NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Two outcasts find themselves caught in a web of forbidden love, dangerous magic, and dark secrets that could change the world forever in the start of a riveting epic fantasy series from the author of The Shadowhunter Chronicles.
“Everything I look for in fantasy.”—George R. R. Martin
A POPSUGAR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
In the vibrant city-state of Castellane, the richest of nobles and the most debauched of criminals have one thing in common: the constant search for wealth, power, and the next hedonistic thrill.
Kel is an orphan, stolen from the life he knew to become the Sword Catcher—the body double of a royal heir, Prince Conor Aurelian. He has been raised alongside the prince, trained in every aspect of combat and statecraft. He and Conor are as close as brothers, but Kel knows that his destiny is to die for Conor. No other future is possible.
Lin Caster is one of the Ashkar, a small community whose members still possess magical abilities. By law, they must live behind walls within the city, but Lin, a physician, ventures out to tend to the sick and dying of Castellane. Despite her skills, she cannot heal her best friend without access to forbidden knowledge.
After a failed assassination attempt brings Lin and Kel together, they are drawn into the web of the mysterious Ragpicker King, the criminal ruler of Castellane’s underworld. He offers them each what they want most; but as they descend into his world of intrigue and shadow, they discover a conspiracy of corruption that reaches from the darkest gutters of Castellane to the highest tower of its palaces. As long-kept secrets begin to unravel, they must ask themselves: Is knowledge worth the price of betrayal? Can forbidden love bring down a kingdom? And will their discoveries plunge their nation into war—and the world into chaos?
Bestselling YA author Clare (the Shadowhunter Chronicles series) makes her adult debut with this enchanting if somewhat bloated fantasy, the first in a series. Kel is the Sword Catcher, bodyguard to Conor Aurelian, Prince of Castellane. Having sworn his undying loyalty to Conor ("I die that he might live forever"), Kel's sole job is to keep the prince safe. When the prince's reckless choices land him in hot water with slumlord Prosper Beck, Kel turns to the enigmatic Ragpicker King, criminal ruler of the underworld, for assistance. In alternating sections, readers are also introduced to Lin Caster. Lin is an Ashkar, those born with the only remaining magic left in Castellane and exiled behind the city-state's walls. As a healer, however, Lin is able to enter the city, and the two narratives intertwine when Lin is called to heal one of the royals and she and Kel meet. Clare drops readers into this ornate and unique world and plants seeds for forbidden romance, dangerous magic, and brewing war to be harvested in later installments. The book at hand, however, lacks a sense of urgency, and Kel's sections outshine Lin's, making the pacing a bit uneven. Still, this multilayered epic is sure to be a hit with Clare's many fans.
The only flaw this book has is that the storry doesn't pick up fast enough. Plus, the book ends at a really bad time.
I’m 50% through it and nothing has happened. I really want to love this book but it is so incredibly slow. You can kind of tell where it’s leading to but there’s so little action and so much repetitive character building. I hope it gets better.