A hunter, a princess, a soldier, a traitor and a thief find their fates weaving together in this medieval fantasy. Catherine is the daughter of a ruthless king, her upcoming marriage based on strategy rather than love. Her former bodyguard, Ambrose, who has won her heart, has been declared a criminal and has fled. March, a survivor of genocide, is planning to find his master’s illegitimate heir and hand him to his master’s enemy. Edyon, the kleptomaniac son of a rich trader, is in over his head, having stolen a bottle of demon smoke from a demon hunter. Tash is that demon hunter’s apprentice, her wits as quick as her feet, and committed to getting that smoke back.
This story, clearly intended as the first of a series, is aimed very firmly at Game of Thrones fans, and is even structured the same way as the books, with the chapters switching between different characters’ points of view. The strands weave together faster, but it still delays the empathy you feel for each, having to leave them for long periods to follow the next one. That said, Green is a skilled storyteller, and maintains the suspense and pace throughout, building the well-structured plot steadily towards the power-play that represents the main threat. I would have liked to see more of Tash, who I found the most engaging character, and I’d have hoped for more original concepts from what is a quality fantasy story, but this is still a thoroughly enjoyable read, aimed at readers aged 12+