Gate to Kandrith
by Nicole Luiken
Carina Press – 5.99
I thought this novel was great.
It starts with a bang as Sara is prepared to assassinate the priest of the God of War if he –as she expects–withholds the blessing that her father needs as the new Primus of the Republic of Temboria. Withholding his blessing would be a death sentence, and Sara would do anything to protect her small family.
During a narrow escape from a undesirable suitor who drugged her with an aphrodisiac, Sara meets Lance, who she at first mistakes for a slave. She could not have been more wrong. Since she is under the effect of the aphrodisiac, she behaves somewhat (cough) inappropriately, but Lance is the gentleman, and he saves the day and disappears.
How can she help falling in love with him?
Turns out, he’s a Child of Peace. And the next day, her father asks her to become a Child of Peace herself as the Ambassador to Slaveland, aka Kandrith. She also has a secret mission–to learn the secret of Slave Magic, which her father is very afraid of. What follows is an adventurous journey with Lance, at the end of which she learns just what it means to be a Child of Peace, at which time she has to grow up in a hurry.
Nothing goes as you would expect. People you think are loyal turn out to not be so, and people you expect to betray Sara turn out to be steadfast. People you think are pitiless monsters turn out to be good guys, and good guys turn out to be pitiless monsters.
I was worried by the early aphrodisiac scene that this novel would be way more erotic than I expected or desired, but it surprised me. There are sex several scenes, but only after a very long romance building, and they certainly were not excessive. I will call out one rather crude groping; you are warned.
The amazing thing about this book is it is 134,000 words, and yet I read it in just a few days. The character development is amazing, and even a secondary character gets to have a major turnaround. There are surprises in this novel that will keep you guessing until the very last scenes.
And dang–I have not even said anything about the magic system. Suffice it to say that you have never seen anything like this before. It is the most poignant magic system I have ever read. And what about that fabulous escape! It was the best one I’ve read in a great while.
If you like epic fantasy, you will probably like this novel despite the naughty scenes. They are brief. If you like fantasy romance, this is something you will like. I highly recommend it. Five stars!