Series: The Glittering Court #1
Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.
Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.
When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.
But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…
4.5 Drink Me Potions
The Glittering Court is unlike any fantasy novel you may have read or expected. Reminiscent to the historical times of colonial settlements and explorations of the New World, this book takes that sentiment and re-makes it into a fantasy world with nobility and Wild West adventures.
Living in Osfrid, our protagonist was the descendant of one of the founders of this land, which is very much similar to the feel of 17th century Europe. Women were meant to be married for wealth and maintenance of bloodlines. It was a men-dominated world.
At the same time, different lands were at unrest, either fighting amongst themselves in a civil war or potentially looking for trouble with other countries. This is where the feel of a regular fantasy world was strongest, although I will say that the world building wasn’t the strongest. There also was no map of all these different places. Names like Lorandy, Myrokosi, Adoria and Sirminica. Like, where the heck are all of them? I was very surprised that the hardcopy book didn’t include a sketch of any kind anywhere. That was one big disappointment, considering this was the biggest point that drove home the genre feel of fantasy .
Ok, back to the protagonist. She was a countess. She had everything she could ever want, right? But her family only had a title and they were trying to secure the wealthiest marriage connection for her. I gotta admire her. The choice to take her servant’s identity to embark on some crazy adventure to the New World (aka Adoria which is like real-life America if you’re still comparing it to the 17th century) was admirable. She was pampered so far in life, but she was brave enough to become an invisible commoner to earn a different kind of place and life. The funny thing that I noticed was peculiar is that you don’t really know what her REAL name is until a lot later in the book, practically near the end. But as Adelaide, the identity she’d taken for this adventure, whatever her heart set out to do, she persevered and did it to her very best ability.
Beyond the different lands in this fantasy world, there was also a rift in people’s religious beliefs. Mead did the most building on this point. Those who believed in 6 glorious angels, and those that believed in all 12 angels, including the 6 wayward ones who had fallen from grace. Liken to heretics in their different beliefs, there was persecution in the land for those who followed such faith.
So that is the world of The Glittering Court. Not quite what you may have expected when hearing “FANTASY“, is it? Well, if all this unsettles you already, this may not be the book for you.
But if you’re still intrigued, keep reading ’cause this is why I gobbled the whole book (which is rather long considering the font is tiny) in one sitting.
The idea of the Glittering Court, a school and business that teaches young girls of common blood to become ladies and brides for the men living in the New world, is familiar to those seen in The Selection and The Jewel. However, this book wasn’t as petty as The Selection as it’s not like each girl is fighting for the same guy. This was truly a benefit from everyone, albeit with a profit for those running the business. And this plotline was conducted WAY better than The Jewel could ever manage (for which I do NOT have a very good opinion of). With this idea being so central, it goes to say that romance was a key element.
Adelaide tried to hide her identity and knowledge as a lady but of course, one guy knew. The one guy who had originally recruited the real Adelaide. Cedric Thorn. Son of the owners of the Glittering Court. University student and overall charming guy. Sweet enough to choose a Sirminican girl to fill a position in their business, considering Osfridians didn’t all look too kindly on these people. And with a smart wit that always had a comeback to Adelaide’s comments.
Let’s take a short moment there to pause and admire Cedric’s traits.
Okay, now as suggested, the witty conversations between Adelaide and Cedric were so amusing and sweet at the same time. They clearly were good friends, but there was also something brewing underneath that even Adelaide didn’t really look too deeply into until they had gotten to know each other more. No insta-love here, guys. The only thing I did wish was that there were moments for their blooming love.
The story doesn’t just revolve around romance though. There was action and adventure, taking on the New World and the dangers presented there. The plot moved from one place to another that it never bored me. Adelaide wasn’t as outstanding of a protagonist as Mead’s other girls, Sydney and Rose, but her voice and narrative never got tiring.
I gotta say, The Glittering Court may not be what you have expected, but it definitely surpassed whatever expectations I had. It helps if you don’t mind a little historical kind of touch to the plot line as it’s hard to not make the connections to our own and very real history in North America. Richelle Mead has a talent for writing stories that draw you in until you just wanna see where she takes us. I’m left with impatience for the next two books as she leaves us with hints of what may be the stories of Adelaide’s two friends. Apparently they will take place within the same time frame but in their perspective. Mead has left a lot of mysterious hints that occur with Mira and Tamsin, both very unique girls, in this first novel that Adelaide noticed. I cannot wait to see what else The Glittering Court was like in the eyes of another strong protagonist.
The Glittering Court isn’t the kind of fantasy you may have in mind. It has certain world building elements similar to most in the fantasy genre, but it also has huge historical touches throughout the storyline. Adelaide is another fun and easy to like protagonist, and her chemistry with Cedric through their witty and flirty banter was tangible. With a pacing that moves at just the right speed, we follow Adelaide’s brave journey from everything she’s ever known (and all the luxuries she’s used to) to explore the New World of Adoria and possibly find her true self there. I will say that this book may not be everyone, especially if you came in thinking this was some high fantasy or something. It’s not. So if that’s not for you, that’s okay. But at the end of the day, I respect Richelle Mead’s ability to weave another story that’s different from what we’re used to from her, but at the heart of it, still contains characters who come alive and draw us in to journey with them.