In what should have been an epic fantasy, twins Byren and Lence find their world and beliefs at a crossroads. Lence is King Rolan the Implacable's Heir while Byren is his younger twin, content to be in his brother's shadow and watch him be great. When a seer predicts his killing Lence he laughs it off and thinks nothing else on it. Unfortunately with the madness sweeping the lands, a neighboring country's desperate attempts to either form an alliance or lay seige and circumstances conspiring against him Byren's wish to thwart fate turns out to be anything but simple.
I had really wanted to enjoy this book more than I did. I have a fondness for twins in stories and it has been a while since I read a fantasy with them. In a lot of ways this felt more like a shell of an epic fantasy--as if someone was relaying to me the events that happened, but without any emotion.
Daniells writing falls flat was the problem. Despite the varying third person viewpoints, we never really understand any of the characters or what motivates them. Daniells relays to the reader the why of the motivations, but never the feelings behind them. For instance, near the end, Byren and Orrade are discussing a previous event and Orrade doesn't understand why Byren accepts his Affinity (magic) so easily. Byren shrugs and says why wouldn't he? Well here's the problem we don't know. Would he not accept his friend and companion's power because society says it’s wrong? Because he has a personal problem with it? Because he thinks his friend will misuse it? The rest of the novel doesn't make the reader think 'Oh it’s because Byren is like this or that'.
That's only one instance however. As the book goes on there's a lot of such things that happen--significant moments in the lives of the characters that doesn't resonate on a personal or emotional level.
This was a quick and easy read however, which both works for and against the book. It’s good because it doesn't get bogged down by a sagging middle, but it’s bad because the books feels rushed to an early and superficial conclusion. Byren is suddenly facing the enemy, pleading with them and then it’s all over. I honestly thought my book was missing pages because something happens that should have been much more momentous then it was, but it was over and done with in less than a paragraph. Only another character asking about it did I realize something had happened.
In the end I couldn't enjoy this book as much as I wanted to and I honestly have no real interest in continuing the trilogy. Why should I? I don't feel invested in the characters.
Only seven minutes younger than Rolencia’s heir, Byren has never hungered for the throne. He laughs when a seer predicts that he will kill his twin. But the royal heir resents Byren’s growing popularity. Across the land the untamed magic of the gods wells up out of the earth’s heart. It sends exotic creatures to stalk the wintry nights and it twists men’s minds, granting them terrible visions. Those so touched are sent to the Abbey to control their gift, or die. At King Rolen’s court enemies plot to take his throne, even as secrets within his own household threaten to tear his family apart.
Political intrigue and magic combine in this explosive first book in an exciting new fantasy trilogy.