Rating: 4.25 stars
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Tracking down the Lord of the Street People is not a sought after job, but Junior Scribe Gareth has no choice. Tasked by the king to deliver a message, Gareth searches high and low until he finally catches Keiran’s attention. Gareth is taken off guard when he realizes Keiran is of royal blood, a bastard child to be precise. After delivering his message, Gareth leaves with Keiran as an escort in search of another scribe to deliver yet another message so he can finally go back to the castle and get away from the Lower District slums.
Keiran has hidden his identity for years, though there is rumor. He can do nothing about that. Strangely attracted to the young scribe, Keiran takes delight in teasing and taunting him. Escorting him to the dwelling of his fellow scribe, Keiran intends to leave him and be on his way, until Gareth finds Damien murdered and the assassin still in his place. Protecting the scribe drags Keiran back into a world he wanted to forget, but he can’t turn his back on the king when assassins are after him.
King Conrad has only ever loved one woman, but that woman was not his wife. His second wife, Larissa, left him while their son, Caluth, was still a child. Conrad never wanted to be king, but when his older brother was killed, he had no choice but to step up. Then when his younger brother disappeared, Conrad was left to rule with no family by his side. Now he is fighting off assassins with a mysterious leader, while his eldest son dallies with an unknown, his daughter battles her newfound talents, and his youngest son, the crown prince, works to become worthy of the throne.
Okay, I know, I know. That’s a vague and rather choppy summary, but there’s SO much to this book and I don’t know how to summarize everything without giving it away. And you don’t want me to give it all away. I promise. This story was more intense than I expected. Well, then ending was. Most of the story is a weave of mystery and wonder. Honestly, I had no idea where it was going. There were times that I was sure I had it figured it out, but then the author would slip something in there that had me doubting not only myself, but the characters. I was unsure who was good and who was bad. And, ohmigod, this book. The mystery and intrigue are reason enough to read it. Add in the two romances and… holy cow.
I was worried that I’d get frustrated with this story. There are several POVs, and as a personal preference, any more than three and I get either confused or bored. Well, kudos to Bard. Not only was I neither confused nor bored, I was enthralled. All five of these characters POVs had me captivated, trapped within this story and not wanting to leave. There is so much happening within the walls of this story and each character plays an integral role in the finale. I loved it. I’m hooked.
When I think of the characters of this story, I think of Gareth and Keiran. Theirs is a story of love/hate… well, really hate/love. They are total opposites and stand for and believe different things, yet they are so very attracted to one another. Life continues to throw them together until they can no longer avoid one another, knowing one or both will be hurt. When they are apart, they are great characters—strong, opinionated, and determined. And together, they are explosive. This story is not their happy ending. I think somewhere down the road they will have that, but not today. And surprisingly, I’m totally okay with that.
Without giving too much away, I’ll tell you of the others. Caluth is the eldest Prince of Laamia, but born of the king’s second wife, which is why the queen’s son is crown prince. He’s quiet and vulnerable, easily taken. I love his weaknesses. He’s a good character because of them. He’s not perfect, but yet he is. Ilma is Caluth’s half-sister. She’s discovered she has magic, but has a hard time telling her father for fear of being exiled. Her closest confidant is Caluth, but he is taken with a man, and Ilma find herself jealous of his happiness. Ilma is great for her determination. She knows what she wants, but she’s not exactly sure how to take it. And then there’s the king. Conrad is the center to this whole story. What he was born into, the decisions he’s made, and what he’s become play into the very intricacies of this plot. Hell, they are the plot. I love that he is the seemingly strongest man in the kingdom, yet he still has fears, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. He loves his family, even if he has no idea how to show them. He loves his kingdom, even if he never wanted to be king. I look forward to how his story plays out.
This world is one of betrayal, intrigue, and secrets. I love the darkness this author has created from the slums of the Lower District, with the street performers and pickpockets, to the castle and its backstabbing traitorous confidants, from the conniving councilors to magician assassins. And seriously, one of the coolest things are the magician assassins. I mean really! Crumbling bodies? That’s all I’m giving you there. You’ll have to read the book to understand. But it’s so awesome.
I enjoyed the heck out of this book. I like that there was a plot with conflict and resolution inside of an obviously larger story arc. It’s got me glued. I’m dying to know what happens next with the characters, with the world, with the ongoing story. I’m dying. I highly recommend Rights of Inheritance by Sandra Bard.