This fantasy novel is easy to read and generally quick moving, which I appreciate given the short periods of reading time allotted to me by my lifestyle. The world was well thought out and made more and more sense as the story continued. I think the author did a good job of leaving questions unanswered without resorting to the 'I'll tell you when you're ready' crutch, and of revealing things as the story progressed. My favorite parts actually were the flashbacks that start a little later in the book. I kept wanting to get back to them to see what was happening. I did figure out who people were early on, though I'm not sure if I was supposed to, or not. The writing was good, and I don't remember being distracted by awkward sentences or typos.
My complaints about the book involve the romance, and I understand that other people will see it completely differently, but this is me and what I think. So, at first I understood why the two characters liked each other, but their 'insta-love' (lust) never turned into anything more for me. I never felt them growing together as people, I only saw that they were more and more attracted to each other. Somehow this led to undying loyalty and obsession, despite our heroine's insistence that it could never work out and the fact that they were doing everything in secret. There's a kind of long erotic scene that's easy enough to skip over if you don't want to read it *raises hand to be counted* that really felt too early in their relationship at the time, but then later I felt like any time in the book would have been too early. Again, I never felt like they loved each other, only like they had a mutual fetish. I admit that I'm a real stickler when it comes to this, and have a fairly narrow idea of what I want things to be like if I'm going to read something with romance in it. I knew going into this book that there would be some romance, but I had hoped it would be a subtle addition and not overshadow other parts.
The tensions in the book rely mostly on internal and romantic elements rather than the fear of physical danger, which didn't bother me (except for the romance part) but might disappoint you if you're looking for a fantasy with a lot of adventure, fighting, and near death experiences. Not to say that things don't happen, they do, there just aren't a lot of run ins with trolls and things like that. The heroine has a lot going on with family, being born of an enemy nation, and trying to fit into a new life, and that helped her feel like a real person, albeit an real person with magical powers. The only thing that struck me as odd was how mature she seemed. She wasn't yet in her twenties and had grown up very isolated, but she seemed pretty world-wise. I would have expected her to be a bit backward. Nevertheless, I found her a likable character because she was generous and willing to do what needed to be done.
Violence: There's some beating people and some fighting, but I'd say less violent than most fantasy.
Sexual Content: Far too much for my taste. At first it's just thought about, but it quickly turns into more. Romance doesn't have to be about sex. Still, I will give credit because the book didn't turn into an excuse for erotic scenes, if that makes sense. I've started and quit a couple of books that felt like the storyline was a frail frame for holding together the sex scenes, but that wasn't the case here. After the 'big scene' it steers away from descriptions.
Language: Unless I forgot, there isn't any foul language. My apologies if I missed something.
Over-all Message/Plot: The plot was well formed and I enjoyed working up to the resolution, but the infatuation elements weakened it for me. I would love to see book two being focused on what is happening in the world and leave the main characters' relationship in a distinctively lesser role.
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Find it here.