This is one of my all-time favorite books. It has everything a great book must have - great writing, fantastic dialogue, very well developed characters, and intriguing and unpredictable plot.
First, the writing. I think Sherwood Smith is one of the most talented contemporary fantasy writers. Sadly, she is often overlooked. Her writing has no fillers, every sentence seems to be either adding to the story or to the character.
The heroine in this book is Meliara, a future countess with a broken down and impoverished land holdings. She and her brother made an oath to their farther to protect their land and its treaty against the agenda of the king of Remalna. This becomes their struggle. And Meliara's adventure. She proves to be a fearless and loyal heroine. She's considerate of others, acting with good intentions, but driven by ignorance. Her antagonist, Shevraeth, one of the King's minions, is intent on bringing her down. He proves to be a worthy opponent.
The plot evolves slowly and with precision. There are no unanswered questions at the end. It just fits perfectly together.
A must read for anyone!
This is a prequel to Crown Duel/ Crown Court.
DO NOT read it before Crown Duel/ Crown Court as it will be a major spoiler.
I really enjoyed rediscovering Vidanric. His before-Mel world is certainly quite the opposite of what everyone has suspected it to be. I think this book gives a reader insight into Vidanric that wasn't possible in CD/CC. This book is basically a journey of how Vidanric becomes a man that we meet in CD/CC. And it's a fascinating journey.