The first installment in Edun’s (Sworn to Ascension, 2015, etc.) Courtlight series presents a rags-to-riches tale in a fantasy setting.
Orphan Ciardis Vane possesses little ambition in life beyond survival. She works for a pittance as a laundress in the small town of Vaneis and hopes to marry only for the stability a husband would offer. So when the alluring Lady Serena invites her to train as a companion, Ciardis barely hesitates. In Vaneis, companions are seen as “women with loose morals,” but Serena paints a tempting picture of comfort and power. After traveling to the city of Sandrin, Ciardis joins the Companions’ Guild and begins training in several subjects, including dance, defense, manners, and practicals. Ciardis is determined to succeed as a companion, for if she fails to attract a patron’s attention, the guild will expel her. But complications arise when Ciardis discovers she is the last member of the Weathervanes, a family renowned for its ability to enhance others’ magical powers. This revelation drastically increases Ciardis’ standing but also puts her in danger. All is not well in Sandrin, and Prince Sebastian needs her help to unlock his magical gifts and restore prosperity to the realm. To aid him—a prince in danger of being deposed—could mean disaster for Ciardis’ prospects. But if she rejects his plea, the world may be thrown out of balance forever. A promising supporting cast surrounds Ciardis, a likable protagonist, though few side characters are developed to their full potentials. Edun’s magical system is complex and creative, if at times a little puzzling. (For example, how does one learn to read if one has already been magically given that ability?) Similarly, mentions of nightwolves and other mysterious creatures promise a larger game afoot. In contrast, the political makeup of Ciardis’ world remains blandly European, populated by princes and dukes, and adds little to an otherwise engaging premise. Still, a satisfying conclusion and a well-crafted hint of romance should keep readers interested for the next installment.
An inventive premise and unpredictable plot twists set the stage for more adventures in this enchanted world.