Author: Aundrea Singer
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 3.5 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Twenty-year-old Tarquin is smart, tactless, and braver than he knows. He’s also been Mage of the Realm of Kelor for two years, taking the title from his mother after she died protecting Kelor from a terrible threat.
While on a quest to heal his dying brother, Tarquin is attacked by a horrific, flesh-eating monster. He’s saved by an enigmatic and mute young soldier, cursed with a terrifying form that conceals the heart of a knight. There’s an almost instant attraction between the two men, but no time to explore it. The monster’s attack is the harbinger of a new invasion.
With Kelor helpless, the realm’s only hope lies with Tarquin. As Mage of the Realm, he alone can sacrifice himself, the way his mother did, in exchange for unimaginably powerful magic. He’s prepared to give up his life to defeat the coming evil, but before the battle is over, he’ll be faced not just with his own death, but the death of everyone he cares about.
Including the monster he’s come to love.
Review: I have mixed feelings about this book. I thought it was worth reading but can’t say I’d recommend it either. The first few pages were very violent and graphic. Lots of death right away. It definitely sets the tone of the book. There some evil creatures coming out of hiding and they’re literally monsters. I liked the premise of the good kingdom of people versus the bad evil creatures from the mountain. I particularly liked how the world created wasn’t just humans. It was other beings and they all lived together. There’s no discrimination whatsoever between the civilized beings. I say civilized since there are some that aren’t. The accepting and open nature of these people and beings made me not even blink at the prospect of a lizard like creature and prince of the realm falling in love.
Tarquin and his guards find themselves being hunted by a vicious creature they thought extinct. Another man like creature later named Five intervenes and saves their lives. Whatever hunted them had a partner who massacred a small village. Together they race home to warn the queen of the creatures impending attack. Plans are quickly thrown together as best as they can to fight a war they’re terribly outmatched for. Tarquin knows his duty. He knows he will have to follow in the steps of his mother and sacrifice himself to save his people. It’s just really bad timing he also falls in love with his protector.
Some people might have a problem with the inter-species lovin going on in this book. I’ll admit it’s a weird visual physically what with scales and tails but there’s really not much sexual activity going on in this book so the focus is more on the love story. Which I enjoyed even though it had an insta love kind of feel to it. The book is pretty fast paced considering they only have a matter of days to prepare for the attack coming their way. For me in these circumstances the insta love worked. I thought Five the Lizard creature was pretty adorable. He’s mute but his interest in and connection with Tarquin is pretty obvious. The author did a good job showing me his affection for Tarquin through his actions. Considering Tarquin is the Mage of the Relm he had little to no combat capabilities at all. He relies solely on his ability to trade his blood for magic. Even then he wasn’t always quick enough to do anything or use it to it’s fullest. Honestly I found him frustrating. Great and powerful but bumbling. And not in a cute way. He’s also a martyr. Literally.
I liked the plot well enough. There were some points where the story lulls. Maybe too much contemplation on Tarquin’s part. There’s lots of action and blood. The world building was good. To me all the magical elements in this story were probably the most interesting. I had more questions about Tarquin’s blood magic and how it was ingrained in their society than anything. It’s all kind of left open with possibilities. Basically this was good but not great. I might have enjoyed it more if I’d liked Tarquin better. I enjoyed most of the secondary characters. Five was my favorite. His story was a sad one I was happy to see get a happy ending.