Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Star of the Morning - Lynn Kurland

This is the first book in the Nine Kingdoms series. Read our review of the second book, The Mage's Daughter, and the third, Princess of the Sword.

Summary: Darkness covers the north, for the black mage has begun his assault on the isolated kingdom of Neroche. Legend has it that only the two magical swords held in trust by Neroche's king can defeat the mage. Now the fate of the Nine Kingdoms rests in the hands of a woman destined to wield one of those blades...

The Mercenary - Morgan is a practical woman with no use for magic. Yet she feels compelled to offer her sword to the sorcerer king of Neroche. Her fateful decision will lead her to a magical destiny...and a man whose love will change her life forever.

The King - Adhemar of Neroche's connection to the magic of the land is fading. Helpless to defend his country against the black mage's forces, his only hope is to travel in disguise, searching for the one who was foretold to bring victory.

The Mage - Miach, the archmage of Neroche, is Adhemar's youngest brother--and duty bound to aid his king. Though they find what they seek, Miach will lose his heart in a way he never could have foreseen.

In this land of dragons and mages, warrior maids and magical swords, nothing is as it seems. For the king is less than he should be, the mage is far more than he appears, and the mercenary will find that the magic in her blood brings her troubles she cannot face with a sword--and a love more powerful than she has ever imagined... (Summary from book - Image from penguin.com)

My Review: I went through a sci-fi/fantasy phase in high school and the beginning of my college years that had me running through fantasy books (and little else) like they were chocolate. I've since diversified my reading preferences, but love to revisit the genre of my youth whenever I feel stressed. Guess what? I'm stressed. So, when someone recommended Star of the Morning as an easy-to-read fantasy romance and offered to lend me the series I said "Yes!" far more quickly than I'd like to admit.

Once I actually had time to sit down and devote myself to this book, I went through it rather quickly. Morgan, a trained mercenary, is tasked with taking a specific sword to the king of Neroche and, unwittingly, ends up traveling with him and his brother for a good portion of the book. I think what made this book so interesting was the anticipation of what, exactly, this fierce sword-maiden was going to do when she found out the truth. The rest of the story unfolds rather predictably, but I enjoyed it all the same. Overall, Star of the Morning was undemanding and entertaining (much like Countess Below Stairs) without even a smidgen of complexity – an escapist fantasy if there ever was one.

Because it’s the first in a series, the story of Morgan, Miach, and Adhemar has barely begun and the end of the story left so much unfinished that I have to pick up the next one. I’m hesitant to pass judgment on its own, lest the final book in the series end up being a dismal failure (can you say Breaking Dawn?), but I will anyway. I think that those people who enjoy reading Eva Ibbotson, Robin McKinley, and Sharon Shinn will probably like this series as well.

My Rating: 4 Stars. For the sensitive reader: Read away. I don't remember a single thing that could offend.

Sum it up: Sword fighting, enchantment, intrigue, and romance. Fans of Ibbotson, McKinley and Shinn should enjoy this book as well.

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