I have two really great fantasies for you today that I am very excited about! Both have strong female main characters and are full of adventure, romance, danger, and a bit of magic.
Kyra, an orphan turned talented thief, is approached by the head of the Assassin’s Guild, James, to infiltrate the Palace in exchange for coin and teaching. Kyra, who is always struggling to make ends meet, accepts in spite of feeling uneasy about the deal and turns her talents to filching information for James. Meanwhile, Tristram, a young knight at the Palace, is determined to stop the attacks on his city. They call them Demon Riders for their people ride large cats and have been terrorizing the outer city for months. Tristram is trying to avenge his friend, but somehow the Demon Riders are ahead of his every step. Something is forewarning them, and he must catch the thief. Kyra is that thief, and as she’s been working with James for a while now, she is growing deeply unhappy at his methods. When Kyra faces a tough decision, kill for James or her friends will be killed, she finds her fate wrapped up in Tristram’s, and discovers secrets about guild she has been working for, leading to an irreversible knowledge about who she is and what she must do to fight for her own truths.
Fans of Tamora Pierce and possibly the Warriors series will like this book. While I’m not going to give any of Kyra’s secrets away here, it did seem like she was hard to grasp for the reader at the beginning. She was mysterious, but also hard to connect with, perhaps because Kyra herself doesn’t fully have a grip on her own sense of self. She is poor, orphaned, and the only thing she can cling to is her skills and her two friends, even her home might be taken away from her at any moment. Her deal with James changes all that, but like many glittering possibilities, it is too good to be true. And despite seeming harmless and beneficial to herself, Kyra’s actions have consequences and have the power to change lives, a truth we all would do well to remember. As things get worse and worse for her, Kyra discovers she has the potential to change everything. Like Kyra, what differences could we make if we choose to do the right thing, rather than by staying silent or taking the easy route? Also, I don’t think the cover did this book enough justice though it certainly was intriguing. It seems to suggest a doorknocker, though perhaps that was intentional and it is the door to Kyra’s destiny?
(Did anyone catch the brief nod to Arrow in that synopsis? Was not intentional, I assure you.)
When Princess Arabella of Morrighan, First Daughter, privately known as Lia, secretly flees the duty and tradition of her marriage to the prince of the neighboring kingdom Dalbreck, she just wants her own freedom. She’s spent most of her life being a disappointment to her father, her mother, the Scholar, and the Chancellor. She’s tired of being an object, a pawn, something to be used and thrown away. She’ll show them she can make her own decisions and she can survive. Despite knowing that the alliance between Dalbreck and Morrighan was to defend against the warring barbarian kingdom Venda, Lia can never marry a man who would send his father to find a bride for him, and won’t be a soldier in her father’s army to just do as she’s told. She and her attendant, the loyal Pauline, travel to a fishing and trade town, Terravin, posing as farmer girls. There, she and Pauline find jobs from Berdi, Pauline’s adopted aunt, and work as barmaids in Berdi’s tavern. Never mind her royal blood, Lia can learn and be grateful to do menial jobs as a regular citizen. It seems she and Pauline have escaped from her father without any repercussions, except for a small bounty placed upon her head. Lia loves her life in Terravin; she has even besotted two young men, Kaden and Rafe, who each have their own secrets as they had been in pursuit of Lia, one an assassin and the other a prince. Her idyll cannot last forever. Little does she know just how far the repercussions of her escape have changed the kingdom of Morrighan.
One of my favorite books this year, and alas, a convoluted love triangle, though with a very big twist that leaves you slightly muddle-headed and questioning all of your facts. Arabella is truly a girl with the mettle of iron, as she defies her family, the government, the other authorities, and spurns her enemies at the face of death. Her amours, Kaden and Rafe, present two flip sides of a coin, and at any moment, you’re pitting one against the other and constantly changing your opinion though one did stand out to me. The unfortunate Pauline is both likeable and pitiable, and I was left wondering about the truth of her circumstances. Still, you can’t help rooting for a romance, a happy ending, and for the plucky heroine and her friends. An epic adventure that you’re desperate to continue just as it ends.