Updated: Jan 6
Ashley-For those of you that don't have a book buddy, we need to change that. This is a book that I was glad to be able to have my other friends to talk to about the things I did and didn't like. Sarah and I usually get together on Mondays for our girls' day; however, Sarah is in Disney World with her family right now. We try to stay around the same page; that way, we can thoroughly discuss the things we've read. We did get to do that last Monday, but this week we finished the book. We strung together a couple of sentences about our thoughts and feelings on the end. I can't wait till we can talk more about it in person, though.
So for the no spoilers part of what the book is about. For those of you who have read Cinda William Chima, you may know that the Shatter Realm Novels are about Raisa and Hans children. This book starts 25 years later after Han and Raisa's end. We begin in the POV of their child, Adrian sul'Han, aka, Ash. Ash is a great healer, especially of horses. He goes into hiding when some tragic events happen. He is hell-bent on getting revenge on an old familiar villain that we know from the Seven Reals Novels, the king of Arden. Yes...that bastard is still alive.
Next, we jump into the POV of a girl named Jenna, who has her tragic backstory. Not only has she grown up in the poverty of Delphi, but she also watches her two young friends get murdered by the king of Arden. If that wasn't enough, she has a magemark on the back of her neck (a spiderweb of metal with a smooth stone at the center). She's had it since she was born. Come to find out, unbeknownst to her; she is being hunted because of it.
Now let's get into some SPOILERS------------------------------
Alright, so, wow. The beginning jumps straight into some things we might not want to hear. For one, Raisa and Han produced three children. Hannah, who died with Amon's son Simon, six months ago at the age of 20 at the border of Tameron. The horrible Marin Karn, who works for the king of Arden, severed her head. We learn that she most likely killed herself once she realized she was in a losing battle. She did not want to get taken captive. We did not get to meet her. The second child is Ash, and at the start of the book, he is only 13, but soon the book jumps ahead four years, putting him at 17. The last child is Alyssa, who, at the beginning of this book, is 11.
So, let's jump into something that Sarah and I both did not like. Han straight gets killed in the first chapter...as Ash is being attacked, his father tries to save him but ends up getting slashed with a poison blade. So, yeah. Han survived how much crap in the Seven Realms series to go out like that? I could have accepted his death more if it had been more dramatic. But it was rushed and dumb, honestly. Sarah and I had a small debate about this. She thinks he's legit dead, whereas I think maybe he put his soul in his serpent amulet that he hands off to Ash before he "dies." After reading a blog by Cinda, it sounds like he is lost for good. Instead of going back to Raisa, he runs off to Oden's Ford. Orders from the king of Arden have now killed his sister and father.
Now we jump into Jenna's perspective. She was 12 and worked in the mines with her two friends. As the king is talking to the miners of Delphi, someone does something to disrespect him. Since nobody owns up to the disrespect, he decides to kill Jenna's 7-year-old friend, Maggie. In doing so, Jenna flings herself at the king and punches him. In trying to protect Jenna, her other friend Riley is murdered. Jenna has to end up faking her death, so the king doesn't come after her. She poses as a boy from then on and joins a group called the Patriots that want to take down the king of Arden.
Alright, so now for the four years later bit. Ash is at Oden's Ford. There's a girl he's acquaintances with named Lila, who ends up saving him from getting murdered by Darian priests. They find out that his mage blood scent is why these priests are hunting him.
We go on a fun ride as Ash manages to make his way to Arden. First, he starts in the stables. Then after heroically saving a baker from fire and healing him, the king lets him into the palace to become a healer, though he collars him (as he does all mages that he allows to participate in Arden.) Not only that, but we find out his friend Lila works for the king, but only as a ruse. I did not see it coming that she was one of Amon's children who were sent to keep watch over the prince. Although I am a bit sad because it sounds like my favorite from the Seven Realm series, Amon, has had it rough. He is a widow. His son Simon has died. His late wife's family raised his other two children. WTH!
Onto my favorite character from this series. Destin Karn!! I immediately took to him, even though he is the son of the atrocious Marin Karn. Something about his personality captured my attention. Although he works for the king, you can tell that he's not pleased about it. Also, I like it when he gets to Delphi and doesn't put up with crap from his superiors. I appreciate that he sticks up for the waiting staff.
Yes, Destin Karn got sent to Delphi to look for Jenna. The empress Celestine has asked the king of Arden to help find this girl. A reward will come to the king if he does. Long behold, he cannot find Jenna due to her pretending to be a boy. Of course, that gets ruined when an a-hole (he doesn't mean to be an a-hole) tale spinner named Hamish comes to a tavern and starts questioning the owner, Will, about how his daughter is doing. This grabs Destin and Clermont's attention because they didn't know the Will had a daughter. They've made all the women cut their hair so they could see their necks, and still have had no luck in finding the magemark girl. This part gets intense and upsetting.
We know that Jenna was adopted and that her grandmother had been her only surviving relative at the time. When her grandmother gave her to these adoptive parents, she told them that people would hunt for the girl, and they needed to protect her. When Destin starts questioning Will about his daughter, he freaks out. He wants to protect her. As Clermont pulls out his blade, Will rams himself into it, perishing. My heart went out to this father, who loved his daughter so much. Unfortunately, his death was in vain. Lyle, a fortuneteller, begins attacking Clermont, killing him. Destin had met Lyle before and was curious as to how he couldn't be a mage like himself, yet be able to know some of the things he does. Lyle is also resistant to magic. Destin finds out that Lyle is, in fact, Jenna. Jenna uses her blood sworn Carthis blade to stab herself. She would rather die than be taken.
