In all honesty this is my first book from this author but I heard a lot of good things about her writing and after reading C.L. Wilson- Winter king this one got recommended to me. So I was like why not? I was in the mood for a little high fantasy anyway.
Let’s start with the good. The world building is absolutely amazing. Sharon Shinn created such an intricate and complex world for her story that it’s fascinating. There are a lot of different elements for it and every part of the hierarchy, the belief system, the social life and even the geography is so detailed. There is a lot of interesting and original idea in it. The belief system is really interesting but after a while it also becomes a bit overwhelming. It’s mentioned constantly and kind of rules the life of peoples and brands them from birth. I found it a bit much.
The whole plot is more or less devoted to the secrets and intrigue of the court life and society. Unfortunately the book is quite long, longer than the story needs and the storyline is not just slow as hell but boring at times too. At least I found it dragged out and dull. Especially since the big secrets that could have made it exciting and interesting are really predictable and transparent if you pay a little bit of attention. It also labeled as romantic fantasy but the romance is practically nonexistence in it. Yeah there is light flirting in it here and there but the confession at the end came completely out of the blue. During the story I couldn’t find in it anything remotely romantic. Relationship wise the focus is more on the familiar and friendship ones but those are really extensive.
What I also really liked about the story that not every character are created to be beautiful, most of them have flaws and imperfect. This development made the world even more believable.
Zoe the main character is not my favorite one. She is too forgiving, through the story she is kind of indifferent and numb emotionally. Her reactions are so subdued not to mention she runs from every little change in her life. She is not the most decisive person in the world. Also she manages the life in court quite good despite her inexperience and meek personality. Just because your father was good at it and talked a lot about it doesn’t mean you became an expert. So yeah this part of her change is not so realistic for me. Then there is the fact that she only became the brave girl after she found out about her powers not to mention she flaunts them at every turn without thinking of the consequences. She makes bold accusations and demands.
Despite the focus being on Zoe we see quite a bit of Darien, too. He provides the mystery for the story. His intentions and loyalties are a big question during the whole book. I never knew what his next step is going to be.
The other characters are really annoying. They all have double-faced, selfish and egoistical personalities and some of them simply drove me up the wall.
So I loved the world building and the premise of this book but the lack of romantic development and the annoying characters just overshadowed the good parts of the story for me. I was disappointed and don’t think I will read the other books in the series because as I mentioned earlier don’t like the characters they are about.