An ordinary woman discovers her extraordinary lineage and travels to an enchanted world to fulfill her destiny in this fantasy novel.
Taryn enjoys living in London with her beloved grandfather Brandt and helping him on his archaeological digs. She finds her life upended the day Brandt tells her that he’s taking her home. She discovers to her surprise that home is a world called Aelinae (“Another planet, actually,” Brandt says. “One of beauty and wonder”). But before he can explain more, he’s murdered during an altercation between two men, Zakael and Rhoane. Before Brandt dies, he tells Taryn to stay in Aelinae with Rhoane. Hoping to avenge Brandt’s murder, Taryn follows Rhoane and learns about the mythology of Aelinae and the story of Kaldaar, whose practice of the black arts led to his banishment and the exile of his brother, Rykoto. (Rhoane tells her that “Kaldaar had been sent to the edge of nothingness.”) After she saves the life of Hayden, Marquis of the Valen province, she learns about her powers, referred to as ShantiMari, and her true heritage. These discoveries draw her into a world of deceit and conspiracy in the royal house of her mother, Lliandra. The palace’s assorted figures include Taryn’s duplicitous sister, Marissa, and Herbret, a minor nobleman whose desire to wed an innocent newcomer named Sabina masks hidden intentions. Soon Taryn will confront a threat more dangerous than Zakael, the plot to bring Kaldaar back to Aelinae. Epic in scope, Etherton’s (The Darathi Vorsi Prince, 2015, etc.) sprawling narrative offers a rich abundance of action, magic, and schemes, anchored by strong major figures and complex supporting characters and villains. Taryn, a likable and feisty heroine, grows even more dynamic as she assumes her new powers and adjusts to life in Aelinae. While not initially romantic, her relationship with her protector Rhoane offers just the right amount of tenderness. Rhoane clearly loves Taryn, but he doesn’t want her to feel obligated to reciprocate his feelings. Although several subplots threaten to overwhelm the vibrant central storyline, the novel includes a helpful list of characters and a glossary so readers can get their bearings in the enthralling world of Aelinae.
A densely packed narrative that moves along at a brisk pace thanks to an appealing heroine with special powers and plenty of intrigue.