A prince replaced by a double must reclaim his identity.
The crown prince of Akram, Javan Samad Najafai of the house of Kadar, has spent the past 10 years at Milisatria Academy fulfilling his mother’s dying wish. In his absence, a rebellious faction of aristocrats is slowly poisoning the king, and they plan on taking advantage of his addled state by replacing Javan with Rahim, the illegitimate son of the king’s cousin. Javan thwarts the attempts on his life only to have Rahim’s father identify Rahim as the true prince. Javan narrowly escapes execution but is sentenced to the Maqbara, a prison where prisoners are forced into gladiatorial combat against all manners of creatures and monsters for the viewing and gambling pleasure of the aristocracy. Pious, honorable Javan is horrified by this miscarriage of justice and by what’s happened to his kingdom. He sets out to win the tournament to gain an audience with the king and prove his identity. He gains a reluctant ally, then friend, in the warden’s slave, a pale-skinned girl with a secret. As they struggle for their respective freedoms, their evolution from friends to more is romantic and compelling. The action scenes are inventive, as are narrative moments from Rahim’s perspective. In a change from previous Ravenspire settings, Akram is Arab-coded (a sensitivity reader is thanked in the acknowledgements), but there are unobtrusive references to the other books.
An exciting, entertaining series companion. (Fantasy. 12-adult)