After reading the prequel novella, I immediately picked up the next two books in the series. This is fantastic. The world building in this book hits all my happy buttons. And of course, I am rooting for the underdog. Luc aka the Turncoat King has a specific goal in mind. He will bring down the people who stole him from his family and slaughter his mother for protecting him. Meeting up with Ava, a mysterious prisoner of his enemy looks to be good fortune for him.
What I liked about this book is Ava's journey back to Luc. She did it on her terms and in a way that proved her worthiness to allies in this war against an irrational tyrant. Each step, Ava's early education helps her a bit just as her untrained magic is getting a workout. Sometimes, it is best when the rules are not known, because it allows for more creatively. This is what I see with Ava and her ability to weave spells with her stitching. Everything about Ava appeals to me. She's the "princess" that slays her enemies, finds the dragon and convinces the dragon to be her friend. I want to be Ava.
This high fantasy story weaves in an unlikely romantic element. I hesitate to call this a paranormal romance because the plot is strong without the love interest. The romance building between Ava and Luc is more a precious thread weaving in and out of the action scenes, adding to this multilayered complex story.
The action in this story reminds me of some of my favourite sci-fi tales where different regions/countries broker alliances in the hopes to stop an aggressor from destroying them. There is intrigue, betrayals and spellbound friends. I devoured this book and immediately wanted more. As soon as I finished this book, I dove into the next book in this series. Ms. Diener is a must read author. Her books are now all on auto purchase for me. Every series I've read from her so far has blown me away. It is rare for me to find an author who can excel in world building, character creation and strongly plot driven stories. May more readers find Ms. Diener so that she continues to write more stories.
This fantasy is highly recommended to readers who loved the older Valdemar Series from Mercedes Lackey and those who loved Lord of the Rings.