My rating: 3 of 5 stars
My thoughts about this book are mixed. The premise was interesting enough – an uneasy peace between two kingdoms that could be shattered if the main character makes the wrong choice. On top of that, the main character, Alera, also has to decide whether to preserve stability in her kingdom – and family – by marrying the man her father has chosen for her, or if she should go with her heart and what would make her happy by rejecting the arranged marriage.
Unfortunately, for most of the book, many of the characters seemed to lack depth to me. Alera, a daughter in a patriarchal society, spent a lot of the book bemoaning her fate, with no real reason why she objects to her society, when the other women around her seem perfectly fine with it. Narian, the boy she falls in love with, is mysterious, and enigmatic, and while I can understand why this would make her feel drawn to him initially, the relationship between the two of them wasn’t developed well enough, I thought, for their attachment to be believable. Frankly, the most interesting relationship in the book was between Alera and Steldor, the man everyone expects her to marry – I spent most of the book wanting to slap Steldor in the face for his arrogance, but at least there’s a reason for the arrogance, not to mention the fact that he does have his moments.
Additionally, I had a hard time with the writing – sometimes it felt like Kluver was trying too hard, not to mention the book easily could’ve been made shorter simply by cutting down on descriptions. Sometimes I skimmed certain passages, because I didn’t see what difference it made exactly how many ribbons were on so-and-so’s dress.
I am going to read the next book in the series, though, because Alera really started coming to life toward the end. Eventually, she is forced to make an almost impossible choice, and in making that choice, we finally get to see who she is. Additionally, Steldor has some moments where we get to see his real potential, once all of the arrogance is stripped away, which made me sort of start to like him. Unfortunately, I had to read about 95% of the book to get to that point.