Don’t trust your guards. Or your friends. Or your relatives.
Disclaimer – this book is second in the series, I did not read the first.
Prince Harkheld has to save the world. He’s OK with that, not so OK that he has to do it with fire magic. Witches are treacherous and not to be trusted, how could he be one? One of the witches with him tells him he absolutely must learn to control his magic before he kills someone by mistake, but someone will take away all of his magic after he saves the world.
That seems reasonable, so Harkheld starts his magic lessons, and he’s a prodigy in strength and speed of learning. Slowly, he starts to think that maybe the witches are not so bad, maybe he’d like a little more training after the world is saved – execpt that of course he won’t be a witch anymore, will he? Hmmm. Maybe. Meanwhile, they’re slogging through mud and rain and forest and bad food, to reach the Stone which anchors the curse.
Meanwhile, in luxury in the palace, Princess Brigitta is worried about her brother, alone with all the witches. She’s just been widowed from a forced marriage where the Duke her husband raped her all the time, and now the new King wants to marry her off to someone else for his own political gain, will she or nil she. Brigitta’s maid is a bond-servant, read a woman who can be freely raped. (Do you notice I used that word twice? it’s all over the place in Brigitta’s scenes.)
Brigitta wants to escape. She needs to take certain people with her. Another bond-servant who hates the palace will help her, complete with (necessary?) over-dramatic death-scenes. They plan, they succeed, they escape. The reader, not being totally stupid, knows that something is going to go wrong at some point – and if the escape worked perfectly, the safe place won’t be safe. And it’s not – but the twist was nicely done.
So the princess is busy plotting, and Prince Harkheld is busy getting to the place where he can save the world, when he finds out that the witches are not giving him any privacy. At all. AWWWWKWWWWWARD. (But a really fun scene to read.) So he doesn’t trust them, again, despite the magic lessons. Meanwhile, after his rant about privacy and humiliation, the witch who likes him best tricks him into talking about telling intimate information about himself … but he doesn’t realize what she’s doing. Wait until he finds out, after all the growth he does in this book, that treacherous witches are treacherous.
Yeah, that’s gonna be fun.
Not the best book ever, but I’m going to read the sequel. Take away one star for treacherous witches not being a fanatic accusation but actual truth.