Friday, October 19, 2007

Review: _To the King a Daughter_ by Andre Norton & Sasha Miller

Four different trees grow in a grand courtyard in the city, representing the four noble houses of Rendel. The trees represent the magic of the strength of the families. Two of the trees are slowly dying. To the King a Daughter by Andre Norton and Sasha Miller. This is the first book of the “Cycle of Oak, Yew, Ash and Rowan” series. A hostile setting, interesting characters and twisting plot keeps readers hooked with adventure and intrigue.

The hostile setting creates the tone for the book. Rendel is a medieval nation ruled by four houses based on trees. The kingdom borders on the Bog, a swampy, tangle of wilderness filled with deadly wildlife and xenophobic people. A strange magic dwells in the bog along with ruins of an ancient civilization. There are several different cultures that clash. The Bog people hate all Outlanders and kill them on sight. Sea Rovers are a group of people that are seafarers, driven from their homes by invaders. Vivid descriptions by the two authors keeps the characters moving through many changing landscapes.

Interesting characters hook the reader for the adventure in the book. Ashen is an orphan raised in the Bog by a witch woman named Zazar. She faces hatred by the Bog people and only stays alive due to the protection of the witch. Her life is complicated by not knowing of her past, which pushes her search for identity. Ysa is the queen of Rendel who wants power and the ability to use magic. She is driven by a bad marriage as well as being a woman, which are not supposed to rule. These two main characters maneuver through a changing world of dangers while having to deal with many other characters that provide growth to them. The authors demonstrate growth in the characters through action and dialogue.

Finally, a plot with many twists drives the action of the book. The twists start at the beginning with men hunting a pregnant woman. Ashen is born and grows up in a hostile culture. She possesses a magical power that she needs to explore. Her fight for survival with changes in her life drives the story, along with Queen Ysa’s ambition for power. There is also a threat from invaders in the north destroying other nations. All the plot threads twist together for a good story.

To the King A Daughter by Andre Norton and Sasha Miller is an entertaining novel for readers. Adventure and intrigue are provided by a hostile setting, interesting characters and a twisting plot which keeps readers hooked. The first book of the “Cycle of Oak, Ash, Yew and Rowan” series is a fascinating beginning to a diverting Fantasy series.

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