3.5 stars rounded up to 4
I really enjoyed this YA Fantasy book about a low-born girl with a gift for battle strategy that propels herself and her twin brother into a better life and better roles in the kingdom.
Nine year old Marilia and her twin brother Annuweth are bastards that live in a brothel with their prostitute mother. After a series of events they are forced to leave the only home they’ve known and seek out the friend of their deceased father, a general of the Emperor. He takes them into his home and cares for them as his own children, tutoring and training them to be nobles in the empire. Despite being a girl, Marilia convinces her adoptive father to train her in warfare and strategy and eventually learns to fight with a sword. She is especially gift in battle strategies, much to the chagrin of her brother, who wants nothing more than to serve in the military and rise to the rank of general.
Eventually Marilia must marry and moves to an island with her husband’s family. Before Marilia can settle into her marriage, the empire is attacked. The leader of their army is captured and the forces are left in the hands of an inept commander. Marilia convinces the Council to let her lead the military, but although her battle plans are solid, she must face treachery in her own ranks, a formidable enemy, and rivalry with her brother.
This is a very easy, quick read and did not seem like it was 482 pages long. The story caught my attention right away and I was hooked. I really liked Marilia and appreciated her character growth throughout the book. Even though she was anxious and full of doubts, she pushed through it and gained much needed confidence in herself. I understood the rivalry between her and her twin brother and it was hard to see the once close twins at odds with each other. The interactions with her husband’s sister were very sweet and it was great to see how that relationship progressed.
The downside to this book was the lack of details in most of the substantive matters. Rather than going into details and being descriptive, the author would just say something like “Marilia knew her plan would work and discussed it with the advisors” or “the battle went according to plan and was successful”. The author didn’t use those exact words, but that was the gist of it. I thought this was lazy and really took away from the book, especially considering the whole point of it is that a young girl can be smart, cunning and good at battle strategy and warfare – yay Girl Power.
I also thought the problems she faced with the troops was a bit contrived. The author didn’t build enough tension for the problems to seem as big of a deal to warrant Marilia’s reaction. Again, the author took the lazy way out and “told” us, rather than “showed” us. Overall, however, I really enjoyed the book and these issues didn’t detract too much from my enjoyment.
If you’re looking for a fun, easy YA Fantasy read, I recommend you read this book.
I received a free copy of this book from Book Sirens in exchange for an honest review.