The Sentinel Mage (The Cursed Kingdoms #1)
by Emily Gee
published by Solaris
genre: Adult, Fantasy,
Summary (Goodreads): Her magic may be the only thing that can save a prince—and the Seven Kingdoms.
In a distant corner of the Seven Kingdoms, an ancient curse festers and grows, consuming everything in its path. Only one man can break it: Harkeld of Osgaard, a prince with mage’s blood in his veins. But Prince Harkeld has a bounty on his head—and assassins at his heels.
Innis is a gifted shapeshifter. Now she must do the forbidden: become a man. She must stand at Prince Harkeld’s side as his armsman, protecting and deceiving him.
But the deserts of Masse are more dangerous than the assassins hunting the prince. The curse has woken deadly creatures, and the magic Prince Harkeld loathes may be the only thing standing between him and death.
My Thoughts: We follow three different but connected stories in this book.. There is the main story of Prince Harkeld and the mages trying to get him to the first alter stone to break the curse. Then there's his sister her maid and her armsman trying to get her through the marriage that her father has forced her into. Lastly (or first) we follow a little boy who is fleeing from his home village where the curse first showed up and ends up in a very interesting place by the time the story ends.
While I liked the mages and wanted to learn more about them, I did not like Prince Harkeld or how easily Innis (who is supposed to be the strongest mage) not only seemed to become attached to him she also seemed ready to lose herself to the shape she is keeping to guard the prince. Both these things seemed to contradict the strong female/mage image that we kept being told.
Princess Britta on the other hand seemed to hold onto what made her a great princess and interesting character even when she was not fully herself.
I thought the story of the 8 yr old was interesting and cannot wait to see how where he ended up affects the other story lines.
Overall, this was a great epic fantasy set in a world that hates magic and that fact is coming back to destroy them. The trials that they had to go through just to get to the first stone were very demanding and cost a lot to their group. I cannot wait to read more, hopefully soon (no word on when the second book is supposed to come out).