Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.
A big thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC!
Elanna Valtai was taken from her family as a young girl and held hostage by the king against her family’s good behavior. Growing up in the castle with the king, Elanna developed relationships with the people there and now as the country is thrown in turmoil must choose whether to support her homeland or the world that she grew up in.
Obviously I don’t want to go into spoilers but the plot point of which side Elanna will choose was over way too fast and with way too little fanfare. Starting this book, that was honestly what hooked me about Elanna, her struggle over where she belongs and her anger at her family for doing the things that led to her being taken away from them.
Unfortunately, it seemed like this internal conflict needed to be solved to make way for another internal conflict that also resolved really easily and that didn’t need to exist: which guy should she marry/be with?
The only thing that this really did was raise the question of how much Elanna was willing to sacrifice for the war effort. Being with one man would have political benefits, the other is the one that she loves. I kind of liked that aspect but the whole love triangle was really rather pointless. I think this story would have been better served without any emphasis on romance and instead a focus on the politics themselves.
Back to Elanna’s first struggle though regarding which country to side with, there are some justifications for why Elanna ends up choosing sides the way that she does, but after Elanna having such strong feelings about her birth country at the start of the story there was so little emotion behind her decision that I never felt it.
This is probably in large part because Elanna’s characterization was kind of weak. She is kind of forced into some of her decisions and rather than standing up for herself and what she believes, more often than not she seems to just go with what is decided for her and alters her opinions to justify it. She is very wishy washy; strong feelings about one thing on one page then 5 pages later she is all for the opposite!
A paraphrased example:
“No, I can’t go into the mountains with you, Rhia! I have to stay here with my people! How dare you suggest such a thing!”
…5 pages later…
“I’m so worried about the people that I care about but I can’t leave the mountains now! This is too important!”
The other characters are okay. I liked several of them but just wasn’t able to form a connection with them. I think that a lot of people will really like this book because under these flaws there is a decent story. There was a section in the middle that I did enjoy and then towards the last 10-15% I got into it again, though this was largely because the romance aspect was pretty much settled by then so there was more focus on the plot.
Recommended for fans of YA but I think the YA tropes in this book will turn off some that don’t generally read YA fantasy.