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Jun 30, 2019forbesrachel rated this title 3.5 out of 5 stars
Is a saint truly saintly? Is a monster only monstrous? For Nadya, a devote follower of the Kalyazin gods, and the hope of her people, this used to be an easy question to answer. But when her home is destroyed, and she decides to help one of those monsters kill the rival nation's king, doubt spreads, especially as her feelings for this young tormented man develop. Counter to this, is the perspective of Serefin, a prince, and deadly magic user of said nation, who begins to feel dejected about the never ending war, and the suffering of his people. When he returns home, matters are even worse than he suspected though, for his own father, and the ravenous Vultures have their own schemes in mind. Quick thinking, cooperation, and a little bit of magic are all that stands in the way. Duncan has created a solid premise, with some well-founded magic systems. Certain plot points do come out of left field, and the rapid progress of the plot, do make some of the character developments unearned though. Whereas many authors would spend time on the "tournament", this one gives only one duel, before moving along. Because of this Nadya goes from not grasping her magic in one moment, to feeling perfectly in control in the next. While her character arc, and that of some of the others was interesting, these additional steps were missed. Then, there was the love interest. Even it was a very predictable tale and didn't reflect well on the female lead, it actually leaves open some doors for the next volume; now that Nadya knows what an unhealthy relationship is like, there is the chance for a better one with another. There are also plenty of mysteries still unsolved, and with this foundation, there is hope that the promise of the first will still be delivered upon.