Author: Eilis O'Neal
Publication: EgmontUSA (January 25, 2011)
Description: Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.
Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.
Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.
My Thoughts: This was a wonderful fantasy with a fairy-tale feel.
I liked the story of a young woman who has had everything she believed about herself taken away and who then has to find out who she really is. At first we see Sinda as the Princess Nalia who is happy enough in the life but who feels that she is too clumsy and shy. Once it is revealed that she is a false princess, we see her trying to cope with a life she never expected. She doesn't fit in at all in the quiet village where she is sent. The aunt who is her only relative is not a warm person. She resents Sinda because she looks like the woman who abandoned her brother and broke his heart.
When Sinda discovers that she has magic and that the magic comes from her unknown mother, she is determined to return to the royal city and learn to use her magic. Once in the royal city she discovers a plot that is long-standing and could ruin the kingdom. But who will believe a girl who was once a princess and must resent her change in circumstances?
All along Sinda has had a friend in Kiernan. He is a baron's son and has been her friend and companion since they were babies. When she goes to the village to live with her aunt, he follows her. But she rebuffs him because she is completely unacceptable as a wife. Their circumstances are too different. She sends him away and manages to break both their hearts.
When she finds out about the plot in the city, Kiernan is the only one that she can trust. But what can two sixteen-year-olds do to thwart a plot that has been going on since they were born?
I liked that Sinda wasn't perfect. She had a good share of vanity and a sense of insecurity too. She was used to learning things quickly but wasn't all that good at learning her aunt's trade or learning about her magic. She did have a strong sense of duty to the kingdom that she was raised to rule. She felt a loyalty to the king and queen even though they had treated her badly.
I also liked Kiernan. He was funny and supportive and absolutely determined that Sinda was the one for him whether she was a queen or a pig herder. I felt sorry for him when Sinda's own insecurities hurt him. But he was also resilient. He was unfailingly supportive of her needs.
The story was filled with magic and danger and adventures and romance. I recommend it to lovers of fantasy of any age.
"We can't. They'll think I'm mad, or bent on revenge, and that I've--I don't know--used my wiles on you to make you believe me."
Kiernan raised an eyebrow. "Your wiles?"
I flushed, but pushed on. "The point is, they won't believe us. It sounds crazy. And we might end up tipping off the traitor, letting them know that we know."