The Crown of the Desert

Book Three of An Empyrian Odyssey

Young Adult - Fantasy - Epic
383 Pages
Reviewed on 01/18/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

The Crown of the Desert is the third book in An Empyrian Odyssey series by N. L. Willcome. Continuing the story of Tamsin as she looks for ways to help Haven, every time she gets close, something stumps her efforts. Getting Haven free from the clutches of the Ravine of Bones appears to be near impossible, but that does not mean she will stop. As Tamsin gets in touch with her newly emerging powers, outcasts appear and cause chaos. The Empyrian rebels work toward ending Cornelius’s regime while Emilia, Georgiana, Lord Urbane, and others all have their battles to fight. However, nothing comes close to the chaos inside Tamsin. She needs to make a decision, and she needs to make it now or else lose everything.

I waited a long time for The Crown of the Desert, and you can imagine how high my anticipation was. Tamsin is the perfect protagonist. She is determined, has a goal, and has the power and the brains to achieve that goal. I was expecting tension, drama, action, and perfection, and I got them all. The tension was so thick I could feel it and loved it till the end. The cliffhanger, the struggles, and the subplots all worked toward giving readers a complete theatrical experience. I love Tamsin’s growth and how confident she is. While Tamsin has my heart, I loved Georgiana’s growth and how well she handled her predicament. Lord Urbane and Emilia’s chemistry is fantastic. I am now anticipating the reunion between Tamsin and Haven. Also, I am forever grateful to N. L. Willcome for providing a pronunciation guide! I highly recommend this series to fans of epic fantasies and young adult fiction.

K.C. Finn

The Crown of the Desert is a work of fiction in the fantasy and adventure subgenres and forms the third novel of the book series titled An Empyrian Odyssey. It is best suited to mature young adult and adult readers and was penned by author N. L. Willcome. As we continue the adventures of Tamsin after the events of "The Dark Solstice" and "The Hour of Embers", the stakes are even higher as an ancient enemy linked to the appearance of outcasts in the desert rears its head. Danger looms for Tamsin and her friends far across the sands as the Master’s power rises, but Tamsin is also facing a surge of new and unexpected power of her own.

Third installments in a fantasy series have to offer a massive upswell of action and high-stakes drama to really sell their apocalyptic concepts, and author N. L. Willcome certainly delivers tons of that in Tamsin’s third rip-roaring adventure. Tamsin herself is a powerful central hero to the tale, but I also really enjoyed the storyline with Emilia and Lord Urbane, which was intricate and subtle against the action-packed scenes elsewhere. The dialogue was also a huge standout feature for me, because of the clever balance of delivering unique characterization and also key plot points so that the text itself is not overwhelmed by exposition-style prose. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend The Crown of the Desert to fans of the existing series, and the series in general to fantasy fans looking for heartfelt, well-developed characters, exciting worldbuilding, and a superb magical world filled with tension and high-stakes adventure.

Asher Syed

The fantasy An Empyrian Odyssey series that began with The Dark Solstice and The Hour of Embers returns with The Crown of the Desert by N.L. Willcome. Tasmin Urbane understands what she must do to save everything she knows and cares for. Too much has already been lost to evil and too many more will likely die. Evil comes in the form of Monstran and his clawing, hissing, snapping beats. He lies to stoke fear and stamp violence into the hearts of leaders so they turn against each other instead of him. Tasmin fights for her people, her allies, her friends, and herself by harnessing the power she holds, passed down the line by her ancestors. Monstran does not act alone and is submissive to his own master, who has taken over the person she cannot imagine losing. In addition to all that Tasmin fights for that would bring a reprieve, she will also have to fight for the mortal soul of the immortal emotion she has: love.

“Hers will be the fury…
Hers will be the judgment…
Hers will be the choice…
Hers will be the tide that changes the forces of earth and moves Gods and queens.”

