A debut novel, the first in a planned series, which seamlessly weds the love story of two women to a traditional fantasy tale.
Kaitra, a disgraced princess of the Kingdom of Dhoya, is a young initiate at the Temple of Shaylan. She’s powerful but untested, and her plans to leave the temple to hone her abilities are interrupted when armed men attack and kill her mentor and fellow apprentices. She escapes, in part, through the intervention of Kidreyli, a Valtyr swordswoman. Kidreyli’s skills help them find safety in a nearby village, which is protected by mysterious powers. The village and its elders, Cliona and Eirran, offer safety and healing, as well as unexpected visions of dark forces and the possible futures of both women. The visions in this story are cleverly used; it’s refreshing to see a character taking concrete steps to avert specific dangers instead of treating a vision as a vague warning. A warlord named Satreka has enlisted the dread Sorcerers of Jhanvia to bring about the rebirth of an ancient threat, but before the women set off to face him, they find the time to fall in love, master archery (“You will need to become an expert archer by dawn,” Kidreyli says) and practice several techniques of sorcerous battle. The speed with which this happens is a bit distracting and lends a false note to the otherwise sweet relationship between the two characters. All the ingredients for an intense love story are here—conflict, disapproving parents, and so on—but the ease with which most of these hurdles are cleared smacks of wasted potential. Nonetheless, the women’s relationship is welcome in what might otherwise have been a predictable fantasy epic.
An ambitious, daring love story set in a standard fantasy plot that has yet to reach epic heights.