REVIEW: A Lion’s Pride by P.L. Stuart

A Lion's Pride

Last Updated on February 11, 2024

A Lion’s Pride is the fourth volume in P.L. Stuart’s Drowned Kingdom Saga, which is inspired by the mythology of Atlantis. The events of Book Four are destined to change everything for our protagonist, Othrun, the former prince of a sunken island kingdom who has established a new realm on foreign soil. I will keep this review completely spoiler-free for readers who have not yet started this excellent grimdark fantasy series, which began with A Drowned Kingdom and continued with The Last of the Atalanteans and Lord and King.

A Lion's PrideA Lion’s Pride introduces a new point-of-view character, Rupaa, a feared pirate and warrior who offers a third-person perspective from another culture. Although I am inherently resistant to the incorporation of new point-of-view characters this late in a series, P.L. Stuart ensures that the investment pays off well with an earthshattering reveal later in the book.

Soon we are back in familiar territory with Othrun’s first-person narration, where we spend the vast majority of the novel. No worries if it’s been a while since you’ve read Lord and King: P.L. Stuart naturally immerses the reader back into the story, catching us up on key events from the first three volumes.

I’m not sure if the seven volumes of the Drowned Kingdom Saga are meant to align with the Seven Deadly Sins, but if they did, Book Four would certainly be dedicated to lust. A Lion’s Pride is a spicy book, with Othrun pursuing several romantic entanglements against his better judgment.

Othrun is a walking contradiction: nominally a prude but unable to resist temptations of the flesh. Despite his own misogynistic views, Othrun seems inevitably drawn to strong, independent women. However, I think the more interesting question is why these women—all possessing powerful magic—would be attracted to a man who is so condescending toward them.

With this heavy focus on Othrun’s lustful pursuits, A Lion’s Pride feels a bit off balance compared to the previous volumes of the series, especially since Othrun’s dalliances are described in explicit detail, too much for my own tastes. Fortunately, these plot lines are interwoven with plenty of political intrigue as well as questions about Othrun’s lineage and claim to the throne.

Given all this court intrigue, A Lion’s Pride feels like the most Arthurian installment yet in P.L. Stuart’s series, with Lysi playing the role of the seductress witch, Morgan le Fay. With his penchant for self-sabotage and internal contradictions, Othrun embodies the dual role of both Arthur and Lancelot.

Religion continues to be a dominant theme throughout A Lion’s Pride, with Othrun believing he is on a divine mission to convert pagans of his adopted land to the monotheistic beliefs of his Single God. Othrun’s religious intolerance is on full display throughout the novel. The cultural clashes and political maneuverings eventually culminate in an epic battle scene toward the end of the book, which had me on the edge of my seat.

Although Othrun is a despicable and frustrating character, I do believe he is on a slow redemption arc. One of P.L. Stuart’s overarching themes is the power of redemption: anyone can change for the better, even those who seem beyond hope.

Overall, A Lion’s Pride cements Othrun as one of the most complex and well-realized grimdark protagonists in recent memory. P.L. Stuart has certainly earned his stripes as one of Grimdark Magazine’s Rising Stars in Dark and Grimdark SFF. The Drowned Kingdom Saga will continue with A Pack of Wolves, the fifth book of Stuart’s planned seven-book series.

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John Mauro

John Mauro

John Mauro lives in a world of glass amongst the hills of central Pennsylvania. When not indulging in his passion for literature or enjoying time with family, John is training the next generation of materials scientists at Penn State University, where he teaches glass science and materials kinetics. John also loves cooking international cuisine and kayaking the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

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