Lips meet, hearts blaze, blood gushes and kingdoms clash in this thoroughly predictable Song of Ice and Fire wannabe.
Chucking in requisite elements—a magic ring, crystals with “ultimate power,” a vague prophecy about a chosen one, hidden Watchers, societies frozen at a medieval level—“Rhodes,” otherwise known as paranormal romance author Michelle Rowen (Vampire Academy: The Ultimate Guide, 2011), centers her tale on teen characters in three adjacent lands who are swept into savage conflicts of both hearts and politics. Showing particular fondness for cut throats the author splashes both opening chapters and climactic battle with sprays of gore as, in between, impulsive Princess Cleo of Westeros Auranos falls in love with her hunky bodyguard before setting out incognito (in courtly dress) to wander impoverished villages in search of magical healing for her dying older sister; merchant’s son Jonas of Paelsia turns revenge seeker burning with hatred for the royals who murder his brother; and Prince Magnus of Limeros wrestles with “forbidden feelings” for his sister Lucia—whose growing magical powers make her the centerpiece of their bloody minded father’s schemes of conquest. Several of the sympathetic characters in the teeming cast suffer sudden death or at least inner strife that settles out in different ways, but all are recognizable types and any secrets they harbor are either telegraphed or clumsily manipulated to heighten romantic tension. The sex is all implicit or offstage, and even the hint of incest turns out to be illusory.
For readers who find George R.R. Martin’s epic too much, here’s considerably less. Sequels are certain. (Fantasy. 13-17)