Destin takes Jenna back to Arden, where he has Ash, who is known as Adam Freeman, heal her. Ash also notices that Jenna is resistant to magic. Luckily Ash can treat her, but in a turn of events, a barrier comes down, and they see each other's past during the linked healing process. I'm assuming this link allowed them to connect because otherwise, the love interest happens ridiculously fast. The only thing that would make sense as to why they almost instantly fell in love was that link. At least, I hope. If not, then the author rushed this part dramatically.
Through Jenna's imprisonment, she begins to hear voices asking for her help. Someone is saying they are somewhere dark. At one point, she has a dream about being a dragon.
The King of Arden becomes paranoid at so many failed attempts on his life. When Evan Strangward comes, sent by the empress for the girl, the king is rightfully anxious.
The empress has sent many things for the trade of Jenna. One is a young, sick dragon. The king is only mildly impressed. What he wants is the army she promised. Until the king gets the military, he doesn't want to trade the girl.
Jenna knows she doesn't have much time before she is traded off. She convinces Ash and Lila to blow up Strangwards boat, with the promise that Ash will do whatever he can to save the dragon. As Ash is making his way to do that, Destin sneaks Strangward and some of Strangward's men to Jenna's room. Strangward wants to know what the empress wants with her. Of course, as she had told Destin before, she doesn't know. Jenna does have some peculiar gifts. She can see hints of the future. She's resistant to magic. She can hear better than most people. She can also see better than most people. There are times Jenna can tell if someone is lying. Also, she heals quickly. She had explained to Destin in the past that she is immune to fire, in which he tested the theory. She was able to put out a fire with both hands, never getting burnt. Her skin turns armor-like whenever flame touches it.
Even though Jenna and Strangward both feel a sense of familiarity with each other, they don't believe they have met. When Strangward doesn't get any useful information from Jenna, he decides it would be better if they killed her. Before Strangward can make a move to do that, Jenna throws an oil lamp, setting the room on fire.
As this book has different POV, it should be mentioned that Lila and Ash are successful, after fighting priests that come aboard the ship, in igniting the boat and blowing it up. Only, of course, after freeing the dragon which flies off. And where does the dragon fly? To Jenna!! Yes, as suspected, she is, in some fashion, a dragon-person. She can communicate with the young dragon. He/she had been the one talking to Jenna. The dragon flies off with Jenna.
When Ash gets back, he immediately makes his way to Jenna's room, obviously seeing that something is very wrong. He is left to think she is dead after not finding her. Alright, so guess what happens?? The king of Arden, who has not moved without being heavily guarded, appears behind Ash and pushes him through the rumbled wall. Ash has no choice but to cling for his life. Since no attempt of the king's life had started until Ash got there, he blames him. In their confrontation, Ash admits that he is not Adam Freeman, but in fact, Rasia's son. What sucks is the king doesn't hear Ash say this. I think it would have been an awesome slap of realization to have to happen. Anyways, queen Marina, who the king was god awful to, lights him on fire and pushes him from the palace, saving Ash's life. It comes into light that she had been the one attempting to kill her husband. Ash and Lila decide to go back home.
We move on to the epic epilogue, which involves Strangward (Sarah's favorite character!!) We find some cool stuff out about him, such as he has a magemark too!! Not only is Jenna being hunted by this empress, but he is also. He never wanted the empress to get her hands on Jenna.
For the best part...what is up with Destin and Strangward?? Could these two guys be an item?!?! Strangward is left saying that he wishes Destin would kill Marin Karn, move, and be happy. We find out that Destin and Strangward have been working together. I'm very pumped about this!! The only book where a character I love and a character Sarah love has been together was in Captive Prince. No joke, I'm excited to see what happens next.
Alright, one more thing. I still don't know why Ash's hair is red when Han had blond hair, and Raisa had dark brown?? There were two editing mishaps in the book. This is more comical than anything. I wasn't mad, but it did give me a good laugh. Once when Ash and Lila were talking, poor little Lila gets labeled as Lisa, haha. And the best part is that when referring to Destin Karn, they accidentally have it written as Karen.
Sarah- Hello All! Yes, I was in the lovely Disney World. So much fun, and now it is Monday. I have a bad case of the Monday blues. Anywho! I think our lovely Ashley summarized this so much better than what I could. But here is my review! Apologies for any repeated comments.
So I am giving this book a 3 out of 5 mostly due to the writing style. I'm not sure if I was just in a funk for the first half, but the second half at least picked up for me. But with how quickly Hans is taken out in the beginning and then how quickly the love interest takes place seemed very elementary. There seemed a lack of depth in both sides. I understand the death led him to his chosen journey, but it lacked any emotion and as a person who just read the first half of the series, for Hans to be taken out so easily .....cmon.....hes high wizard for crying out loud...... Not to mention how many editing mistakes there were. I didnt notice but my friend pointed out how names were different at times ( Jenna becomes Karen suddenly) and the fact that Ash has red hair like his father......last I checked Hans had blonde....
There were some nice surprises thrown in though. Like about Amon, even though I feel he got the short end of the stick, it's still neat how his daughter comes into play. And the addition of Evan let me have a favorite character to get excited about.