From the New York Times bestselling author comes a breathtaking fantasy of a cursed kingdom, warring clans, and unexpected salvation.
Bayr of Saylok, bastard son of a powerful and jealous chieftain, is haunted by the curse once leveled by his dying mother. Bartered, abandoned, and rarely loved, she plagued the land with her words: From this day forward, there will be no daughters in Saylok.
Raised among the Keepers at Temple Hill, Bayr is gifted with inhuman strength. But he’s also blessed with an all-too-human heart that beats with one purpose: to protect Alba, the first girl child born in nearly two decades and the salvation for a country at risk.
Now the fate of Saylok lies with Alba and Bayr, whose bond grows deeper with every whisper of coming chaos. Charged with battling the enemies of their people, both within and without, Bayr is fueled further by the love of a girl who has defied the scourge of Saylok.
What Bayr and Alba don’t know is that they each threaten the king, a greedy man who built his throne on lies, murder, and betrayal. There is only one way to defend their land from the corruption that has overtaken it. By breaking the curse, they could defeat the king…but they could also destroy themselves.
I love Amy Harmon. When I saw a new title from her, I was excited. After I read the blurb, I couldn’t wait to read the book! So you can’t imagine my happiness when I got the ARC thanks to Netgalley!
It’s a difficult book to review. It takes place in a span of many years. If I have to keep it simple – it all starts with a curse of no girl child on a land by a scorned woman dying after childbirth. It’s a world that follows the Norse mythology. So there are ancient runes, warrior clans, temples, and what not.
I’ll attempt to break down the plot by talking about the main characters. And there are plenty of them. So keep patience!
Desdemona – After her lover rejects her unborn son, in greed of marrying a princess and becoming future king, this warrior woman leaves a dying curse on her land, with her brother as her witness.
Dagmar – A keeper of the temple, Dagmar is the only one who knows about the curse that has caused his land to be daughter-less. He raises his nephew in the temple. It is his love and protectiveness for his nephew, that compels him to hide the secrets behind the curse.
Ghost – Ghost is the slave who gives birth to a daughter for the first time in 7 years. But the king steals her daughter and claims her as his own. Resigned to the fact that her daughter is better off as the princess, Ghost is forced to see from afar her daughter growing up.
Bayr – Bayr does not know that he is the bastard son of the king he serves. Due to the curse, Bayr is also inhumanely strong and stutters when speaking. When a 7 year old Bayr meets the newborn princess for the first time, he’s dazzled. After he is assigned the princess’s bodyguard due to his physical strength, he doesn’t let her out of his sight for a moment.
Alba – Alba is the slave’s daughter but raised as a princess. Only the king and Ghost knows about her true identity. She is seen as a symbol of hope for the land. She is exceptionally attached to Bayr who dotes on her.
It’s an intricate plot where, every character has a part to play. No character is flawless. Every one of them have their weaknesses and selfish desires which affect not only the individuals but everyone else too. I also love how there is a unique dynamic between every character. It’s a complex web of lies and secrets that makes the plot all the more intriguing.
Also, after a long time I found such an impactful book villain. I can’t count the number of times I felt like killing that evil king. Even his name (Banruud) got on my nerves.
The world building was brilliant here. It’s a huge book. But I can’t think of one page or scene that felt unnecessary. I am hoping that Amy Harmon will write more stories in this universe. I would love more fantasy books like this!
Publication Date: 20th August, 2018.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)