Princess Heir Raisa is trapped: expected to behave well and not make a fuss, to make a politically expedient marriage, to be politically and socially close to wizards but not to marry one, to balance her mountain clan-bred father and her flatlander mother. Han is also trapped: by his mother’s low expectations, by lack of money, by the temptation to reenter a lucrative but dangerous criminal lifestyle, by the silver cuffs on his wrist which make him instantly recognizable and are impossible to remove. The summer they both turn sixteen—and thus become adults—things get worse: the political intrigue thickens, gang members are found tortured to death. Even in the clan’s camps, where both Raisa and Han have found comfort and friendship, there is dissension and strain.
This is another book that I read two-thirds of the way through and then realized that it had to be the first in a trilogy. Seriously, people who write copy for ARCs, if it’s not a standalone, the ARC copy should say so. Seriously. I checked on Google; it’s listed as “Volume 1 of Seven Realms Trilogy.” Good to know.
It’s solidly written, with characters who are true to type but still interesting. The society is also well done, with the city and its economic inequality countered by the clan camps, which are more egalitarian on the surface but have their own immutable rules. Though city and camp societies are well-drawn, the wizards are quite flat; luckily, the direction she seems to be taking the story at the end of this volume leave open quite a bit of potential for interesting wizard-development in the second and third books. Issues of loyalty, personal choice, and the imperfect way events are remembered as history give the fantasy some extra depth.
I was given an ARC by my mother, who works at a bookstore.