BEHIND THE MASK OF DUTY AND POWER, NO ONE IS WHO THEY SEEM…
Centuries after the Forgotten Wars ravaged the world and turned it to ash, the Houses of Pilar, Darakai, Boreal, and Bastiion forged an accord with the royal line of Thoarne, founding a Quadren of advisory to the throne of Orynthia. Every generation, a single Haidren from each of the four Houses is appointed to this coveted chair.
Upon her Ascension to adulthood, Luscia Tiergan takes her seat at court as al’Haidren to the House of Boreal and is quickly drawn into a maze of political traps and dark secrets. As she adjusts to her new life, Luscia uncovers a pattern of forgotten children, slain in the streets of Bastiion.
Raised on superstitious rumors about Boreal’s penchant for sorcery, Zaethan Kasim, al’Haidren to the House of Darakai, inevitably clashes with Lusica when she arrives in Bastiion. But when his position is threatened by an old rival, Zaethan is forced to set aside his hatred and form an uneasy alliance with the Boreali al’Haidren to secure his claim.
Following a disturbing stream of innocent bloodshed across Orynthia, Luscia and Zaethan discover their ideals are far more aligned than they might have imagined. But in a land of war and deceit, the path to peace should never be trusted.
We learn about Orynthia’s politics primarily through the eyes of Luscia, the al’Haidren to Boreal. The story begins as she journeys from the remote northern Boreal territory to the heart of the House of Bastiion where she is to take her place as part of the prince’s quadren. The Orythian political world is rich and complex, it feels like we’ve only scratched the surface of the uneasy peace in book one.
Luscia is the last of the prince’s quadren to assume her place in the city. This also makes her the most steeped in mystery, not just because she’s been hidden away in the north for her upbringing, but also because the House of Boreal has a rumored legacy of witchcraft. Luscia is compelling as she wars internally between the control and restraint she’s been taught and her desire to right wrongs. And, of course, when her attempts to right wrongs don’t go as planned, she’s weighed down even further by self doubt.
No one hates the unknown of the House of Boreal more than Zaethan, the al’Haidren to Darakai. He and Luscia quickly clash at court as he freely voices his mistrust of the “ice witch.” Zaethan’s character is pure alpha, he wears his emotions on his sleeve and makes decisions on instinct (right or wrong). Zaethan’s brashness stands in stark contrast to Luscia’s self control and creates electric chemistry between the two characters.
The story wouldn’t be a story if it didn’t throw the two together in something resembling an uneasy alliance. While each character has their own objectives, when innocents turn up dead in the streets, they find ways to benefit from each other’s secret investigations. Switching between the Luscia and Zaethan’s perspectives throughout the book always left you wanting more of their clashes.
The magic system, though only briefly introduced in book one, is intriguing. The quadren and courtesans call the Boreal y’siti, dirty ice witch. While we see Alora and Luscia show more than proficiency in healing arts, we don’t get a lot of insight into the source of their magic.
We get a combination of lumin-enhanced remedies, the power of the mysterious power of Boreal blood and Luscia’s inopportune attacks of the Sight that leave us waiting impatiently for the next book to uncover more.
The House of Bastiion is the perfect introduction to the stunning world of Orynthia. A world steeped in uneasy political alliances, court secrets and hidden magic.
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