A sweeping epic of love, war, family loyalty, duty to one’s queen and revenge.
Leyna Evantine hides in a chest while someone murders her mother and others. She escapes and, in order to support her childhood friend, Reina, fakes her age and finds acceptance in Siscal’s military. Her commanders, Thade and Feolan, quickly champion her. After Leyna saves the lives of Thade and the Prince, the army inexplicably sends her to finishing school, where the former soldier is taught to become a lady. After an encounter with the Prince, she runs away and finds herself once again in service to the queen, working undercover with Thade and Feolan—despite their objections. As a hero, Leyna is too obtuse: It takes her too long to figure out the identity of Thade, the man she has a crush on, although the reader figured it out a good 600 pages earlier. Also, Leyna’s loyalty doesn’t extend beyond the queen: She discards others without a second thought. The end comes together a bit too conveniently, wrapping up the family issues without fully exploring them. Still, this is a good bit of escapism, and if the twists and turns don’t engage the reader, the sharply delineated characters will. It’s inevitable that a book this long will have spots where the plot lags; Leyna’s enslavement checks the pace. Because her captors treat her more like a servant and since there’s little information gleaned, this section of the book lacks tension. The ending war also drags on too long and even begins to strain credulity. Closer attention to word choice and sentence structure would tighten the prose. Once all is wrapped up, the only parting question becomes how Leyna will adapt to a life lacking all the battles, mystery and intrigue of her youth.
A grandiose, caffeinated tale that could use additional editing.