Review: A Jewel Bright Sea (Mage and Empire #1) by Claire O’Dell

This book had a lot to recommend itself….pirates, adventure, magic, romance, fantasy. So many things that made it sound like a fun book to escape into.

I also thought the cover was pretty, though a little on the busy side. But ultimately I thought the promise of adventure and pirates sounded like a winning combo so picking up this one up when the time came, was full of promise for me.

I haven’t read anything by O’dell before but I know she has written a couple of other books that are part of a series, so I was curious to see what her writing style was and how the magic and pirates situation came together in this one!


It was her talent for tracking magic that got Anna Zhdanov sent to catch a thief. A scholar’s daughter sold as a bond servant, she has no desire to recover the Emperor’s jewel for herself. But a chance to earn her freedom has driven her to the untamed Eddalyon province, awash with warm breezes, lapping waves, and more danger than she could possibly guess.

Within days her cover as an indolent noblewoman is in question, and it’s clear there’s more to Anna’s task than she knows. Soon she’s the captive of the unpredictable pirate captain Andreas Koszenmarc, hunted by the Emperor’s guard, besieged by a brigand queen, and at odds with her only friend. She must trust someone if she is to survive. But when all that’s certain is that everyone is hiding something, it’s no simple thing to choose (summary from Goodreads)


This book had a lot more political intrigue than I expected. Not that it was a bad thing at all. I enjoyed navigating the politics of this world and the characters in it, though at times it could be a little on the confusing side. I did have to pause a few times to recall what was happening and why. I also felt like the reader was told a lot about things rather than being shown so sometimes that made reading a little tedious.

But what I did enjoy was the chemistry between Anna and Andreas, though it was clearly meant to be a secondary plot, I kept reading so I could continue to enjoy their budding romance. It has a slow burn quality to it though I hoped it had a little bit more time to simmer. I know that some readers felt that their romance was a little bland but for me I enjoyed it and the sexual tension was great for a secondary plot as a little something extra.

There is quite a bit of adventure and of course the pirates in this book as promised! I thought that added pizzaz and fun to the whole book. At times it might have felt like the author was trying to incorporate a little too much into this novel, but I didn’t think that it was over done or too over the top. I actually thought it blended together rather well.

Overall this book was ok for me. It was good but needed a little more organization for me to be great. It has all the right ingredients but needs a little more structure to bring everything it wants to do about for the reader. That said I ended up giving it 3 stars since I did enjoy the world, politics, and romance.

Book Info and Rating

Kindle Edition
Published September 3rd 2019 by Rebel Base Books
Free review copy provided by Kensington Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: fantasy


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