It took me a while to picture the setting for this book. I wasn’t sure if it was a typical fantasy setting, or if it was an urban fantasy setting but using medieval props? it took me a bit to actually get the picture. It’s an interesting way to create a world and I’m still trying to picture it. Some may have trouble with it (especially those who are so used to epic fantasy settings like in LOTR or in Forgotten Realms novels), some might picture it easily. I think what got me was when the different parts of Ixia was divided into ‘districts’. Wait a minute. Fantasy doesn’t do that. At least the fantasy that I am used to reading. So, you can see what I am trying to get it when I’m talking about the setting for this book.
From the start, there’s a lot of intrigue and political scheming. Which is great because it adds more feeling to the story and you can’t help but keep reading to wonder what might happen next. I really liked how Yelena got herself out from the state of being close to death and all of sudden a food taster, but also a ‘frenemy’ of Valek’s. She was forced to trust him, but at the same time she didn’t like being under his thumb. They had an interesting chemistry going on (until later in the book – where it became blatantly obvious). I had to admit though, I like Valek. (Yes, I have a crush on Valek, nothing new, read on). He’s the strong but silent type that you can’t help but be drawn to. I also enjoyed reading about Janco and Ari as they provided the comic relief but were also extremely likable characters. Yelena as a character is well written, I liked her because of her strong will to survive under her circumstances. It annoyed me when it seemed she needed the help of others though, it was as if although she was strong in so many ways, she was still a damsel in distress.
As mentioned before, the plot was good. It was interesting and in so many ways, a very entertaining and satisfying read. Although then came the part where I was suddenly blindsided with this romantic bit and then the plot did a very strange twist and it suddenly became a romance novel. Not sure if I really liked that bit (they were in hiding…and doing the deed and any guard searching DIDN’T HEAR THEM?) but I let that go. I wasn’t about to have this little bump take the enjoyment I had of reading the novel. I’m more curious as to what the future holds for Yelena. Speaking of twists, I really enjoyed reading about the Commander’s secret. I would have never thought of that and it is one of the most surprising and well done parts of the book.
Overall, I was pleased with the book and will continue to read the series. I thought it was well worth the read. However, perhaps this is not the perfect book for hardcore fantasy fans. If you want something with fantasy (or in this case, urban fantasy) with a splash of romance this is for you.
I give it a 9 out of 10.