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Fire burns bright and has a long memory….

Quiet, thoughtful princess Thanh was sent away as a hostage to the powerful faraway country of Ephteria as a child. Now she’s returned to her mother’s imperial court, haunted not only by memories of her first romance, but by worrying magical echoes of a fire that devastated Ephteria’s royal palace.

Thanh’s new role as a diplomat places her once again in the path of her first love, the powerful and magnetic Eldris of Ephteria, who knows exactly what she wants: romance from Thanh and much more from Thanh’s home. Eldris won’t take no for an answer, on either front. But the fire that burned down one palace is tempting Thanh with the possibility of making her own dangerous decisions.

Can Thanh find the freedom to shape her country’s fate—and her own?


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

While I have read and deeply enjoyed Bodard before, this one was a bit of a swing and a miss for me. Initially I really liked it. The world building, especially the magic part, was good and I liked the complexity of the characters. Unfortunately, as the story went on, the characters and relationships became rather simplistic. By the end each person was unequivocally either Good or Bad, and it felt a bit like reading an after school special about proper partners. The main characters consistent inner monologue also did not help since it just went over and over again circling, what felt like, the same three items.

I think, though, that readers that do not mind a bit of insta-love and love triangles will find this a more enjoyable read than I did. If you don’t like those, I suggest trying Bodard’s excellent Servant of the Underworld instead.