Author: Anne Osterlund
Publication: Speak (April 17, 2008)
Description: An impressive debut, equal parts commercial appeal and literary prowess.
Princess Aurelia is next in line to rule the kingdom of Tyralt, but she would rather be one of the common folk, free to learn and roam and . . . not marry the next tyrannical prince that comes courting. Naturally, the king wants Aurelia to marry for political power. Aurelia wants to marry for love. And someone in the kingdom wants her . . . dead. Assigned to investigate and protect Aurelia is Robert, the son of the king's former royal spy and one of Aurelia's oldest friends. As Aurelia and Robert slowly uncover clues as to who is threatening her, their friendship turns to romance. With everything possible on the line?her life, her kingdom, her heart? Aurelia is forced to take matters into her own hands, no matter the cost.
My Thoughts: AURELIA was an enjoyable high fantasy novel about a princess mired in court politics who is currently in danger of assassination. Is it the stepmother who favors her own daughter over Aurelia? Is it the king of a neighboring kingdom whose motives are not at all clear?
Aurelia's childhood friend and fellow classmate Robert Vantauge comes from the frontier to protect his friend. His father was the former spymaster of the kingdom but is now retired and raising horses far from the political intrigue of the castle. Robert's uncle is one of the king's advisers and his cousin Chris is a noted courtier.
Aurelia is smart, stubborn, and eager to be a good leader to her people. However, her stepmother and the king are more concerned with marrying her off to "suitors" nearly three times her age than they are with her abilities as a ruler. Aurelia feels that her fate is like a shackle around her ankle keeping her from doing what she wants to do.
It takes Robert's investigations to unravel the tangle of plots around her and leads her to see an ultimate betrayal. But, along the way, Aurelia and Robert fall in love. He has loved her since they were children but this is a new thing for her. After all, he travels from the edge of the frontier to help her when she needs him.
The story is well-written and the characters well-developed. Fans of fantasy will enjoy this story of intrigue, betrayal, and romance. Luckily, the sequel EXILE is available for readers who want to know what happens next for Aurelia and Robert.
The cheery tone in the room disintegrated under his sullen stare. Robert and his mother exchanged brief looks. Tension clung to the dinner table, the participants holding themselves erect, each head, each shoulder, each arm suspended in the thick air. Utensils moved in slow motion lest they bang against a plate. The slightest noise might tear a hole in the tablecloth of silence.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.