A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and heart-racing romance.
Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.
In debut novelist's Larson's riveting fantasy, the tropical nation of Antion is at war, and 17-year-old Alexa has disguised herself as a boy in Prince Damian's royal guard to avoid the nightmarish "breeding houses" that await her as a girl. When a visiting sorcerer kidnaps the prince in hopes of ending the war, Alexa becomes collateral damage. Learning of the dangerous hypocrisy of the nation's leaders, Alexa relies on her extraordinary fighting abilities to protect both the country and the prince she is beginning to love. An additional romantic entanglement contributes little, but Alexa is nothing if not resourceful. As a fighter surviving in a brutal world in which magic plays a sinister role, she relies on her own skills, perceptions, and determination to battle her way to the book's cinematic finale. Alexa's desire to reclaim her gender identity under her own terms ("I still wished things could be different. I wished I could be a member of the guard and a girl") gives the story much of its emotional sincerity and psychological depth. Ages 12 up.
I was enthralled till the end. The writing is superb and the plot not overly done. I prefer "happy ever afters", but the conclusion is surprisingly satisfying.
No. Just, no.
I almost never write reviews, that's how much I hated this book. I went into this book expecting a Mulan inspired story. They both pretend to be male soldiers. That is where the similarities end. I am embarrassed that the main character Alexa (Alex) could be considered by some to be a strong heroin. It takes more than just being good at fighting! This book resembles Twilight more than anything but less developed and riddled with clichés. I hated the entire thing but I forced myself to the end and was rewarded with the most painfully frustrating part of the book. When our supposed heroin cries that her face was scared in the big battle and the prince won't love her anymore. Are you kidding!!! You just saved the kingdom and your ashamed of the scars that you got!! That's pathetic! Honestly, it was horrible. Don't waste your time.
It was fine…
I went into this book expecting a strong heroine woman, because we need that in books. But this book wrote her completely dependent on men, and her whole identity being the want to be feminine. It’s very invalidating and not empowering for girls who want to express more masculine traits, because it gets brought into a bad light. Making the majority of the book having Alexa objectify herself.
It was an easy read with some good characters built, but overall was an attempt at a feminist perspective but wrote the girl only for the men. Her entire character arc was the men, and it made her entire character about those who are interested in her.