Publication date: 11 January 2022

Rating: 3/5 stars

Category: Romance, Fantasy, Adult, Adventure

Pages: 1299

Publisher: DAW

Source: Netgalley

Trigger: rape, grooming, fantasy violence, murder

Hello Readers, welcome back to my blog.


The king is dead, his queen is missing. On the amber coast, the usurper king is driving Zavonia to the brink of war. A dangerous magical power is rising up in Biela Miasto, and the only people who can set things right are a failed bodyguard, a Landstrider witch, and the assassin who set off the whole sorry chain of events.

Valdas, Captain of the High Guard, has not only failed in his duty to protect the king, but he’s been accused of the murder, and he’s on the run. He’s sworn to seek justice, but his king sets him another task from beyond the grave. Valdas doesn’t believe in magic, which is unfortunate as it turns out.

Mirza is the healer-witch of a Landstrider band, valued and feared in equal measure for her witchmark, her scolding tongue, and her ability to walk the spirit world. When she’s given a task by Valdas’ dead king, she believes that the journey she must take is one she can never return from.

Lind is the clever assassin. Yes, someone paid him to kill the king, but who is to blame, the weapon or the power behind it? Lind must face his traumatic past if he’s to have a future.

Can these three discover the real villain, find the queen, and set the rightful king on the throne before the country is overcome?


The king is dead and we follow the story from 3 very different people and their perspectives after the death. The first is Valdas, captain of the King’s High Guard but he was not on duty when the King died of poisoning. He is being hunted for the alleged crime of killing his King and he has sworn vengeance for the King and his soldiers that were wrongly killed. The second POV is Mirza’s, a witch and healer of a band of wanderers. She is fighting for her place as Shulam in her community. The third POV is that of the actual assassin that killed the King, he is looking for a way to escape his crimes.

The magic system is so subtle that it is non-existent at the beginning unless you are reading from Mirza’s POV that is where most of the magic is spoken about which makes sense since she is the magical one in the group. Valdas complaining about the horse that was given to him for his journey was just plain hilarious, his relationship with the horse that looks like a donkey was the highlight for me.

Dear author, no one has skin “black as midnight”. I felt my eyes almost permanently lodge at the back of my head from eye rolling. Authors need to learn how to describe people of colour and how it introduces the character to readers, not just adding descriptions that do not make any difference to the plot. And when you describe the person of colour in their introduction also describe the Caucasian person in the introduction of that character. Don’t just say the Zavonian and the black Ethiop woman, why define her by her colour and not just her country of origin like the Zavonian?

Nonetheless, my first attempt at adult fantasy hasn’t been too disappointing. Now I know the difference between Young adult and adult fantasy. The brutal scenes are explicitly described in such vivid detail that it disturbs you, although I have read some YA that were explicit as well but the difference is clear. Which it should be I guess because the Adult world is not shielded from horrors.  I liked that the story was a slow build up and the end was the continuation of life and making the best with what you have.

I give 3 out of 5 stars. It was well written but some things drove me mad, for example the description of people of colour in the story just plain pissed me off and I couldn’t get over it most of the story. It was too slow in build up for my personal preference but that doesn’t take away the fact that the slow build was excellently done and would be appealing to other readers. It was a great adventure.

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