This is the first book in the Two Kingdoms Series and a war between Gaunt and Joquil has been raging for years. Aurora lost her husband Nicholas, the heir to Gaunt, in the battles with the insane king of Joquil, Aurora’s brother. To cope with the devastating loss of her husband, Aurora becomes a top ranking warrior monk, the Aegis Garnet, and pledges her life to the ruler of Gaunt, Nicholas’ mother.
When a little girl is abducted, Aurora travels to the border between Joquil and Gaunt to retrieve the girl. She encounters the Jedren, a clannish community of people that are stuck in the middle of the war. The Jedren take their own side, fighting against both Gaunt and Joquil as they deem necessary. When Ardan, the Jedren leader, captures Aurora, he awakens feelings in her she hadn’t felt since the death of her husband.
Will Aurora escape the Jedren? Will she be able to cope with her feelings for Ardan? Will more people perish in the ongoing war?
Although The Garnet Sword is short for a full-length novel, the book is jammed pack full of story. Interestingly, this book reads much like an epic fantasy novel with romantic elements. Unfortunately, like many epic fantasy novels, the pacing is erratic at times and there are entirely too many characters. I found myself hanging on every word at some parts whereas in other portions I skimmed the long descriptions of scenery. In addition, several of the characters are two-dimensional, which takes away from the story and those characters that are multi-dimensional.
Early on in the story, I sympathized with Aurora. Her character is written extremely well and her motivations are fully explained. I felt and understood Aurora’s anguish, and I was moved to tears several times with her pain and betrayal. Even though the plot becomes apparent early on, I still cried when the inevitable happened. When I cry during a book, I take this as a sign of a well-written story and fully developed characters. Aurora and her story definitely fit this description.
The Garnet Sword is an extremely emotional and heart wrenching book, in all the good ways. Although I found the pacing erratic, my overall impression of the story is undiminished. I am unsure of the direction of the series after such an explosive beginning, but I am looking forward to another beautifully written, all-encompassing story.