In this medieval tale, the conflict between two rival kingdoms escalates over an ancient prophecy.
Vanyar, a shape-shifter, former soldier, and drunkard, has just been tossed from a tavern in his native land of Bryn’Cairdha. On the grimy streets, he’s soon confronted by a Centaur named Malik, who runs King Roidan’s secret task force, the Weksan’Atan. He informs Vanyar that he's to sober up and rejoin the Atan as second-in-command for a special mission—or go to prison. Vanyar eventually agrees, and he travels with a contingent of Minotaurs, Griffins, Centaurs, and Shifters to rescue Princess Iyumi from her vile kidnappers near the border of the northern kingdom, Raithin Mawr. Meanwhile, in Raithin Mawr—where magic and monsters are forbidden—Prince Flynn is tasked by his father, King Finian, to find Iyumi, marry her, and fulfill a prophecy that will supposedly eradicate magic and join the two nations in peace. The situation is more complex than either side knows, for Iyumi, herself a prophetess, sees that a baby plays a key role in uniting the kingdoms. When she’s trapped in a cave by Raithin Mawr forces, she suddenly falls ill. Will Vanyar be able to help, or will the ghosts of a botched military action catch up with him? Rose (Prince Wolf, 2016, etc.) crafts an excellent stand-alone adventure from some of the fantasy genre’s most tried-and-true components. Her prose, wry in tone and comprised of long, loping paragraphs full of physical and emotional description, is pitch-perfect. Some lines find beauty in the story’s violence, as when Flynn kills someone and “his spirit fled to the folk who kept count.” Rose frequently uses slang to garnish the dialogue, not oversell it (Iyumi says, “Bite me, Vanyar”). Further connecting with modern audiences, she casts the violent behavior of Raithin Mawr citizens who blow people up as terrorism—and then cleverly draws the narrative to a point by which such acts are unnecessary. Tucked within is also a first-rate romance, making the characters that much more unforgettable.
Behind familiar fantasy trappings await a marvelous adventure and a vibrant love story.