Thursday, October 1, 2015

Review: The Mage's Daughter by Lynn Kurland

Title: The Mage's Daughter
Author: Lynn Kurland
Series: Nine Kingdoms, Book 2 (Trilogy 1, Book 2)
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Release Date: 2 January 2008

Please see my review of Star of the Morning, Book 1 in the series if you haven't read it already.

Lynn Kurland’s trilogy of love, intrigue, and fantastic destiny continues as a female mercenary fights for her life, her future, and the one man who can save her...

Darkness in the kingdom...

Neroche is under assault by a magic that has stripped its king of his powers and unleashed nightmarish creatures in a war of evil in which Morgan of Melksham is fighting for her life. Recovering from a near-fatal attack, Morgan realizes that she must decide between two fates: that of being a simple shieldmaiden or accepting her heritage as an elven princess. If only she could ignore that she was the daughter of the perilous black mage of Ceangail...

Magic in the blood...

Duty bound to aid his king, Miach of Neroche is torn between what his responsibilities demand and what his heart desires. He is willing to risk his life to rescue Morgan from the darkness that haunts her, but he must do so at the peril of his realm. Forced to choose between love and the burden of his mantle, Miach sets out on his most deadly quest ever.

I said in my review of the first book that I have a hard time reviewing these. And I do. I think this one may be even harder for me.

There are flaws - these books would not pass a Bechdel test by any stretch of the imagination. Miach tries to make decisions for Morgan, which nearly results in tragedy (thankfully she quickly puts him in his place). And it's a transition book - there are things happening, but really it's all about getting to the final act of the story.

That all being said, I still love this book. It's FULL (to bursting) of romance. If the romance was light in the first book, it's here in abundance. I love watching Morgan and Miach figure out the definition of their relationship and how they're going to be going forward. It's sweet, and sigh-worthy, and absolutely beautiful.

Morgan may seem like a bit of a different person in this book than the first. But it's really just her getting to know herself. She has a bunch of shocks (you might remember from the end of the Star of the Morning), and most of those are dealt out in the first 30% of the book. That the hits and needs keep coming throughout the book does nothing to really let Morgan gain her balance. But she does, as she always has, through determination and strength. I think what I appreciate most about her in this book is that she is intensely vulnerable (after her convalescence) and yet she's never treated as inferior in any way.

Miach continues to be one of the best male characters I've ever read. He consistently makes it on my top 5 list of heroes, but it's not because he's an ALPHA, or a BARRONS, or an ass (which, let's face it - those guys definitely can be). It's because he's absolutely honorable, stead-fast, and kind. He's funny, down-to-earth, and honestly cares. He gives and worries little for himself. Though he does make me mad at one point in this book (listed earlier), he quickly realizes the error of his ways. I can forgive him. I get why he did it, even when I didn't like it. So when he finally realizes that it wasn't the right decision, and honestly apologizes, I'm good again.

Characters tend to be the number one reason I read. They'll keep me engaged when all else is failing. And there are a number of secondary characters here that I truly enjoy (Sosar, Turah and Weger to name a few). They added to the tapestry of Morgan and Miach's world in such an interesting way.

I did say that this was pretty much a transition book. While reading it, I am never bored. There's always battles and rushing from this to that, or something happening that needs to be seen to. But looking back? Not so much happened. We delved deeper into characters' histories, and learned more about the task to come. We traveled and had misunderstandings. We had a few battles, gained a few enemies, saw a few taken care of. And, of course, we had the incredibly satisfying romance of Morgan and Miach.

Don't worry, if the romance and middle-book-syndrome turns you off, the last book is well worth it. There's a LOT that happens in it, and I can't wait to dive into it again.

Grade: A-

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