Saroya: Untalented, a stain on her family's honor. Orphaned and barred from the Guilds, she has nowhere to go when her Talent fails to emerge.
Loric: Brother-in-law to the king. Thwarted in his ambitions, he'd do anything to usurp the throne. And he finds just the scandal he needs when he unearths Saroya's hidden pedigree.
The Kingdom of Veyle: Where all power flows to the Talented, and where the Guilds and the Order of Adepts control the destinies of Talented and Untalented alike.
When calamity strikes the capital city, with Untalents blamed and on trial, Saroya knows that proving her Talent and parentage means saving more than just her own life. A tangle of lies hides secrets that force Saroya to choose between her future and Veyle's.
When the Tests reveal that the orphaned Saroya is one of the Untalented those without the aptitude to succeed in any field she's shunned and cast aside, good for nothing but hard labor. Her problems are compounded when she discovers that she may actually be the lost daughter of the current king, but no one will accept the word of an Untalented, and an imposter claims the role of princess instead. Now Saroya must find a way to prove her identity, little realizing that she's a pawn in a dangerous political game. When plague strikes the city, Saroya may have a chance to rewrite the rules. Archer's YA debut starts strong, with plenty of potential in its unusual premise. However, the plot suffers from a lack of focus: Saroya careens around the city from one problem to the next, going from Untalented orphan to castle drudge to would-be guild apprentice, all while ill-defined figures scheme in the background. Additionally, the worldbuilding isn't entirely substantial; readers never get a clear picture of Saroya's surroundings or how the system is supposed to work. Ages 12 up. (BookLife)