- Page Count: 506
- Release Date: October 6, 2009
- My Rating: 4 stars
Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell—the thick silver cuffs he’s worn since birth. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.
One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.
Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her…
The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.
THIS WAS SO FUN! It was close to 5 stars, but it took me a bit to get into the story.
I tend to avoid the more “adult” fantasy books (I hate differentiating between YA and “adult” books with those stupid terms, but work with me here) because there are so many unnecessary descriptions and characters. I just want something concise, fun, and not terribly serious. I was a little concerned in the first 100 pages of this book that it would turn out to be a bunch of worldbuilding with characters I wouldn’t really connect with, but then it turned into something REALLY fun! So if you like YA fantasy books, don’t judge this one until at least halfway through. The worldbuilding was a bit tedious, but I ended up loving the history of the queendom’s bloodline, the wizards, and the clans!
I picked this book up because one of my Goodreads friends liked a guy in it, but then the whole time I was like WHICH ONE IS HE?! There were 3 potential love interests, but none of it felt like a love triangle or instalove or anything and the romance isn’t the focus of the plot. This whole book was mostly setting the stage for the rest of the series, so I’m glad I like all of the characters and relationships at this point.
As far as characters go, Raisa is strong-willed and a bit naive, but means well. I’m totally hoping she become some badass warrior princess/queen in the sequels. Micah has Darkling potential but also might be a total idiot with no backbone? I feel like Amon needs more character development but his storyline with Raisa is still my favorite so far. Yes, the whole trope of the guard in love with the princess is overused, BUT this one works. I also super appreciated that the characters had actual deep thoughts and insights into the situations around them instead of just breezing through their world like they’re on some checklist of a plot.
The story is mainly told through the POVs of Princess Raisa and this ex-streetlord kid Han. I wasn’t a huge fan of him at the beginning because his story dragged a bit, but then he turned out to be straight up adorable! He was raised by the clans and meets up with Micah, Raisa, and Amon at various points, but still kind of has his own thing going until the direction of everyone’s storylines ties together at the end.
Otherwise, the writing and execution and everything are perfectly average. Nothing impressive, but nothing to complain about either. I like some other YA fantasy series a bit more, but I’m really excited to see where the sequels go for this one!