Golding, who penned the Cat Royal series, proves in this first title in a new series that she is as equally adept with fantasy as she is with mystery. Trouble is brewing in the Known Worlds. King Lagan ac Burinholt, desperately hoping to gain allies, arranges a marriage between his son, Ramil, and Taoshira, Fourth Crown Princess of the Blue Crescent Islands. The betrothed pair loathe each other on sight, but after they are both kidnapped, the story takes off. Descriptions of the Known Worlds are vivid and include intricate religions and fascinating political machinations. It is clear from the start that Ramil and Tashi will fall in love, and their evolving relationship powers the story. The cast of characters is large and appealing, especially a circus strongman and a horse with immense personality. Golding ramps up the action with plenty of danger, battles, and narrow escapes, and she nicely resolves her various plotlines in a satisfying conclusion. Perfect for fans of political fantasies like Hilari Bell's Farsala Trilogy books.--Rutan, Lynn Copyright 2009 Booklist
Gr 8 Up-Establishing one's sense of self, working and sacrificing for a greater purpose, and accepting and understanding people's differences are all strong themes in this British import. The arranged marriage between the reserved and disciplined Princess Taoshira, 16, and the rogue Prince Ramil, 18, is not an appealing prospect to either teen. But their lands need to form a strong bond of diplomatic connections in order to fend off attacks from the bloodthirsty warlord Fergox Spearthrower, and they have been called upon to do what is right for their people. Their relationship gets off to a disastrous start and goes downhill from there. Taoshira is put off by his brash and loud behavior that fails to recognize or respect her values and traditions while Ramil finds her cold, unworthy of her title, and completely unappealing. When the two are kidnapped, a riveting adventure ensues and opposites attract. Although the arc of the love story is fairly standard, the subplots make it an engaging read for a variety of readers. Romance, trickery, graphic and bloody fight scenes, adventure, religious persecution, and politics are all a part of this compelling tale.-Genevieve Gallagher, Buford Middle School, Charlottesville, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.