Finishing this book didn’t give me any elation. Though the first chapter was gripping and interesting, the book continued in the same vein of discovery and banter almost the entire way through. I kept giving it one more chapter to see if it impressed me, and though it picked up around chapter sixteen, it didn’t ever reach a point where I connected with the characters or their plight.
For a book that is the first in a series, this is a problem. Sure, Ileni was a strong heroine with a no nonsense attitude, and in the beginning, she cares little for her assignment or even her well being. Eventually she relents and decides that she does care a little bit. Not an awful lot, mind you, just a little.
Ileni was a powerful, well versed sorceress before her powers abruptly dwindled. Despite the finite nature of her magic, she’s still able to mutter enough spells to stop herself from dying at the drop of a hat. At one point, she healed her own sliced throat. How one does this when her magic is directed by words and all her airflow is seeping through her neck wound, I couldn’t tell you!
She is sent to a cave system full of assassins to teach those with skill magic that they could harness on their missions. It is part of a truce between her peace loving mage settlement and the assassins, and Ileni is the third mage sent within half a year. Someone is killing her fellow mages, and she must find out who and why. She is issued a protector, Sorin, who believes in his purpose in the larger scheme of things, and keeps his word to see to her safety.
Despite spending pages upon pages discussing, learning, fighting and otherwise interacting, the romance still abruptly sparks between Ileni and Sorin. By the time it does, it matters not in the least. It is just one more jumbled plot thread required to run its course.
Since this is the first in a series, nothing is actually resolved (except for the murders, but those just expand out into something else) but nothing is left in a cliffhanger either. I felt no more fulfilled by the ending than I had throughout the entire novel. Doubtless, it was a lackluster start and I doubt I’ll be continuing the series unless the plot develops drastically.