Title: Star of the Morning (Nine Kingdoms #1)
Author: Lynn Kurland
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Pub Date: December 2006, Penguin Group
Trade Paperback, 324 pages
Darkness covers the north, since the black mage has begun his assault on the kingdom of Neroche. Legend has it that only the two magical swords held by Neroche's king can defeat the mage. Now the fate of the Nine Kingdoms rests in the hands of a woman destined to wield one of those blades...
In this land of dragons and mages, warrior maids and magical swords, nothing is as it seems. And Morgan will find that the magic in her blood brings her troubles she cannot face with a sword-and a love more powerful than she has ever imagined.
I have been having a lot of luck in the bargain books sections lately. Star of the Morning was one I happened across at B&N and couldn't resist. I'm always up for any fantasy books that sound like they are reminiscent of The Lord of The Rings and full of adventure.
This book did not disappoint. While parts of the plot were perhaps a bit predictable to the genre, Kurland did manage to throw in a few twists and make the story her own. Morgan is a great heroine--you've got to love a strong woman who can stand up to any man and hold their own if not even best him. Kurland did a nice job with the characters as well--there was the usual mixture of humans, dwarves, wizards and elves, though humans are really the primary characters. In the end, the king of Neroche was not characterized at all like I thought he would be (he's a pompous jerk) and I enjoyed that for a change.
Something else I liked was the fact that while this was a book about a struggle between good and evil, you didn't get bogged down in darkness. There are a few battle scenes, but nothing particularly graphic. And naturally, you've got some romance thrown in, though it is just barely blooming and you are left in doubt as to where it will go in the next book. This book is certainly a cliffhanger, as not too much is resolved, though I didn't feel like the book ended too abruptly. If you like fantasy quests, I think you will not be disappointed by Star of the Morning. It's not perfect, and you will likely figure out much of what is going to happen, but it's an easy, enjoyable read with likable characters and an interesting premise.
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