The king is dead, his queen is missing. On the amber coast, the usurper king is driving Zavonia to the brink of war. A dangerous magical power is rising up in Biela Miasto, and the only people who can set things right are a failed bodyguard, a Landstrider witch, and the assassin who set off the whole sorry chain of events.
Valdas, Captain of the High Guard, has not only failed in his duty to protect the king, but he’s been accused of the murder, and he’s on the run. He’s sworn to seek justice, but his king sets him another task from beyond the grave. Valdas doesn’t believe in magic, which is unfortunate as it turns out.
Mirza is the healer-witch of a Landstrider band, valued and feared in equal measure for her witchmark, her scolding tongue, and her ability to walk the spirit world. When she’s given a task by Valdas’ dead king, she believes that the journey she must take is one she can never return from.
Lind is the clever assassin. Yes, someone paid him to kill the king, but who is to blame, the weapon or the power behind it? Lind must face his traumatic past if he’s to have a future.
Can these three discover the real villain, find the queen, and set the rightful king on the throne before the country is overcome?
Jacey Bedford has created an intriguing and solid fantasy that works on several layers. One of the elements that feels fresh is the multiple perspectives. Not only do they add different points of view but those voices aren’t typical. While Valdas, Captain of the Guard, is the typical soldier that we normally see, his willingness to learn from those around him and his willingness to listen to women is unique in many fantasy novels. Mirza is an incredibly strong character, one that allows us to have magic but also gives a fresh perspective on the Romany people, and might allow our modern world to see them in a more truthful light. Finally, we have Lind, the assassin, who is such a broken character that typically would be the villain in any other book but in this story, he ends up being not only a catalyst but also a changed man. While we meet some characters that are standard to a fantasy but others are unique. That is part of the joy of this novel.
The plot is another part of what works well. Again, it begins as a standard fantasy but then ends up developing intrigue and mystery. The political insight makes for an unusual story but what makes this plot so compelling is the twists and turns, the magic and a stunningly original conclusion that makes for a very satisfying story and completely engaging. It will certainly keep people up long into the night reading.
If you love fantasy, magic, mystery and intrigue with unusual characters, this is the novel for you. It is epic and thrilling. While there are three different points of view, it is easy to track each voice and the way each thread works together to tell the story and keeps you engaged in the novel. You will not be able to put this novel down.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 deaths.