A soldier with a curse
Tala lost her family to the empress’s army and has spent her life avenging them in battle. But the empress’s crimes don’t haunt her half as much as the crimes Tala has committed against the laws of magic . . . and her own flesh and blood.
A prince with a debt
Jimuro has inherited the ashes of an empire. Now that the revolution has brought down his kingdom, he must depend on Tala to bring him home safe. But it was his army who murdered her family. Now Tala will be his redemption – or his downfall.
A detective with a grudge
Xiulan is an eccentric, pipe-smoking detective who can solve any mystery – but the biggest mystery of all is her true identity. She’s a princess in disguise, and she plans to secure her throne by presenting her father with the ultimate prize: the world’s most wanted prince.
A thief with a broken heart
Lee is a small-time criminal who lives by only one law: Leave them before they leave you. But when Princess Xiulan asks her to be her partner in crime – and offers her a magical animal companion as a reward – she can’t say no, and soon finds she doesn’t want to leave the princess behind.
This band of rogues and royals should all be enemies, but they unite for a common purpose: to defeat an unstoppable killer who defies the laws of magic. In this battle, they will forge unexpected bonds of friendship and love that will change their lives – and begin to change the world.
I really liked this, inspired by the author’s own Filipino heritage as well as other South East Asian countries, this creative fantasy novel is the author’s debut and a very accomplished one at that.
The writing is fluid and the plot tight, the characters are fully realised and the world building strong. As each narrative strand begins to interweave and build to the finale the plot becomes more taut and integrates beautifully.
The magic system is unique and clever; soul bonding between a human and animal, a race who can manipulate metals. There are clear magical laws, which when broken can either be extremely dangerous or show a commonality between supposedly disparate peoples.
The relationships between the four main characters are well developed and show the tension between nations being slowly eroded as individuals come together to defeat an enemy that threatens to destroy the fragile peace between them.
I would like to see a second book set in this world – there is the potential for a lot more, both with these characters and with others.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book with no obligation to post, all opinions remain my own.