Princess Ailsbet is considered unweyr, without the gift of neweyr that brings life and beauty expected of women or any weyr, like the taweyr of men expressed when hunting or in anger. Her father Haikor is powerful in his taweyr, and rules Rurik with an iron fist. But when Ailsbet discovers a dangerous secret about herself, will she be able to protect the ones that she loves?
Princess Marlissa of Weirland has a duty and responsibility to marry Prince Edik of Rurik, a young man 5 years her junior in hopes of uniting the estranged Weirland and Rurik, and fulfilling the prophecy that will bring them together again. But her heart is not with her betrothed, and she is falling for the daring ambassador from Rurik who has secrets of his own.
Ailsbet and Marlissa are like two sides of a coin, different as can be, but also so similar. Ailsbet is worth little more to her kingdom than as a bargaining chip for marriage, infamously unweyr, her father expends his energy focusing on his son, mistress, producing another heir, and controlling his kingdom. Her father engages her to a flatterer that has his eyes on her father's throne, while Ailsbet fights to hide who she really is, and help her brother become the king he was meant to be. But as Ailsbet finds her strength, she realizes that the future that she had once resigned herself to, isn't set in stone and she has the chance to break free. Of the two princesses Ailsbet is my favorite, she is clever and logical, she sees her father for what he is, and clearly sees the deception and fearful power he holds over his kingdom. She is a natural leader and sees her father in herself more than she would like, I love how she finds herself in this book and her fierce love for her brother.
Marlissa lost her mother at a young age and took on the responsibility of leading the neweyr in Weirland, but in order to secure safety for her kingdom she pledges to marry Edik and travel to Rurik to learn their ways. Issa has a quiet strength, she loves her people and her father, and knows the weight of duty. She struggles to face her future, in love with one man while pledged to a boy. I liked her sense of loyalty and duty to her people.
Kellin is perhaps my favorite, he is mysterious, yet noble beyond reproach. He is willing to sacrifice everything for his country, and the hope for a brighter future. He is ever the perfect gentleman, he has strong beliefs and ideals. I liked his admiration for Ailsbet, and how he sees her strength even when she doesn't see it herself. The only thing was that I didn't really see his relationship with Issa as being quite as strong as the book portrayed it, I guess I just didn't see them being there yet.
Overall, this was a spellbinding tale that transported me into the world of weyrs and the people who were willing to fight for who and what they loved. I was sad to find that as of yet no sequels have been released and there is no news of any sequels beyond short chapter length prequels and concurrent stories. I loved the melding of emotions that the author brought to this story in this tale of crowns. I think that I was most surprised at how much I actually admired Edik at the end, and how he truly did begin to come of age throughout the story, my feelings towards him went from pity, to disgust, to admiration. I hope that this is not the only novel in the series that there will be a conclusion, because this book ended with so many questions unanswered. Great start to a series, and I hope that I am able to read it's conclusion.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."