4 stars

This is the first book in the series. As with most first books in a fantasy series, there is a lot of worldbuilding. It is tedious at times, and makes the book read slow in the beginning, but once it’s done, the action takes off. Inda is the second son of a prince in a kingdom. Traditionally, the first son is the heir and rules the land and the second son is in command of the defense of the land. The heirs and second sons are trained at a brutal academy in the capital city where they are taught to command, fight and follow orders without question.

Girls are also pledged to marry the heir and second son and are given to the families they will marry into at a very young age. They are raised by that family and trained in the defense of the castle, as it is the women’s duty to protect the home. When Inda and the other second sons are sent to the academy early, he befriends the second son of the ruling King. The book details Inda’s academy days and beyond, the struggles of the heirs and second sons, as well as the women who will marry them. As in most fantasy novels, there is plenty of political intrigue, treachery, betrayals and fighting.

My biggest pet peeves with fantasy novels is the use of ridiculously long names with hyphens that ultimately all look the same. It’s very difficult to keep track of who is who and which person is related to which person and is extremely distracting. This book was rife with these types of names and it drove me nuts. I really wish fantasy authors would stop this horrible trend. There are plenty of exotic sounding names that don’t include two hyphens, 16 letters and over half the alphabet. Seriously. This is a BIG problem.

Otherwise, I really enjoyed the writing, the characters and the storyline. The book ended on multiple cliff-hangers and I’m looking forward to reading the next books in the series.