Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Egmont USA and Netgalley.
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Richly-imagined fantasy romance from the author of Princess and the Hound, a tale of two princesses--one with magic, one with none--who dare seek love in a world where real choice can never be theirs. For fans of Megan Whalen Turner, Catherine Fisher, and Cassandra Clare.
Ailsbet loves nothing more than music; tall and red-haired, she's impatient with the artifice and ceremony of her father's court. Marissa adores the world of her island home and feels she has much to offer when she finally inherits the throne from her wise, good-tempered father. The trouble is that neither princess has the power--or the magic--to rule alone, and if the kingdoms can be united, which princess will end up ruling the joint land? For both, the only goal would seem to be a strategic marriage to a man who can bring his own brand of power to the throne. But will either girl be able to marry for love? And can either of these two princesses, rivals though they have never met, afford to let the other live?
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Egmont USA and Netgalley.)
Ailsbet is a princess. Her father is the king of Rurik, and her mother the queen, and she also has a younger brother called Edik.
Marlissa is also a princess, in the neighbouring kingdom of Weirland. Her mother died when she was younger, so she has been taking over the responsibilities of the queen for several years.
Both girls live in a world where there is magic. The magic typically comes in two forms - neweyr which is about life and growth and typically goes to females, and taweyr which is about war and death, and typically goes to males. Those who have no magic are called unweyr, and those who have the wrong magic (ie: a female who has taweyr) are called Ekhono.
In Rurik, th Ekhono are killed, or if they can escape, they leave the kingdom. King Haikor of Rurik also dislikes neweyr, and has banned its use in his palace. He only appreciates taweyr, and takes taxes of taweyr from all the males in the kingdom.
Ailsbet is unweyr (has no magic), and Marlissa has neweyr (as expected of a woman).
King Haikor of Rurik has long had his sights set on taking over Weirland, and sensing an opportunity, sends one of his men to Weirland to request the betrothal of Princess Marlissa to his 13-year-old son Edik once he comes of age. The King of Weirland accepts, and Marlissa journeys to Rurik for the betrothal.
Things are not as they seem in Rurik though. The queen is poisoned, Marlissa is reprimanded for using her neweyr in the palace, and Ailsbet discovers that she does have magic after all, just the wrong kind. If the king finds out he will kill her so she must keep it a secret.
What will become of the two kingdoms? Is there any truth in the old prophecy about a child who has both neweyr and taweyr? Will King Haikor gain control of both kingdoms with the marriage of his son Edik to Princess Marlissa? And what will become of Princess Ailsbet if her secret is revealed?
This was an interesting fantasy tale of princesses and magic, and the secret politics going on in two nearby kingdoms.
I was a little unsure of this book in the beginning I have to say. The explanations of the different kinds of magic, what they could do, who was supposed to have them etc. was non-existent, making this story very confusing at the start. I was also a little confused when only a few pages into the book, we are told this about Princess Ailsbet – “she woke early the next morning, relieved to find herself in her own undergarments”. What?! Who else’s underwear would she be wearing? Not sure if this is a mistake and will be removed from the final edit, or whether I have missed something, but this was a little strange!
Anyway, this book picked up somewhere around the half-way point, when I had finally managed to work out what the hell was going on, what all the different terms meant, and what it was that the princesses were striving for.
Both of the princesses were fairly strong-willed which only got them in trouble. They both had ideas of what they wanted, and what was important, but being princesses, and female, they were rarely allowed to act on these ideas, especially as King Haikor would just as soon decapitate someone as listen to an opposing view point.
I did enjoy this book, and I did learn to appreciate the fantasy world that they girls lived in, although most of this story was concerned with politics. I did find it interesting to try and work out how the girls would solve their problems, and how things would work out in the end, although ultimately it seemed that the girls had very little sway at all.
I did enjoy this more than most fantasy books, probably just ‘cause I liked the story about the princesses, but the world and the magic were very poorly introduced to the reader, and the princesses lack of control over their own lives and destinies was frustrating. The romance element was pretty non-existent, unless you see romance in arranged marriages where the male is only 13-years-old.
Overall; I did enjoy this book, but I would say that it is more about the princesses lives and the politics of the kingdoms than the fantasy element or the romance.
7 out of 10.