by Jennifer Ellision
Sixteen year-old Breena Perdit has spent her life as a barmaid, innocent to her father’s past and happily free from the Elemental gifts that would condemn her to a life in the Egrian King’s army. Until the day that three Elemental soldiers recognize her father as a traitor to the throne and Bree’s father is thrown in jail—along with the secrets from his last mission as the King’s assassin. Secrets that could help the King win a war. Secrets he refuses to share.
Desperate to escape before the King’s capricious whims prove her and her father’s downfall, Bree bargains with him: information for their lives. It’s a good trade. And she has faith she’ll get them both out of the King’s grasp with time.
But that was before the discovery that she’s the weapon the King’s been waiting for in his war.
Now, time is running out. To save her father’s life and understand her own, Bree must unravel the knot of her father’s past before the King takes his life– and uses her to bring a nation to its knees.
This is one of those books that just kinda flies by under the radar waiting to be seen as the gem it is. Honestly, I don't even remember how I came upon this book, but as soon as I read summary, I knew (or hoped) it'd be something I'd enjoy. I was happy to find that it was still on Netgalley and took my chances on getting accepted and I'm so glad I did.
This book was just all-around enjoyable. Did it still need some work? Yes. But that doesn't mean it wasn't good. I, for one, found myself eager to pick up my Kindle at every opportunity in order to finish it.
This book follows the basic premises of most fantasy novels, yet was also refreshing.
First off, I really came to adore Breena. She's not exactly your typical heroine what with being a bar maiden and all, yet I loved her all the same. She is spirited, yet has common sense. She tends toward impulsivity, yet she catches herself, thinks things through, and realizes when to hold her tongue and when not to. Example?
"There are times for defiance, but now is not one of them."
*taken from ARC - may change in final copy.
See?! INTELLIGENT with a healthy dose of common sense! She's been thrown into a situation that isn't exactly in her favor, yet she takes it in stride. She knows things can't always be changed and she accepts it. She tries to change what she can, but she's also understands when things are out of her control. She's simply a breath of fresh air.
Also, another aspect not often found in books nowadays is a good relationship with parents. Sure, things aren't exactly what they seem when it comes to her dad (gotta make it interesting), but he truly cares about her and she him. They have a loving and caring relationship that adds freshness to the usual horrible/absent parenting.
This book also has some great secondary characters found in the refreshingly sweet and calming Tregle and bristly, actually-hiding-her-true-emotions Princess Aleta. Add in a greedy, manipulative, heartless king and a too-trigger-happy Lady Katherine and you've got yourselves your villains.
Another refreshing thing? The romance doesn't overtake the core plot of this book. Look, I'm all for romance, I just hate when characters become obsessed or do stupid things because of said love interest. I like romance, but I don't like it to be the focus. Therefore, it's always refreshing when it's there, but put on the back burner. Caden was sweet and genuine and had a thirst for knowledge. While I wasn't falling head-over-heels for him, I did see why Breena was starting to have feelings for him.
While the idea of elementals is nothing new, I'm always intrigued by it (also, just starting Avatar so this is helping my obsession. Why haven't I started this series earlier?!). However, I will say the world-building could use some work. I believe some confusion was due to the elemental gifts (they can change the ecosystem) but it was a bit confusing. However, I was still intrigued by the various kingdoms and can't wait for the world to become even more fully fleshed out.
Thoroughly enjoyable. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it actually. While I do feel as if this first book skimmed the top of what this world has to offer, I was more than happy with it. Breena is a breath of fresh air. She's got the fiery attitude, but it's mixed with a healthy dose of common sense. It keeps her balanced, but she's not above rebellion. She's been thrown into a rather unfortunate situation, yet takes it in stride. This book also even threw a surprise my way! While I knew one, I certainly didn't guess the other! This book is a gem that's flown under the radar, but I'm here to make it shine ;) Read it!