The seer and the sword
by Victoria Hanley
British author Hanley pens a romantic royal tale of intrigue in the tradition of King Arthur. Princess Torina, "eyes sparkling, hair wild," is the only child of hard-hearted warrior King Kareed. After the king defeats the peaceful monarch of Bellandra, he brings home the country's famous sword and gives to his daughter a magic crystal and Landen, the prince of Bellandra, to be Torina's slave. What begins as an uneasy friendship between Landen and Torina grows into a bond of trust when the girl saves his life due to her ability to see the future in the magic crystal. Years later the two become estranged when Landen informs Torina that her lover, Vesputo, is deceiving her and has only ambitions to the throne. Vesputo turns vicious, and both she and Landen are forced to leave the country. They separate, travel far and wide, and eventually find themselves major players in a complicated political plot with Vesputo at its center. This is a lengthy novel, and the narrative's vacillation between different locations and points of view becomes disorienting; the pacing also suffers from fits and starts. However, Hanley's characters are heroic and vulnerable, smart and hot-blooded. The romance rings true and the action sings with excitement: the climax literally comes down to the executioner's scaffold in the penultimate chapter. Fans of romance and the Round Table genre will be swept up in the plot. Ages 12-up.
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