Afflicted by magic, a young woman is not quite herself…and is unsure of who she wants to become.
Sixteen-year-old Kestra Dallisor returns to the royal Antoran court, now (reluctantly) the Infidante: the prophesized wielder of the Olden Blade, potential destroyer of evil Lord Endrick, and thus, savior of the Banished (Halderian) people. When an assassination attempt goes awry, Lord Endrick—the Dominion leader and last known Endrean magic user—meddles with her memories and remakes her into an obedient Ironheart. Uncertain of her loyalties and love interests, Kestra must decide if she will rejoin the Corack rebels or rekindle her relationship with Simon Hatch, once a servant and now revealed as the Halderian heir. Repetitive political machinations, melodramatic lovers’ miscommunications, explosion-filled action sequences, and requisite romantic triangles ensue. Unaffected by the magic, co-narrator Simon provides a more logical perspective and linear counternarrative, but amnesia essentially (frustratingly) resets Kestra’s journey. Nielsen’s (Resistance, 2018, etc.) generic fantasy setting—pre-industrial (barring the evildoers’ tech), vaguely Northern European—unevenly explained magic, and obligatorily odd fantasy beasts are standard, stale fare. Kestra and Simon are presumably white.
A serviceable sequel that establishes obstacles for the young lovers to overcome in the next installment but contributes little else. (Fantasy. 12-18)