Kiarda lives in a magic-laced land where peace is guarded so fiercely that those who train as warriors are outcast . . . until the arrival of a well-trained foreign army bent on conquest and determined to use everything in their power, including mages trained in the deadliest of the six magic arts: the magic of destruction.
Kiarda should have been spirit-linked to a fox, but the cub died at the moment of their birth. Now that spirit lurks deep inside her, and at the time of her greatest need, it could prove her greatest ally . . .
In a rather generic fantasy world, a war among the gods that spread to human beings ended in a declaration of universal peace. Armed forces no longer exist, and even weapons training is considered blasphemous. Human beings link with the spirits of animals, and a female, Kiardra, is destined to link at birth with the spirit of a fox cub. But the cub dies and the orphaned fox spirit flees to its only possible refuge--Kiardra. She grows up inhabited by this spirit, protected by her family from persecution. By the time she is an adult, her land faces invasion by a hostile army, well furnished with potent mages and determined to destroy all the spirit-linked among their enemies. Kiardra winds up playing a vital role in repelling the invasion. The characterization, dialogue and magic scenes are all up to Reichert's previous standard (Beyond Ragnarok, etc.)--this is Wingert's debut--but the authors fail to plausibly develop the underlying premise of religiously enforced pacifism. As a result, a novel in many respects quite well crafted ultimately fails. Reichert has done better, particularly when she has drawn on Norse folklore and myth; presumably she, and hopefully Wingert, will make a stronger showing next time out.