Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Series: Shattered Realms (Book 1)
Publication: HarperTeen (April 5, 2016)
Description: Set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Seven Realms series, a generation later, this is a breathtaking story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death. This dazzling beginning to a new series is indispensable for fans of Cinda Williams Chima and a perfect starting point for readers who are new to her work.
Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now he’s closer than ever to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. With time running out, Ash faces an excruciating choice: Can he use his powers not to save a life but to take it?
Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.
Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the ruthless king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.
My Thoughts: This was an entertaining epic fantasy novel that begins a new series set in the world of the Seven Kingdoms. It is filled with interesting characters. Adrian sul'Han, who is better known as Ash, is the son of the Queen of the Fells and a budding mage. When his father is killed in front of him, he runs, vowing revenge on the King of Arden, who ordered the murder. He spends four years learning to be a healer and expert poisoner and keeping the fact that he is alive secret from most. He spends his summer in Arden using his skills as a poisoner to disrupt things for the king as he plots and plans to assassinate the king.
Jenna Bandelow is an orphan who has a mysterious mark on the back of her neck. She has been working in the mines of Delphi until she watches the King of Arden murder her two best friends. Jenna is also determined to kill the king. She begins as a saboteur in Delphi since she is an expert with explosives. She is active in the underground that is trying to retake the city of Delphi from the king.
However, the king has set his spies to find the girl with the mysterious mark on her neck because the Empress of Carthia is willing to trade an army for her. The king needs the army to finally win the 25 year war that he has been waging on the Fells - a war that started over a declined marriage proposal but is now more about religious differences. The Fells is ruled by mages and Arden believes mages are demons and that they must be killed.
After activities of their own, both Ash and Jenna meet in the king of Arden's palace. She is a prisoner and he is too though she is in a cell and he is collared to control his magic and working for the king as a healer and magic detector. They fall in love which is completely unexpected for each of them.
Jenna and Ash aren't the only ones who want to kill the King of Arden. He is not universally beloved. Nor are they the only ones plotting in Arden. Other interesting characters are Lila, who is a fellow student at the school where Ash has been hiding and learning, and Destin Karn, who is the son of the king's most loyal General. Still another interesting character is Evan Strangward who comes to Arden as an emissary of the Empress of Carthia. Everyone has a hidden agenda.
I can't wait to read the next book in this series. There are so many plot threads left dangling and I need to know how the author manages to knit them together.
"By most standards, I've had a miserable life. Orphan, raised in Delphi, forced into the mines at a young age. Marked for death since birth."I got this eARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.
He eyed her, his brow furrowed, as if waiting for the punch line. "So? How does that—?"
"And yet, dozens of times, I've been ambushed by joy and beauty in the most unexpected places. Things I would have missed if I'd been preoccupied with pain. A sunrise over a slag heap. Ham for breakfast when I didn't expect it. A song that goes straight to the heart." She ran her fingers along his thigh, feeling his muscles tighten under her hand. "Maybe it's primitive, to live in the moment, but there are advantages. For instance, I never expected to be ambushed by love in a dungeon."