This was a solid fantasy built from a lot of research and brimming with detail. We meet Belinda Primrose as a child. She is raised in the country, far from the court of the Queen where her uncle, who is actually her father, serves. He comes to visit periodically and makes certain that she is well educated in all manner of things, even things that a proper noblewoman shouldn't know. It is apparent that she is being groomed and molded to become something other than a nobleman's wife. She is almost twelve years old when she is finally presented to the queen, who is the woman from her dream. Belinda realizes that the queen is her mother and then goes out onto the palace walls with a young count. He is new at court and her father has ordered her to kill him as he threatens the queen's rule. So she pushes him off the wall and begins her life as an assassin. Fast-forward ten years as Belinda is completing another assignment only to be hurried towards another.
There is a large cast of characters in this epic fantasy but are handled so deftly that there is not a moment of confusion. Ms. Murphy was obviously inspired by the court and world of Queen Elizabeth the First which makes it easy to step into as well as enjoyable. Political intrigue abounds between various royal houses and their quest for dominance. The tension keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering if Belinda's deception will be discovered. I will be anticipating the sequel to find out how it all turns out.