*Book source ~ A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
It’s Princess Rheúlea’s 17th birthday and the kingdom of Gemworthy is celebrating with week long festivities. Surrounding countries have sent high ranking officials to celebrate with Gemworthy including the Crown Prince of the Avrinn Isles. The day after Rhea’s birthday feast the Crown Prince asks for her hand and King Gromweill agrees. Rhea doesn’t want to marry anyone yet. She doesn’t even know Ohnferead or whether she could love him. Needing to be alone to think and being an impetuous sort she takes off on her horse and is gone all day, getting lost in the surrounding countryside. When the Royal Centrinels finally find her in the company of Sir Paladin Trieste they accuse him and his Griffin companion Zephen of kidnapping the Princess. To protect their Princess from the dishonor of being out and about alone for an entire day they say nothing and accept the charges brought against them. When they are sentenced to kill the dragons of Sama-Ael-Fen in order to prove their innocence Rhea knows she has to do something or spend the rest of her life with the knowledge that their supposed guilt and their certain deaths were all her fault. With her faithful companion Hiylienea by her side she begins a journey she never believed possible.
This excellent tale reminds me very much of a Lord of the Rings Lite version. Only this fantasy is a story of four people coming together to accomplish a difficult dragon fighting mission instead of a Fellowship of eight attempting to destroy an evil ring. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. Rhea is a spoiled yet not mean-spirited princess, Hiylienea is her steady and level-headed companion. Paladin is a mysterious knight who is excellent with the sword and Zephen is a fierce fighting Griffin. Their journey starts out all wrong, assbackwards and against royal decree, so they end up fleeing from the Royal Centrinels their entire journey. Fear of discovery has them disguising themselves and avoiding cities as much as possible. It takes them a few months to get to their destination and that time is not without many trials and tribulations. The person who I think grows the most is Rhea though she still has a tendency to be flighty. There is a conclusion to this particular story and yet there is a huge opening for the series to continue. It will be interesting to see where this story as a whole goes.