A queen and her young daughter are forced to separate and go into hiding when a corrupt politician tries to take over the kingdom.
Queen Cressa of Weirandale is worried about her 8-year-old daughter, the “princella” Cerúlia. The people of Weirandale worship a water spirit, Nargis, who grants each queen a special gift called a Talent. Cressa herself is able to meddle with memories, for example, and her mother possessed supernatural strategic abilities that served her well in battle. Cerúlia, however, appears to have none, because surely her insistence that she can talk to animals is only her young imagination running wild. When Cerúlia’s many pets warn her about assassins creeping into the royal chambers, the girl is able to save herself and her mother. Cressa uses her Talent, which actually extends to forcing anyone to tell her the truth, to root out traitors among the aristocracy, led by the power-hungry Lord Matwyck. Fearing for her daughter’s life and her own, Cressa takes Cerúlia and flees. Thinking Cerúlia will be safer away from her mother, Cressa takes the girl to a kind peasant family and adjusts their memories so they believe Cerúlia is their adopted daughter. Kozloff’s debut is the first of four Nine Realms books, and Tor plans to publish them over just four months. Luckily, the series opener is a strong start, so readers will be grateful for the short wait before Book 2. Kozloff sets a solid stage with glimpses into other characters and nations while keeping the book together with a clear, propulsive plot.
A new series starts off with a bang.