This is a book that has, pretty much, found me. And I’m really glad for it, because it went straight into my favorites even before it was finished.
And when I say the book has found me, I mean it quite literally. Back in Summer 2019, the author offered me a beta swap. The description looked like something right into my bookish tastebuds, so I went for it.
Since the beta version, the book changed little – but it didn’t really need much more – just some clarifications and such.
So now, on to the book itself. After a short prologue happening some time in the past, the book starts on quite a low point for Aodhan, the MC, who had just lost his father a month ago and is not to take up his mantle as the lord of his province. The way you see him concerned about the responsibilities and making another major step – marrying the woman he loves – makes him easy to cheer for.
And then, a stranger gifts him a long-lost legendary sword, which may as well turn the political balance upside down.
On the other side of the fence is a small group of a characters: Nicholas harrington, a king struggling with years of grief for wife that died in childbirth, sliding into obsession with bringing her back to life. Isabelle, a mysterious sorceress with her own story (which is explored in a series of flashbacks that eventually connect that backstory with her present motivations). And William, an expert swordsman who is recognized by many of the people around but not really by his own family, wishing to prove himself.
It’s this trio of characters that eventually drives the story. Their motivations are understandable and they can be sympathized with to a degree – it’s not what they want but what they’re willing to do (and how) that pushes them towards the dark side.
And while there are hints from the beginning, it’s only when the story get close to one of the major goals that the Shadow vs. Light conflict gains more prominence – and shows why a simple (and understndable) wish of a grieving king can have a major consequences.
Then, the book moves towards a finale that closes some parts of the story while leaving enough open for the sequel.
Now, to close this review: If you’re looking for a great character-driven fantasy, this book is definitely worth giving it a try.