why I’m looking forward to read the sequel.
Allora on the other hand was quite a nice character. Wise and definitely is the one who managed to help the other characters a lot. I don’t know what her role or purpose is (maybe it was mentioned and I forgot about it), but all I know is that she had to make sure the others are safe and the secrets they kept are buried in a place where only she and the others know. It was really smart of her and the rest to do what they did even though it was really dangerous and if their secrets were to be found, they would have to face a serious punishment. I was scared for them and yet proud of their bravery for doing what they did. How long will Allora be able to keep their secrets safe, and how long will she be able to keep the others out of harms way?
I know that her responsibility is bigger even though she hadn’t done anything heavy compared to the other characters but I can’t deny that she is an important person due to how strong her influence was. I would really like to see how she will adjusting to her new life next and what will she do about her friends whom she called as her own family. Can she change the Guilds to do better and make Ilbrea a better world?
Finally…I want to say that it was so good to see Ena again. She made a special appearance in this book and perhaps she will be staying for the rest of the books in this series? Hopefully, because she still have one last mission to do which is to burn down Ilara and defeat the Guilds. Her journey in her own saga previously was really challenging and tough to read. After witnessing what her life was like previously and then seeing how she is in this book made me happy and sad at the same time. I was happy to see she get to live in Ilara and get to live quite a good life being an inker, but also I was sad knowing how much she had lost in her life and she basically had no one to be there for her. How much can one person had to suffer?
Ena is still the same. She was brave, daring, tough, and wasn’t terrified of anyone who tried to harm her or blackmailed her. It wasn’t a surprise to see her like that, after all she had seen things a lot worser than the one in this book. I also wanted to add that she talked a little bit about her previous life and mentioned a small detail about her relationship with Liam without mentioning his name at all. I shed some tears whenever she recalled her memories of her previous life, it was too painful to read and the wound still felt so fresh.
Can she please get a permanent happy ending this time because I’m so going to support her relationship with Adrial if they were to ever pursue a serious relationship like she and Liam did back then. I can see that Adrial is way too good for her but they have a strong chemistry and shared a connection that no one has. I would call their current stage of relationship is leaning toward friendship more but it doesn’t hurt to hope they would end up together in the near future (only if both of them manage to survive).
Adrial deserve to have someone who appreciate him, see his worth, believe in him, and doesn’t mind the fact that he is crippled. And Ena had proven that she truly cared for him and his well-being that she appreciate him, see that he is worthy enough to right the wrongs, believe that he would change the world into a better place, and despite seeing Adriel limping she still helped him instead of making fun of him.
Ena deserve to have someone who doesn’t make false promises, betray her trusts, leaving her behind to fend for herself, and truly want to make her happy. From what I’ve seen so far, Adrial never broke his promise to her, he never betrayed her, he never wanted to leave her behind despite how much chaos was there in Ilara and yet he still went to her place to make sure she was okay, and he kept telling her that she can come live with him and will do anything to protect her even if that means breaking the rules of the Guilds. I do believe that he can do what Liam couldn’t. There are so many signs that showed Adrial won’t make the same mistake as Liam did. Is it foolish of me to think Adrial and Ena could be together? Maybe, but I’m not going to give up hope.
Overall, it was an enjoyable story especially for the first book in a new series. Introducing new characters, exploring new places, and focusing the story on the Guilds…I think it was a great move since the Guilds are also important and kind of mysterious. If you’re new, you can read this without reading the Ena series, but if you want to get a better reading experience and want to understand the world of Ilbrea more then start by reading the Ena series first. It was a phenomenal series and so will this series be. I will never get tired of reading about the Ilbrea world. I can’t wait to see the characters continuing their journey again in the sequel, I’m looking forward to read more.