Blurb (from Goodreads):
It has been only two generations since Arthur Warden seized the throne of Heddred from the Conradines, and now the crown rests on the head of Garad, sickly and weak. Shadows gather: legacies of the centuries-long rivalries for power, old betrayals, the endless plots of the courtiers, and the murmur of rebellion in the southern provinces...
Catwin, plucked from her life at the edge of the Kingdom, is thrust abruptly into the world of the Court when she is chosen by the Duke of Voltur to be a Shadow-spy, shield, and blade-to his niece, the Lady Miriel DeVere. The Duke's ruthlessness is legendary, and he will stop at nothing to become the power behind the throne, using Miriel as a pawn to catch Garad's heart.
But the Duke's carefully-laid plans are only a piece of the intrigue of the court, and greater forces than Catwin can imagine are massed against her, determined to eliminate Miriel and impose a new order of their own. If Catwin and Miriel are to survive, they must learn quickly who to trust, and when to turn their skills against the very people who have trained them...
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(Source: Download for free on kindle from Amazon.co.uk.)
14-year-old Catwin was only minutes old when her mother spoke a prophecy that one day she would be betrayed, and sent her to the castle to be raised by the wet nurse there. Now at the age of 14, Catwin has been selected by the Duke’s assassin Temar to become like him – a shadow.
Now Catwin stands to play a part in what will soon come to pass. She must become to the Duke’s niece and heir (Miriel –also 14), what the Temar is to the duke – his shadow, his protector, his assassin. Catwin must learn to know everybody whilst escaping notice herself, to blend into the shadows where no one can see her, and to eavesdrop at all times.
Can Catwin keep Miriel safe? What are the Duke’s plans for Miriel? And is Miriel really destined to marry the King?
This was a really good fantasy story about two quite different girls, and their differing positions in life.
Catwin was a strong character who learned quickly, and knew how to trust her instincts. I felt quite sorry for her that her mother had basically abandoned her, and that she really had very few people who even knew her, never mind loved her, but Catwin wasn’t the sort of girl who wallowed in self-pity, she knew what she needed to do, and she did it, even when it meant putting her own life in danger.
Miriel started off as a very spoiled child. She came across as quite snooty, and it wasn’t ‘til quite a way into the story that we began to see her true colours, and learned exactly what it was that she was dealing with. I thought that her uncle the duke was quite harsh on her, although I suppose he was that way with everyone. He did seem to impose really strict rules on both Miriel and Catwin though, and was happy to dish out punishments when he felt he had been disobeyed.
I liked the storyline in this book, and I managed to keep up with it most of the way. I did get a little confused over talks of different monarchs, and different strategies in the upcoming war, but mainly the story was straightforward, and I knew what was going on most of the time.
The ending of this was quite enlightening, although the ending was a bit of a cliff-hanger too unfortunately, it seems that we will have to read the next book if we want to find out what happens to Miriel and Catwin next, and who the king will marry.
Overall; a good YA fantasy story.
7.5 out of 10.