"The Wizard's Ward" by Deborah Hale
I blame this book for my drowsiness this morning. I had to stay up to finish the end of this book or I would never have been able to sleep.
Maura Woodbury, an enchantress, has always led a quiet life...until her uncle announces that she is to be queen of all Umbria and she has to make her way to the Secret Glade and awaken the Waiting King who will drive the evil Han from Umbria forever and restore peace to all the land.
Just when Maura begins to accept her fate, no one counted on Rath Talward, a rouge thief Maura happens upon one day, injured and on the run from Hanish law. Maura cannot abandon him in his time of need and eventually they strike up a bargain: Healing for protection on her trip to the Secret Glade.
Their journey is not a stroll through the park however. Hannish soldiers wait at every turn to drag them off to the dreaded mines as slaves, bandits hide in the underbrush, and evil sorcerers dog their steps everywhere they go. Yet throughout all this, they learn to put their differences aside and depend on...maybe even love one another...
At first, I wasn't sure about this book. It started off deadly slow and I had to force myself through the first chapter. After that however, the book picked up speed and I really started to get into it. The more I read, the more I liked it. The characters are likable and very real-feeling. Hale is a master of sexual tension as well, and you can feel the underlying note of it throughout the entire book, goading the reader onward, if only to find out if the guy gets the girl in the end.
Despite being your basic love story/impossible journey fantasy book, this novel whet my appetite for more and I can't wait to read the next book in the series.
One small gripe: Hale likes to kind of skip over some stuff. It's slightly J. K. Rowlingish in a sense. Rath blacks out a lot, so next time we see him he's tied to a chair or something, and there are "lapses" of several days between chapters which start out: "The past few days were uneventful." Personally I could have done with some more info than that, but the rest of the book and the general plot make up for these small things.
Four and 1/2 stars.
This book was not the greatest. It took me a very long time to get through it. I read 4 other books before I actually sat down and finished this book.
One of the two or three worst fantasy novels I've read. Trite, hackneyed story not even suitable for pre-teens. Simply terrible.
I really enjoyed this book as a change of pace. I don't ready fantasy often.
Most love stories have the couple meet and wham! 4 paragraphs later they're in love forever and ever, which I've always found to be quite eye-rolling. This story was different--the two main characters fell in love over the course of the book as they journeyed on the quest, forming a lasting partnership after saving one another's lives again and again. It was a refreshing change, and well done. The ending seemed a little rushed but overall a good book.