I am so overwhelmed by this book, I could weep! After falling in love with so many of Amy Harmon’s dazzling tales, I am no longer surprised by how easily she always pulls me in with her storytelling, but I remain forever in awe of the way she composes her words so exquisitely, each time delivering a fresh, gripping, electrifying work of art that never fails to take my breath away. And for someone who so rarely reads Fantasy novels, I found myself loving both books in this truly extraordinary series an awful lot. This is slowly but surely becoming my favourite series from this author.
“I have been hated before. But I don’t know if I’ve been loved. I think . . . once . . . I must have been, because I know how to love.”
“Do you know how to hate? If you don’t know how to hate, how could you possibly know how to love?”
“I don’t have to know how to die to know how to live.”
We return to the land of Jeru with the story of Kjell, Captain of the King’s Guard and half-brother of King Tiras. Though older, Kjell has never been envious of his beloved brother or the throne that Tiras ascended as late King Zoltev’s only legitimate son. He’s never wanted a life of riches or a land to rule, always feeling happiest watching his brother’s back or losing himself in the heat of battle. Because Kjell has always known he was born to be a warrior. But since discovering he also possesses the Gift of a Healer, Kjell has been struggling to reconcile the man he’s always known to be with the one he is slowly learning to become.
He was a warrior. He was not a man who loved or nurtured. He’d been given a gift that was so at odds with who he was that he wanted to howl in frustration and sink his sword into something lethal.
While on a mission to find any lost vestiges of the vile enemy they fought and defeated, Kjell comes across the broken body of a crimson-haired woman lying at the bottom of a cliff. Drawn to the weakening flicker of life that her body is stubbornly clinging to despite her deadly injuries, Kjell uses his Gift to heal her. And while doing so, he makes her a promise he never expected she would hold him to.
“Come to me, and I will try to love you. I will try to love you, if you but come back.”
Sasha’s earliest memory is that of being sold as a slave to a place that would never treat her as one of their own, a place that, four years later, would drive her to flee for her life. She has no memory of her family, of ever being loved by anyone, or even knowing how to love another. Her Gift shows her the future, while her past remains nothing more than a dark void that keeps plaguing her young mind. So when a blue-eyed stranger breathes life back into her, bringing her back from the brink of death with the promise of what she desires the most, she ties herself to him in every possible way, refusing to leave his side and guarding his life with her own.
“You said if I came back . . . you would try to love me.”
As she joins Kjell and his men on their mission, Sasha’s visions guide them and keep them safe from peril, while her nighttime stories give them reprieve from the dangers facing them each day. As they learn to trust her with their own lives, Kjell’s men become increasingly protective of their new ward, but Sasha only has eyes for one of them, and as much as he fights his feelings for her, Kjell is soon just as besotted with Sasha as she is with the young Captain.
“Thank you,” she sighed into his mouth. He withdrew slightly, just enough to glower down at her.
“You are thanking me for kissing you?”
“Yes. Every time you do it, I’m afraid you will never do it again.”
But just as life is about to give them both a new beginning, it just as quickly takes it all away, the sudden unveiling of Sasha’s past leaving them both heartbroken. A new adventure begins for them both, one neither of them wished for or expected to find, but through it all, one constant remains in both their hearts—a love than might be forbidden, but that only keeps shining brighter and brighter, even as their every step forward takes them further and further away from one another. And when danger finds them again, that love becomes their only beacon of hope.
“I would be the court jester and wear striped hose and paint on my face if it meant I could be near you.”
While I was tempted at times to flip through the pages of this glorious story as fast as my eyes would let me, my love of Amy Harmon’s writing made me savour her every beautiful word, her every poetic expression, her every exquisite scene, as long as I could. I was moved by how selflessly and absolutely Kjell and Sasha loved one another, even when everything was stacked against them, and by how much they were both willing to sacrifice to make the other happy. Their love story overshone all other aspects of this grand adventure in my eyes, making this not only one of the most thrilling books I’ve read of late, but one of the most deeply romantic ones, too. I hope to return to the land of Jeru many more times in the future, because when you find a series this perfect, you hope it never ends.
“It was not your face I fell in love with. It was not your great, sad eyes or your soft mouth, or the gold flecks on your skin or the shape of your body.” His heart quaked and his stomach tightened, acknowledging that he relished those things too. “I fell in love with you in pieces. Layer by layer, day by day, inch by inch.”