Choose: A quick death . . . or slow poison . . .
About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve.
She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace -- and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
As Yelena tries... read more
Magic is illegal in the North. Any sorcerer found is caught and executed. Decreed by the Commander who overthrew the tyrannical King who was also a magician. We first meet the protagonist Yelena in the dungeon for killing some unknown person. She freely admits it, because this man was evil. As... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Magic is illegal in the North. Any sorcerer found is caught and executed. Decreed by the Commander who overthrew the tyrannical King who was also a magician. We first meet the protagonist Yelena in the dungeon for killing some unknown person. She freely admits it, because this man was evil. As she is taken up to be executed, a plot twist is introduced as the death of the Commander's food taster. The guidelines are, when a food taster dies, the next person scheduled to be executed has the option of continuing with the execution or attempting the training under Valek. Valek trains the new tasters, and he is a complex character. Being the Commander's most trusted adviser, he has a reputation as ruthless, heartless, and a murderer. Yelena gets to know Valek, and he even saves her from a magicians attack. Valek and her develop a relationship as Yelena is being targeted by Southern Magicians. Yelena herself is a magician, taken from the South when she was a little girl. Yelena, being the lovable character she is, makes friends in the soldiers ranks as she trains with them every day, with Valek's approval. Through the story, readers find out why Yelena was in jail in the first place, and why magic is such a danger to the Commander. There are several little plot twists along the way, such as Valek's imperviousness to magic itself. Who can Yelena trust in a world of deception?
“I am not a fool.”Yelena
“To Yelena, our newest food taster. May you last longer than your predecessor.”Valek
“Only Valek would consider an attempt on my life a fascinating diversion.”Yelena
“Oh yeah. Like you could hear me over your specially trained ‘woodland-animal footsteps,’” Rough Voice countered. “It was like listening to two deer humping each other.”Rough Voice
“His movements were so graceful that I wondered if he had been a dancer, but his words betrayed to me that his fluid gestures were those of a trained killer.”Yelena
“The only reason Valek was interested in me, I thought as I walked through the dim corridors, was because I was a puzzle for him to solve”Yelena
“What should I tell the executioner?”Valek
“Yelena, I’m always going to bet on you. You’re like one of the Commander’s terriers. A tiny, yappy dog you wouldn’t look at twice, but once it grabs your pant leg, it won’t let go.”Rand
I originally thought this was a Young Adult book due to Yelena's young age and the plot of the book. But it definitely IS NOT. It has very mature subject matter.*Alternate editor here -- I think this book would be acceptable for young adults at the parents' discretion; mature teens could deal with the issues presented. The story contains strong language, violence including a sexual assault scene, a non-violent sexual situation (not graphic) and themes of magic, espionage and slavery.
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