Formulaic fantasy-romance enlivened by an innovative take on dragon treasure.
After a childhood marked by her mother’s hatred and her father’s beatings, which scarred her legs but not her heart, 16-year-old Sorrowlynn, like every Faodarian princess (evidently white and generally blonde and blue-eyed, aside from light-brown–haired Sorrowlynn), must pledge her willingness to marry a barbaric Antharian prince to save their countries from the fire dragon (a pact whose origin only nominally makes sense). When she refuses, she, with handsome Antharian horse lord Golmarr, must face and defeat the dragon to survive. The dragon’s treasure is knowledge; killing the dragon transfers to Sorrowlynn everything the dragon and his centuries of victims ever knew. The remainder of the novel includes a few set-piece adventures, kissing, much banter about lustful feelings, and finally facing another dragon, whose treasure is hatred. There is little to make this stand out; Sorrowlynn’s journey is the standard girl-power arc done better by such authors as Tamora Pierce and Kristin Cashore, foreshortened by the magical knowledge dump; Golmarr (of the “long black hair” and skin like “caramel-colored silk”) is the classic (exoticized and problematic) noble barbarian, whose darker-skinned people are in touch with the earth and their feelings. Oh, and it’s first in a series.
Skip. (Fantasy. 12-16)