Marton (Last Spy Standing, 2012) returns with the tale of a woman limited by social expectations who nevertheless stays true to herself.
Born to a legendary healer in peaceful Shahala, young Tera looks forward to her powers manifesting. Before they can, she’s sold into slavery and sent to the warrior nation of Kadar, the same nation that abducted her mother many years ago. Thus begins a journey that will lead Tera to the brink of war and the path of destiny. When High Lord Batumar’s brother, Gilem, is held captive—drugged by concubines Kumra and Keela so they can elevate their social status by becoming pregnant with his child—Tera rescues him. Batumar is charmed and takes Tera as his concubine, allowing her to travel to the Kadar capital and the Forgotten City. There, Tera hopes to unravel the mystery surrounding her mother’s death. Although Tera’s actions occasionally feel forced in order to advance the plot, her experiences and reactions are compelling and honest. The overly long novel is at times predictable, starting out stronger than it ends, but Marton excels at worldbuilding and character development. Tera’s friend, Onra, is particularly memorable; content to accept the role society prescribes her, she never questions the fairness of being born a slave who will become a concubine. Additionally, the romance between Tera and Batumar will appeal to many readers, although the relationship that develops between them would be more credible if it had been built over time, based on deeper interactions. Readers may find it difficult to grasp how much time has passed, which can lend a disorienting feel to the events that occur. Despite the book’s flaws, however, readers will find it impossible not to care what happens next to Tera.
It’s impressively easy to become immersed in Marton’s fantasy world.