Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Review: Nine Kingdoms Novellas by Lynn Kurland

So, I'm starting my re-read of the Nine Kingdoms series by Lynn Kurland, anxious to go re-visit Miach and Morgan - but I couldn't jump in without reading these two short story prequels.

Title: "A Whisper of Spring"
Series: Nine Kingdoms, Book 0.25
Genre: Fantasy Romance

Symon of Neroche is sitting in his home, which is more of a hunting lodge, contemplating the problems from the north of his kindgom when in walks an unexpected guest. An elf, banished from his homeland, comes asking for help in rescuing his sister, Iolaire - princess of Ainneamh.

Iolaire was stolen from her home, banished by default for leaving - regardless if it's against her will - and stuck in Lothar, the black mage of Wychweald's dungeon. Her choices seem slim, become Lothar's wife, or die like her cousin.

Symon quickly agrees to attempt to save a woman he has secretly dreamed about for years, though it may mean his life in trade.

Lynn Kurland long ago become one of my favorite authors for her smart, witty, sweet romances. I can't help but love her characters. Symon is charming, gentlemanly, and incredibly kind - on top of being a very, very powerful mage. Even that might not be enough against Lothar, but he still instantly agrees to go rescue Iolaire. Granted his reasons might have some small personal reason, but I know he'd have gone anyway. What I really love about Iolaire is that she's strong - she, in the end, can save herself. And she's not afraid to stand up against her overbearing brother either. Which is pretty humorous.

I always, always, always, end up laughing when I'm reading these stories. The banter between the characters just makes me chuckle.

Reading the Nine Kingdoms series is a bit like coming home to a comfortable fire, listening to and chatting with great friends.

Grade: A-

Title: "The Tale of the Two Swords"
Series: Nine Kingdoms, Book 0.5
Genre: Fantasy Romance

Mehar of Angesand is fleeing from home, running to the palace, looking for help deciphering her mother's book of spells from the king or his mage. Her abrupt departure, leaving her betrothed in the dust, ends up with her having a price on her head and men on her trail. When she finally does arrive at the palace it's to find it in ruins, with just two men, apparently servants, Gil and Alcuin, lingering.

Gil doesn't correct her belief, wanting to be simple Gil - perhaps named after his father's favorite hound - instead of Gilraehan the Fey, Prince of Neroche...King, in fact with his father recently dead. Gil's looking for a bit of peace to figure things out after the devastating defeat his family suffered against Lothar of Wychweald.

When Mehar shows up, Gil begins to wish that he could perhaps choose differently than has been planned for him - no more so than when his intended shows up at the palace after just a few short days of getting to know Mehar.

Having read Star of the Morning before this, I heard about The Tale of the Two Swords extensively, and was ecstatic to see the story (within a story) presented here. It's everything it is promised to be - full of romance, and intrigue, with danger lurking just there. The writing is typical of Lynn Kurland, strong men with courtly manners; women who have more power than they realize and the desire and ability to use it and fantastic banter that makes me grin.

"I suppose," she said pulling back, "that you'll need someone about you to remind you you're merely a man when you begin to take yourself too seriously."

"And you won't?" he asked, cocking his head to one side.

She shook her head. "I am your warp threads, my liege, ever fixed in my affections. Let someone else correct your pattern. My task is to wrap you in peace and comfort, not strip you of it."

*sighs happily*

"I need a sword, Gil. I'll need some way to guard your back. To guard my own if you're guarding our children. I could weave things into it."

He looked at her quietly for a moment or two, then nodded. "As you will, love."

Grade: A-

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