With Ismae and Sybella gone, Annith figures she must be next to be sent out to serve St. Mortain; after all, she is the most experienced and the most senior. Instead, the Reverend Mother intends her to be the convent seeress, a job that requires her being cloistered in a tiny room for the rest of her life. No teenage girl, especially one as driven as Annith, would want to be trapped forever. Despairing of her fate, Annith prays to Mortain to use her skills in service rather than as seeress, shooting an expertly aimed arrow marked with her blood as a sacrifice during an important ceremony. The final straw comes when the Reverend Mother decides to send out a young, immature girl as Mortain’s assassin and explicitly tells Annith she will be seeress or she will marry a widowed farmer, which infuriates Annith into action. Finally defying her reputation of being willing and compliant, Annith plots and escapes the convent and the Reverend Mother’s wishes.
After a few days on the road, she hears a group of riders and a mysterious stranger hides her from their presence. Never one to be automatically trusting (quite rightly), she wins the tussle with the stranger and finds that the riders are hellequin, Mortain’s damned hunting pack to find lost souls and guide them beyond, and that he is one of them. The stranger, Balthazaar, offers her safe passage with the hellequin to her destination, and Annith accepts. Still, riding with a group of undead warriors is unnerving, especially when they could be in pursuit of her and because Balthazaar stands guard over her while she’s sleeping. Slowly, she and Balthazaar develop a relationship, but when she discovers her arrow in his pack, it frightens her. So, she runs away, throwing in her lot with a group of questing Arduinnites, the sect of female warriors dedicated to protecting the innocent. With their help, she reaches her goal, Rennes, the city where the duchess and her court, along with the Reverend Mother, have taken refuge from the ever encroaching French army. There, it is up to Annith to prove her usefulness to her duchess and expose the Reverend Mother’s secrets. However, in doing so, she has begun a life-altering turn of events, both for herself, for the god Mortain, and for all of Brittany.
An all-encompassing conclusion to a gripping series!
Due to each main character’s unique circumstances, each book changes flavors. This one is driven by a more mysterious magic than the other two, what with the undead hellequin hunt and all. It also is unique in the romantic relationships. Some readers may be disturbed by the concept and immediately conclude this book is awful, etc., much in the way that the Twilight series put Jacob in an unique relationship with Reneesme. However, keep an open mind. Annith herself is a strong female character and has been acting as an adult for quite a while. After the initial shock, I was hooked! The setting and historical details are captivating. For lovers of medieval warfare and RPGs or MMORPGs, you will want to read this. In addition, those of you who love the old arts of sword fighting, you may be interested to explore this, too, as I just discovered it a few weeks ago. As for me, I can’t wait to see what Robin decides to write about next!
Note: Violence and sexual circumstances, not as suitable for middle grade readers.