Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: From author for review
An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure
Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow...
But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.My thoughts:
With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land... before it’s bathed in blood.
I really enjoy Sarah Beth Durst's work and was excited to get this one, especially since I had the next ready once I finished it. I was not disappointed with this addition to her work and I really enjoy this author's imagination.
This is mostly a story about Daleina who doesn't exactly want to be queen but be an important part of protecting her realm. Her magic is different than the others as well as weaker, but her determination makes up for the rest. She also seems consumed by her quest and being simultaneously pushed and supported by her sister she forges ahead. In the end she makes several life altering decisions including who she wants to be in this world, but plans never work out the way we intended. She is forced into another decision and that leads us to the end of the first book. A satisfying ending but still not a completely happy one either.
I should also mention some of the other secondary characters who really enhance the worldbuilding and play nicely off our heroine. None are perfect but their imperfections really make the character. Ven is an interesting character we know we will see again but I have to say my favorite was Bayn the wolf. I won't explain more about that character, you will just have to see for yourself.
While I would consider this one to be YA, I think adults would also enjoy this fantasy. The worldbuilding is unique and I really am curious about the spirits they rely on and fear. It is a interesting mix of emotions and precarious trust (and total lack of trust) between both. It also leads to many questions about this world that aren't answered here but the lack of those answers aren't frustrating as we are learning as the characters learn.
I give this book 4 stars and I highly recommend it everyone. I really think it will appeal to those that enjoy fantasy and a unique world. It will make you crave the next book.