Top critical review
Did not live up to its promise
Reviewed in the United States on October 8, 2021
Wonderful opening chapters in the Kindle sample seduced me into buying this immediately instead of waiting three months in the queue to borrow it from my public library. But the rest of the book felt more like a pastiche of brainstormed episodes rather than the smooth tapestry Mercedes Lackey usually weaves — I actually had to walk away from reading several times, instead of reading straight through the night to the end as I usually do when one of her books comes out. _Beyond_ (released June, 2021), about the founding of Valdemar, was much better, _Jolene_ (released December, 2020), is one of her all-time best, but _Briarheart_ feels like one project too many, crammed in between all the other projects — five new works, five rereleases, and a short story collection — Ms Lackey has scheduled for release in 2021 and 2022.
Finally, I bought this despite it being advertised as a “fresh feminist retelling” of anything. If the story cannot stand on its own, adding political propaganda will not save it. And if it can, why drive off half the potential audience by shoving the writer’s personal politics in their faces? Not to mention that imbuing the female lead with slyness, dangerous impulsivity, and emotional self-indulgence is about as anti-feminist as any male chauvinist could want.