I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
King Toran is greatly admired for uniting the 5 realms and bringing peace to the land. When the King dies, his throne stands empty. It is rumored that he left 5 heirs throughout the land, however their identities remain a mystery.
The story is told from several character’s point of view. Reann is a 17 year old ward of the castle that is working as a servant until her guardianship ends. She is the self-appointed librarian and has been secretly searching for clues to the lost heirs. She hopes that if she finds one she will gain a permanent position at the castle and not be cast out when she turns 18. A mysterious man arrives at the castle who is also secretly searching for the heirs, but can he be trusted?
Terith is a young dragon rider in a different part of the realm. He fights to protect his land from a horde of invaders called the Outlanders. Much of his story centers around the champion challenge. The winner is deemed the new ruler of the land and is also allowed first pick of the eligible maidens for marriage. The competition is fierce and he wants to win not only to rule, but to have first choice of the woman he loves.
The story starts off pretty slow and although there is some fighting and battles, they are more confusing than exciting. The worldbuilding is very slight and at times I didn’t really understand everything that was going on. There is a horde of “Outlanders”that the realm must fight every year, but there is no information given as to who they are, where they come from, and why they keep invading year in and year out.
There are apparently 5 realms, but we only really read about 2 of them. The others are causally referred to when discussing the rumors of the location of the heirs. It is presumed that Toran is dead, but there is no real answer as to whether he is or not. There seem to be significant time jumps between some of the stories, but the reader is left to guess as to what these are. There is no information given as to why the castle is still running, who is in charge while there is no heir and how the realms continue to work together with no apparent government.
With regard to Terith, apparently the people that he lives with have some kind of magical power called the “awakening”, but there is little description of what this is, what different kinds there are or where it comes from. There are several kinds of dragons but the descriptions of them raise more questions than provide answers.
Normally I devour fantasy books quickly, but it took me quite awhile to read this book. That’s not a good thing. I do think the series has a lot of promise if the author can provide more worldbuilding in the next book. I will probably check out the next book in the series.