She’ll betray her country to save lives, but can she betray her best friend too?
Celoven Windess has been groomed since birth to serve her best friend, Princess Naruné, as her Stone Maiden: her closest aide and confidant in all royal matters. The king’s failing health forces the princess to begin a reign she never wanted, and Cel must be there to guide her.
After a catastrophe, the full weight of responsibility comes down on the untested princess. Hard choices need to be made, affecting the lives of their people, the other nations on the planet, and their colonies on other worlds.
When Cel disagrees with the princess’s decisions, both diplomatically and in matters of the heart, she’s approached by someone who agrees with her and wants to help. How far will Celoven go to do what she knows is right?
In his debut, Abofsky demonstrates rich world building. Epions, Pelosians, and Malens each have their own strengths that make them feel superior to each other and the amalgans, creating shifting alliances and dynamics that help move the story forward as First General Hirkain forms a relationship with Naruné that gives his people access to mines to build evacuation ships for leaving the planet. (Like her friend Sun, Celoven doubts Hirkain’s motives.)
Telling the story from the point of view of multiple characters gives readers a strong sense of the complicated relationships between individuals and the different groups, as well as the political and social dynamics. Ankeros’s leaders, coming from military, monarchical, and democratic societies, can either work together or fight separately for survival. Keeping up with everything can be a challenge for them and for readers alike, as the story’s scope and its large cast can be demanding, though Celoven makes a compelling central figure. Abofsky limits the number of unnecessary scenes, a wise decision given the complexity of the novel and its varied perspectives, and provides a nice conclusion to the story while setting up well for a second book in the series.
Takeaway: Sci-fi and fantasy fans alike will enjoy rich worldbuilding as four different groups must either work together or fight separately for survival.
Great for fans of: Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, Sally Green’s The Smoke Thieves series.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+