I can’t be very disappointed with Sharon Shinn, but I can be a little.
Dialogue that sounds rehearsed, as if being read aloud from a history book. Characters that blend into one another. Actions and responses that seem lifted from previous stories.
It’s as if her heart wasn’t in this book the way it was in Archangel, Angel-Seeker, and the Shape-Changer’s Wife. I fear all her other work will always come short of these titles; but, I wish, not this short.
The plot is fine enough, though, easily sustainable to several sequels. From whispers, rumors of a mystic Queen manipulating the King’s heart and actions have grown to fuel a religious fervor against so-called children of the devil. The Daughters of the Pale Mother and a few Southern Houses have taken advantage of religious fanaticism and political ambition to stir up thoughts of war. The King has charged his trusted Riders to protect the mystics, led by Fire-starter Senneth, as they scout out the lay of the people’s loyalties, especially among the 12 noble Houses.
In that journey, mystics and riders rescue a boy who can sense thoughts and emotions and a legendary raelynx, discover the atrocities committed in the countryside in the Pale Mother’s name, and form a camaraderie—and more than camaraderie between Senneth and a Rider—that could hold the key to Gillengaria’s ultimate fate.
There are lots of interesting elements here. I just didn’t look forward to seeing more of the same Sharon Shinn characters just clothed by different names under a different setting. I hope this dismal characterization is just a fluke, and would be corrected in future volumes.