Multiple perspectives reveal the story of several people—and a kingdom—in turmoil.
Khosa is the Given, destined to sacrifice herself to the sea for the sake of her kingdom. Her village attacked, she escapes Pietra leader Witt and his hordes for the royal city so she can do her duty. There, she meets Vincent, third in line to the throne, as well as his adopted Indiri siblings, Donil and Dara. Both Vincent and Donil fall for fragile Khosa, but it’s Donil who captures her affections—the only person whose touch doesn’t repel her. Meanwhile, fierce Dara has feelings for Vincent but knows a speckled-skinned Indiri can never sit the throne with him—and, as one of two of the last of her race, she is obsessed with finding another Indiri male. But this book isn’t just about love triangles (or squares): themes of duty and fate are thickly woven into the fabric of this tale as each character grapples with balancing moral obligation against desire. With the present-tense narration rotating, in first person (for Khosa and Vincent) and third (for Witt and Dara), among the members of the deftly drawn cast, readers see how they all deal with this tension differently—and credibly, until the rather arbitrary climax. This is an immersive, violent fantasy world (rape is attempted in the novel) with a white default.
This well-paced, thoughtful story will have readers eager for the sequel. (Fantasy. 14-adult)