The Queen's Bastard
C. E. Murphy
Del Rey, Apr 29 2008, $14.00
From the moment she could crawl, her furtive father Lord Drake raised and trained Belinda Primrose by himself as an assassin. He also pounded in her allegiance to his liege Queen Lorraine of Aulun. Drake has never informed his daughter who her mother is as that could prove dangerous since she is Lorraine’s illegitimate offspring.
Years ago Lorraine’s most dangerous rival Queen Sandalia of Gallin miscarried when she learned her husband had died. To protect the throne with a male heir especially from ambitious Lorraine, Sandalia abducted a newborn she named Prince Javier
In 1561 Javier and Belinda meet for the first when she is in Gallin on an espionage mission. He falls in love with her and she feels the same about him, but her loyalty from birth is to her sire and he knows what must come before desire. Still their attraction grows as they soon learn they share in common that each is a "witchbreed" magic user.
This sixteenth century fantasy is much darker than the author’s romantic urban fantasies as power and politics supersedes ethics; for instance Belinda encourages her beloved to rape an adversary. Well written, dark historical fantasy fans will appreciate the opening act of what looks like will be a solid series, but setting up the cast, era, and machinations at times slows down the story line. Still THE QUEEN’S BASTARD is a solid first entry.