The book starts off with a fight with a dragon. Prince Zehava prepares to fight his 10th dragon while his wife and her twin sister plan his son’s future. Melanie Rawn’s descriptions are vivid and engaging. The plot starts out deep and complex, and remains fast paced. Overall though I have mixed feelings about this book. I loved the first half, but I felt the second half of the book didn’t live up to the promise of the first part.

Front Cover

The first part sets up the conflict. Zehava’s heir, Rohan, ascends to the throne unexpectedly quickly and faces threats from desert assassins, and High Prince Roelstra, eager to get his hands on his princedom. Then there’s Sioned, a farad’him (magic user), sent by Lady Andrade to be his bride.

The book starts out promising lots of political intrigue and plots. Also dragons. I felt it only somewhat lived up to this promise. Rohan describes his plans in detail, but how he actually accomplishes them is only briefly brushed over. The worst example of this is in the interlude, where 6 years go by, important things happen and a couple of characters die –  in about 3 pages. That could have been a book on his own. I felt all these details got lost in the focus on Rohan and the romantic plot between Sioned, the girl he wants to marry, and Roelstra’s daughters, the girls Roelstra really wants him to marry. This would have been fine if I hadn’t been expecting a different kind of story with a different focus.

In terms of characterization, the bad guys in the story are almost ridiculously bad, there aren’t any shades of grey here with Roelstra and his daughter Ianthe. The good parts of the book though are Melanie Rawns descriptions. I really enjoy her writing style and how she sketches out her world, even if I ended up disappointed in the plot.

Overall, I was somewhat disappointed with this book, only because the first section was so good. Throughout though the story moves fairly quickly and the descriptions are visually appealing. It ended up being less complex than I wanted, and if you enjoy stories with clear good and bad guys and a focus on the character’s romantic relationships more so than the political intrigue promised in the beginning, you could very much enjoy this book.