by Shari Lambert
After a three-year siege, Lord Kern, the dark mage, is dead. Magic has left Tredare, and life is almost back to normal.
For everyone except Maren, that is.
Before the siege, an attack by Lord Kern left Maren near death and with a sliver of magic buried deep inside her. Now, for reasons Maren doesn’t understand, that magic has been triggered, giving her the ability to “see” the truth: that her world is nothing more than a magical façade; and that the kingdom’s hero may not be a hero at all.
But this gift of sight comes at a high cost. Maren is in constant pain, and fears her own death is imminent. Plus, no one believes her suspicions that another Dark Mage has risen, and that Tredare may be in just as much danger as it was when Kern was alive.
With the country’s future in the hands of a man who’s vowed revenge on its king, Maren must convince someone else of the truth. Unfortunately, the only person powerful enough to help is also the one man she can’t trust; the man she almost married; the man who abandoned her and disappeared for three years: Kern’s son.
As Tredare crumbles around them, Maren must persuade him to help - before the king is murdered by the very hero he reveres; and before the same magic that gives Maren the gift of sight also takes her life.
I was looking forward to reading this one after seeing the blurb and wasn't disappointed. Packed with castles, magic, swords, princes and evil wizards, this is the type of book that makes fantasy fans' hearts beat a little faster.
The main character, a teenage girl named Maren, is a very good friend to the king and queen, and after going through a period which almost destroyed the kingdom, her support is something they treasure greatly. She's ready to give her all to save her friends. . .at times, almost too much so. . .and draws the interest of several gentlemen's glances. Beautiful, well liked, and trusted, she seems to have a perfect position. She's easy to like, and I had no trouble feeling for her and rooting for. I even cringed in several spots and almost hurt for her. Still, there were a few moments where I wanted to whack some sense of self-preservation into her. But only a couple of times, and every main character needs a weakness.
This is a fast-paced novel, the kind that grabs from the first page and refuses to let you go until you reach the end. There are dark secrets, unclear intentions and mysteries which kept me wondering what the truth really was and how the characters would manage to solve everything in the end.
I especially found the bad guy well done. He's evil to the core and ruthless, the kind that you can really hate and love doing so.
There is romance weaved in as well, but it's a very challenged one and slips in nicely with the dark plot. By no means does it take over the story, but still remains a tight part of it.
The only frustrating thing I found in this book was the fact that it felt like it was the second or third in a series. A lot happened before this story gets going, and although the author dribbles the information in bit by bit, I always felt like I'd been dropped in too late in the game. There is a short prequel to this book, and I highly recommend reading that before diving into this one. Still, I personally would have loved to see an entire first novel and really believe that it would have added a lot to the story and characters.
Summed up, this is definitely a good read, the kind that keeps one up until late in the night and has one wishing for more.