Zoe Ardelay, having recently lost her father, is so grief-stricken that when she is approached by a member of the five families that abandoned her father, she follows in his wake, aimlessly uncaring. However, as her emotions awaken she realizes she cannot do this man’s bidding to become a fifth wife to the King and restore balance to the kingdom. But Darien is hiding many, many secrets, and his purposes in retrieving her are many — some are even personal. The limited world Zoe knew is about to expand and become about change, evolution, growth and purpose and she is not nearly as content as she thought.
This is one of the most rhythmically, fluid and beautiful stories I have ever read. Shinn masterfully succeeds in creating a completely new world and yet maintains this essential lyricism of tone, voice, and plotting that is simply brilliant. Her pacing is so swift I refused to put the book down, even in sleep, and nearly forgot to rest! But more than all of this, she has many of the characteristics of some of the best classic fantasy writers on the planet and may outshine more than a few. Think Marillier without too much tragedy, Lackey without the dragons, and epic in just one book — not for page counts, but for the impact of the content.
Yes, this book is a stand-alone, (just under 400 pages) but my hope is that she will come back to this sooner rather than later and turn it into a series. It is so beautifully written and even though she closed out the story for the main characters, I could see in my mind’s eye several books that could be sequels featuring some of the king’s heirs, members of the five families, or even the regency with Darien and Zoe constantly at odds, shaping this fantastical world. The only thing wrong with this novel is that it ends. I feel as though someone yanked a rug out from under me. That breathless moment when you realize you are falling is what I felt the moment I read the last page, a moment of sheer terror-stricken panic. Please bring back these characters, Ms. Shinn, they are a gift to anyone who reads them.
- Reading level: Ages 18 and up
- Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Ace (July 31, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1937007707
- ISBN-13: 978-1937007706