The citadel has long been the stronghold of Highkell. All that is about to change because the traitor, Vasic, is marching on the capital. Against her better judgement, Queen Alwenna allows herself to be spirited away by one of the Crown’s most trusted servants, safe from the clutches of the throne’s would-be usurper.
Fleeing across country, she quickly comes to learn that her pampered existence has ill-equipped her for survival away from the comforts of the court. Alwenna must toughen up, and fast, if she is even to make it to a place of safety. But she has an even loftier aim – for after dreaming of her husband’s impending death, Alwenna knows she must turn around and head back to Highkell to save the land she loves, and the husband who adores her, or die in the attempt.
But Vasic the traitor is waiting. And this was all just as he planned. (synopsis from Goodreads)
I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGally in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Overall Impression: An exciting new fantasy series with an awesome female protagonist that is compulsively readable.
Recommended for: Fantasy fans. Fans of strong female protagonists.
I knew I was going to like this book from the very beginning. It’s well written, and the characters are developed quite nicely. It starts with action rather than a bunch of exposition about the events leading up to what is currently happening and world development. Instead, the book begins with Alwenna being sent away by her husband with his trusted King’s Man, Weaver, who is an immediately intriguing character. Weaver is obviously less than thrilled about being assigned to this task as he wants to stay behind and fight in the oncoming battle. However, his dissatisfaction in his king’s decision seems to stem from more personal reasons, and Susan Murray does a good job of keeping his reasons a mystery until the opportune moment.
When we meet Alwenna, she is a woman who has been pampered for her entire life who suddenly has to rough it through the wilderness (against her wishes) in order to escape the clutches of the usurper, Vasic, whom her husband fears will take over the kingdom. However, despite Alwenna’s cushy upbringing, she rises to the occasion, and time and again proves herself to be more than capable of taking care of herself when push comes to shove. Alwenna never shies away from a challenge, and never expects someone to save her. She insists that she be taught how to build a fire and properly de-feather, gut, and cook a chicken in case she ends up not having any servants to take care of her. (Which happens at various times throughout the book.) Not only does she insist on learning these things, but a couple of the things she learns become important later. This was refreshing since some books tend to have their heroes spontaneously gain skills when they are needed. Not the case here. It was well thought out, which made it that much more fun to read.
The plot moves at just the right pace, keeping it exciting while also allowing some time to develop Alwenna and Weaver as characters. This makes it really easy to become invested in the outcome since you actually know them well. I never felt like it was dragging and it was difficult for me to put it down. I almost missed my MAX stop on my way home because of this book. It’s totally engrossing, which makes this book go by pretty quickly, and leaves you wanting more.
I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out, and will be anxiously awaiting the day! I need to know things! Also, the cover is pretty cool. Just saying.