Being no stranger to Lynn Kurland’s sweet time travel romances, I was naturally delighted to discover that she has published two romantic fantasy works under the Nine Kingdoms trilogy and needed no persuasion to get the series.
Turns out Star of the Morning and The Mage’s Daughter were every bit as brilliant as the back covers promised. Readers who were introduced to her novellas in To Weave a Web of Magic and The Queen in Winter would be thrilled at these two full length novels.
I was simply enchanted by this tale of dragons and mages, elves and warriors, woven around a romance that is as sweet and chaste as the Arthurian tales of knight errands and chivalry. Lynn Kurland peppered the story with her trademark subtle humour, timeless ideals of romance and honour, powered by her lyrical prose, interesting plot turns which make this tale of adventurous quests an epic fantasy worth staying up late for just to finish the last page. And the witty quips she gives to her characters. They’ve entertained me far more than I dare to admit — just ask my bewildered husband, who thought I’d gone mad, chuckling while reading the books.
Having re-read both books right after the first round, I’m already eagerly anticipating the concluding story in the next book. No news of the title and release date on the author’s website, but I reckon end this year or sooner.
So, for those who’ve yet to pick up the books, here’s a synopsis:
The series is centred around two main characters, the practical mercenary Morgan, who shuns magic, and the clever archmage Miach, brother to King Adhemar of Neroche. The sorcerer kings of Neroche have long wielded the magical Sword of Neroche but on one fateful day, Adhemar lost his connection to the magic of the land. Now as darkness gathers over the land with the insidious assault of the dreaded black mage, his only hope is to find the one destined to wield the other magical blade in his kingdom, the Sword of Angesand, which was forged by a powerful sorceress Queen Mehar.
Travelling in disguise while on his quest to find his sword wielder, Adhemar soon met up with Morgan, who was given an errand by her benefactor to deliver something precious to the King of Neroche. Somehow, Morgan gained an entourage for her journey that included a dwarf, a half-elf, a fellow mercenary and the king himself. During an attack by ensorcelled fiends and creatures of dark magic, she accidentally called forth the magic of Adhemar’s sword, which intrigued Miach, who happened to be checking on his elder brother.
Drawn to her refreshing honesty and innocence, Miach eventually lost his heart to her, but as more and more attacks followed, he began to wonder if Morgan has more magic in her blood than even she suspected. Morgan admired the man Miach without suspecting that he was one of the most powerful young mages in the Nine Kingdoms. The day she learnt of his true identity, fate came knocking in the form of an old family enemy who wanted her dead or gone, and Morgan ended up mortally wounded.
The Mage’s Daughter opens with Morgan fighting to regain her strength and coming to realise that she must decide soon who she really wanted to be: continue her life as an ordinary shield maiden or accept her heritage as an elven princess, even though she’s also the daughter of the dangerous black mage of Ceangail.
Miach, in an attempt to win her back, stormed the magic vacuum of Grobhann, a mercenary training school where Morgan sought refuge, and set himself to honing his already considerable swordsmanship. While juggling his royal duties as the kingdom’s archmage and wooing his lady fair, Miach came to realise that he would risk his own life to keep Morgan safe from the dark evil that hunts her, even if he must do so at the peril of his realm. Together, the two of them set off on their deadly quest to uncover her past and claim her future.
I’ll stop here so you can go but the book and read them yourself. Oh, and here are two of the dialogues that had me chuckling to myself.
“With all due respect, Your Majesty,” Miach said, sounding as if he were holding on to his patience only barely, “you’re wrong. I have seen what hunts your granddaughter. I have set my own spells of ward within your borders–”
“You set WHAT!” Sile roared.
“I didn’t do it for you,” Miach roared back. . . .
“How dare you invade my land and pollute it with your magic… Wexham, Croxteth – what manner of bilge did you use? Olc?” Sile finished with a sneer. “Fadaire,” Miach said quietly, “strengthened with Camanae and a great deal of my own power.”
“Fadaire?” Sile thundered. “And how in the HELL do you know enough of that–”
“I’ve been in your private books,” Miach shouted back, “and I’ve spent the past three days and nights memorizing every last bloody spell I could lay my greedy hands on!”
The Fight between Miach and Cruadal, one of Morgan’s suitors:
“You don’t actually think Miach will lose, do you?” he asked in surprise. “Good heavens, Mhorgain, you have no idea who he truly is.”
“I know who he is,” she muttered.
“Then instead of wringing your hands like a fretful alewife, why don’t you enjoy the spectacle? I can’t imagine he has much call for this sort of display at Tor Neroche.”