Author: Sherwood Smith
Publication: Book View Cafe; first edition (October 15, 2010); ebook for my Kindle
Description: The first summer of peace brings Wren on her weekly visit to the young Queen Teressa, where she encounters the derisive, upsetting Hawk Rhiscarlan riding in! Wren races to warn Teressa, to discover he's expected, which causes the girls' first argument. Tyron gives Wren a chance to leave Meldreth by sending her on a new journeymage project--to find Connor, who had wandered off to the Summer Isles. When Wren vanishes, her scry stone abandoned, Teressa veers between regret over the argument, worry about Wren, and the beguilement of attraction as Hawk skillfully upsets her court. Wren has just made friends with some young sailors when they are captured and forced on board a shady smuggler, where Wren learns all about the sea. When pirates attack, Wren does magic, which leads her straight to another confrontation with the villain she hates most, aided by the boy she . . . what do you call these feelings? Once again the four--Wren, Teressa, Connor, and Tyron--find themselves deep in adventure, as they try to navigate the treacherous waters of growing up.
My Thoughts: This story takes place shortly after the conclusion of Wren's War (1995). But I was quickly caught up again in Wren's world. Wren and her friends have survived a war but now they have to adjust to peace and to growing up. Wren and Tessa begin the book with an argument about Hawk, who has come to court Tessa. Tessa is just getting used to being queen and is feeling her way into her role. The argument leads Wren to begin her journeymage project since it will take her away from court. Also, she is eager to track down her friend Connor. She is uncertain about what she feels for him but she knows she wants to see him.
Almost immediately Wren is "boomed" (shanghaied) along with five other young people and finds herself on an almost-pirate ship. She has lost her money, her scrying stone, and believes that someone is hunting for her. Her companions express the common attitude of the day and dislike magic and mages. Wren's magic is tested when the ship is attacked by pirates. She doesn't feel very confident of her magical gifts even though they work to defeat the attackers.
Wren and her companions escape from the pirates in a small gig but the pirates pursue them in force. They are almost caught when Connor and the people he has been working for come to her rescue. Connor has caught a glimpse of the evil mage who is controlling the pirates and is dismayed that it is their old enemy Andreus.
It is a measure of Wren's sense of responsibility that she determines to go after Andreus and find a way to scuttle his pirate fleet before he can conquer three countries. She knows she is alone but her attitude is that, since she is on the spot, she has to do something. Connor and his friends, along with Wren's companions, do take the attack to Andreus and use clever tactics to defeat him.
Meanwhile, at home, Tessa is getting to know Hawk. She is dazzled by his looks and his focus on her. However, none of her friends or advisors like him or trust him. There are a lot of scenes showing the way Hawk interacts with the court. Tessa has to learn to see him as he really is. She loves him but he isn't good for her or for her kingdom.
This was a good coming of age story. All of the characters grow and change. It is also a good conclusion to the series. I strongly recommend this book to fans of the first three books in the series -- Wren to the Rescue, Wren's Quest, and Wren's War.
Wren fumbled her way forward, barking her shins, sides, and forearms against more corners then it seemed possible the entire world could contain, much less one small cargo area.