A smoothly written religious fantasy enlivened by fiery antagonists.

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Human kingdoms foment war as rival deities consolidate power in this fantasy novella.

Seventeen-year-old Rune Kallio lives in the northern kingdom of Kansanai. One day, she washes clothes by the river, singing songs to Jokaiu, the river god. Rune’s deepest desire is that during the Pairing Ceremony, Jokaiu will match her with Jyri Glycen, her beloved. But Adda, the teen’s 14-year-old sister, has a dream that the world will catch fire only for Rune to save it as “princess of the heavens.” Further, the dream nymphs whisper to Adda that Aivan, the mythological god representing “the One Truth,” will sponsor Rune’s ascent. Meanwhile, in the southern kingdom of Etalentin, 17-year-old Rolf Larsen heads to the local temple to pray to Vesai, one of the Vihishki gods. As he prays, he hears Aivan say that Vesai is a “false god” and that “I am not in the temple. I speak to you now through your heart.” Later, a village Elder sends Rolf to the court of King Petri with a message. When Master Alviss, the king’s adviser, learns that Rolf knows limited magic, he determines that the teen, if properly trained, will be the key to defending against the designs of Queen Isilda in the north. But Lord Paholai, a spirit who is Aivan’s opponent, plans to wield greed and power to sway Rune and Rolf to his plans. In this well-crafted series opener, Green offers a spiritual fantasy that hopes to illustrate the starkness of good versus evil. Yet many of the vivid scenes will remind history buffs of ancient Rome during Christianity’s rise, as when a man called Kirkus says, “I challenge your Vihishki gods against my One Truth,” and demands the temples’ destruction despite the solace they bring to many people. During his training, Rolf is indoctrinated by the phrase “Love is nothing. Power is everything.” It’s noteworthy that the intriguing protagonists are young enough to be swayed by such extreme viewpoints. Many important narrative choices are made once characters “Pray to Aivan for guidance.” Queen Isilda, learning that her clout is at risk, becomes the player with the most agency and provides the spark for the sequel.

A smoothly written religious fantasy enlivened by fiery antagonists.

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64960-136-0

Page Count: 124

Publisher: Emerald House Group, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022


Warm and wonderful.

A prequel to the popular cozy fantasy Legends & Lattes (2022).

Viv is a fighter. It’s not just what she does, it’s who she is. So when she gets wounded during a battle with a necromancer’s skeletal wights, and her crew dumps her in a small seaside town to recover while they continue on after the necromancer, she is not happy about it. But soon enough, against her will, she’s drawn into the life of the town. There’s Fern, the unsuccessful bookseller, who has a knack for recommending exactly the right book. And there’s Maylee, the baker, who not only makes the world’s best baked goods, she actually winks at Viv. Before Viv knows what’s happening, she’s helping Fern out here and there, she’s reading—she’s involved. Meanwhile, there’s a pesky young gnome asking for an introduction to her mercenary crew, and a mysterious man in gray who looks like trouble. But Viv is leaving when her crew comes back through town. No matter what. This prequel gives readers a glimpse of Viv as a young orc, still committed to the fighter’s life, just taking an enforced break in a charming town populated by compelling, richly drawn characters, and the slightest hint of danger in the wind. Despite the lurking necromancer, the vibes are decidedly warm and cozy, and the plot is just as much about saving the bookstore and building relationships as it is about protecting the town from the man in gray. As a prequel, it can stand alone, but will certainly satisfy fans as well.

Warm and wonderful.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781250886101

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


A wonderfully enjoyable series opener.

YA giant Clare makes her adult debut with a whirlwind epic fantasy featuring secret plots, ancient magic, and hidden identities.

The nobility of Castellane know Kel only as Prince Conor’s aristocratic cousin and closest confidant, but a select few know the truth: Kel is an orphan plucked from obscurity because he bears a passing resemblance to Conor and proved able to handle being trained as Conor’s “Sword Catcher.” A Sword Catcher has all the typical duties of a bodyguard, but Kel’s responsibilities also include wearing a magical amulet that makes people think he’s Conor, allowing him to take the prince’s place at public events when the palace head of security deems it too risky for the prince himself. But when Conor becomes old enough to consider marriage, Kel learns that it will take more than hidden daggers to protect his charge. On the other side of Castellane society is Lin, a young woman who is a member of the Ashkar, a small community that's forbidden from living outside their walled community. The Ashkar are the only people who can still use magic, and even though using or even learning about most kinds of magic is banned, they are still feared and discriminated against by the rest of the world. Lin has worked hard to be allowed to study medicine even though she's a woman, but when her medical talents aren’t enough to help heal her best friend, she wonders if the answer lies in the study of forbidden magic. The tangle of political disputes and shadowy plots that leads to Kel and Lin crossing paths is not only thick enough to make the several hundred pages fly by, it will leave readers eager for a series full of twists and turns. Clare expertly balances the needs of a satisfying plot with dropping tantalizing hints of what’s to come in future installments. Her worldbuilding is instantly immersive, and the many characters are all detailed and memorable, so swapping between storylines flows easily for the reader.

A wonderfully enjoyable series opener.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780525619994

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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