In the first part of this book, Chime, a peasant girl whose family owns an orchard, discovers she has magical powers. Because she has the strongest powers in the land, she must marry Muller, the prince and soon to be king. Although neither want to marry at first, they grow to love one another, but there is a problem. Neither Chime nor Muller would make very good rulers, and their country, Aronsdale, needs good rulers, because the king of a neighboring country wants to take over their country for its riches. This king has a very powerful mage of his own that can oppose them.
Then Iris, another mage, find Jarid, the true heir to the throne, and Muller and Chime believe their country will be saved. Unfortunately, almost all the powerful mages in their country have some sort of flaw in their abilites, and all need to learn how to control those abilities if they are to oppose the mage and army that is coming to invade Aronsdale. If you read Asaro's short story "Moonglow" (in the anthology Charmed Destinies) you'll not only recognize some of the characters, but some of the story as well. The events in that short story occur about half way through this book, and some parts of the story are included word for word. It's not necessary to have read the short story to enjoy this book.
This report prepared by Melissa Cookson
Luna, Feb 2004, 13.95, 471 pp.
When the King and his retinue came to Jacob's Vale searching for mages, Chine tried to hide since she didn't want to leave the family orchard and go to Castle Suncroft. Della No-Cozen, the mage-mistress immediately saw how much power she had and persuaded her to come to the castle to learn how to use her abilities properly. The king's nephew and heir, Prince Muller is expected to marry Chine, but he doesn't want to wed anyone nor become king.
Chine also doesn't want to be queen and the thought of marrying the prince is ludicrous until she comes to know him. Muller quickly falls in love with his betrothed but Della finds Iris, another mage more powerful than Chine and Iris locates Javid the king's grandson thought to have died fourteen years ago. Muller and Chine are both chagrined and happy to realize they won't be monarchs but they still have a very important role to play in the kingdom. King Varquelle of Harsdown plans to invade and annex the land of Aronsdale with the help of his powerful mage, Anvil and it will take the special powers of Chine and Muller to stop them if they can learn to control their magic.
Readers will love this epic romantic fantasy that reads like an adult fairy tale. There are two couples who must overcome many obstacles before they can admit their love for one another and it is fascinating watching them slowly mature into heroic figures to be admired. This is a very different kind of work than Catherine Asara's science fiction novels involving the Skalian Empire, but this novel is just as engrossing and enthralling.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner