Aisling, a weaver’s apprentice, meets Rùnach, a simple soldier, on a quest to find a swordsman to save her homeland; but even sheltered Aisling can see that Rùnach is more than he pretends, and the more time she spends with him, the more she realizes that the world is not as she's been told—and neither is she.
When Aisling of Bruadair is forced into a quest she didn’t ask for but must complete under pain of death, she finds an expansive, magical world she never dreamed existed. Weak and vulnerable, she catches the attention of a wounded hero right out of the storybooks of myth and legend, scarred-yet-handsome Rùnach, who takes her under his wing and guides her from one grand, mysterious location to the next. While he claims to be a simple soldier, he has pretty manners and inexplicably knows rulers and leaders in each venue. But as one who must guard her own wealth of secrets, she is loath to demand he share his. Nonetheless, as they journey from one awe-inspiring destination to another, searching for answers to continually mounting questions, Aisling understands that there are people who would see her companion dead. The most recent segment to the popular Nine Kingdoms series, this book pairs an unassuming, naïve heroine with an elven prince who is healing from deep injuries. The story and the characters are compelling from the first page, and as Aisling and Rùnach grow to trust and depend on each other, devotion blossoms into a sweet, quiet love. A complicated, magical world is the backdrop for this fantasy romance—in-depth fantasy, low-key romance—but Kurland’s superb writing, entrancing storytelling and vast imagination keep us tuned in and engaged. A rather abrupt ending is a great introduction to the next book but a vaguely unsatisfying resolution to this one.
An intriguing, delightful romantic fantasy with epic fairy-tale elements; fascinating, well-drawn characters and vibrant descriptions of magical situations and locations reinforce a vivid, enchanting narrative.