The Crown of the Desert by N.L. Willcome is an evenly-rounded young adult fantasy that ticks all of the important boxes. Love and prosperity are themes needed for readers of the genre who demand there be a fierce but relatable main character to tackle both. Tasmin is valiant and feels like an authentic heroine because she isn't perfect but is smart and capable. Tasmin's coming of age happens organically over the three novels and fans of this series will be pleased that the book ends in a way that will guarantee a smile. Lord Urbane, who is Tasmin's father, was a star player in The Crown of the Desert. He didn't take up the same page space other characters do but his development was on par with Tasmin's. I'm a father myself and I will be the first to admit that fathers and daughters will always have their own battles, perhaps not against demon beasts and gods, but with matters of the heart and wanting to wrap them up in a safety blanket. Willcome does right by the emotional connection and emotional disconnect. Very highly recommended.

Jamie Michele

The Crown of the Desert by N. L. Willcome is a fantasy fiction series and the third book in the epic An Empyrian Odyssey series, preceded by book one, The Dark Solstice, and book two, The Hour of Embers. This installment picks up with the main protagonist Tasmin Urbane, whose journey as a Lady, a leader, and for the survival of entire populations, lay in front of her as thickly and dangerously as a beast. Or, as it turns out, an entire army of them. The continuity of Tasmin's arc presses forward and culminates as readers who have joined her on her odyssey and will carry on doing so, from Jalsai, from Empyria to the marshlands, from the mangroves to the islands, the Ravine to the anasii hada. Tasmin is the she-hunter desperately searching for Haven and staving off the destruction of two groups who have the strength to succeed if they align themselves. But Tasmin is also the hunted, viewed as god-like by many, she is the ace that Monstran, who has his own god-like ambitions, wants to strike down. The cards he has to play are the deadly creatures he commands and one other that he knows Tasmin will be unable to refuse.

N. L. Willcome has crafted a fine fantasy adventure with multiple point-of-view characters and some excellent tension in The Crown of the Desert. The novel starts strongly and the momentum is consistent throughout the story. There are some very real surprises with Haven's fate being among one of the biggest. Tasmin is a strong, likable character and the acceptance of who she is, despite the fact that she would prefer to be anything else, is part of her character's growth, particularly as new powers are discovered and the unfurling of her family history—everything that led her to this—is methodically unpeeled a layer at a time. The writing is good, if a little on the unpolished side, but given that Tasmin herself is raw and uninhibited and that Willcome keeps the pace steady it is still easy to be wholly absorbed by the story. I have not read books one and two but this did not prove to be an obstacle as the dialogue goes a long way in filling in the backstory. Overall, this is a solid read and a wonderful bit of autumn escapism.

Pikasho Deka

The Crown of the Desert is the third book of An Empyrian Odyssey series by N.L. Willcome. Following the events from The Dark Solstice and The Hour of Embers, this book opens with Tamsin, the newly made Kaz'ma'sha of the Ma'diin, who wants to rescue the Horn Breaker Haven from the Ravine of Bones. Meanwhile, Cornelius Saveen strengthens his hold over Empyria, with Georgiana Graysan determined to bring him down at all costs. As Lord Halbany betrays Lord Urbane on behalf of Cornelius Saveen, Emilia Regonar may be Urbane's last ally on the Council. In the desert, Tamsin becomes aware of a greater threat that could be the ruin of everyone and everything. With the stakes getting ever higher and an old ally aligning with the foe, is Tamsin ready to make the necessary sacrifice?

Fans of epic fantasy rejoice! The Crown of the Desert is set to take you on a journey featuring grand sweeping landscapes, epic battles, and magical creatures from your wildest nightmares. Although this is epic fantasy, the multiple POV narrative, and atmospheric setting remind you of Dune. Just like Frank Herbert's tale, N.L. Willcome's third installment of An Empyrian Odyssey consists of lots of political maneuvering, switching alliances, and a sprawling desert that is a key aspect of the story. Every character and faction has compelling agency to their motives and actions, and the convergence of these factions and characters creates plenty of dramatic moments. I absolutely loved the book and can't recommend it highly enough.