The Riven Kingdom
Orbit, Sep 2008, $7.99
In the walled island Kingdom of Ethrea, Rhian stays with her father the King as he is dying. She sadly muses she will be an orphan soon since her mom Queen Ilda died ten years ago. Rhian detests the unfairness of succession as her two brothers are dead two months and she is the next in line to the throne; however Ethrea has never had a female ruler. Even near dead with his belief he failed the kingdom when he left no heir, the monarch frets that he never found a husband for his daughter.
Sadly Rhian knows she is the best person for the job of ruling the kingdom, but knows the religious leader Marlen will tell the ruling council who she will marry; some loser he controls to the ruin of the kingdom. That is if he even lets her outlive her father. No one seems to accept she is capable not even her dying dad. Rhian concludes she must flee to find allies to take back her country. Toymaker Dexterity Jones pushed by the shade of his late spouse Hettie offers to help the besieged princess. They obtain assistance from Zandakar, the son of the insane Empress of Mijak; he helps them so that they might one day abet him to end his mother’s slaughter of millions.
The second Godspeaker tale (see EMPRESS) is an entertaining epic fantasy thriller whose strong cast keeps this fine entry from being just another middle book (though it has many of the set up trappings). Rhian cannot understand why gender not skill or even bloodlines is the prime requisite to be the next ruler; Dex has talked to his wife since she died years ago, but now she is talking to him; finally Zandakar realizes he must depose his mom who is much stronger than him. Although it is a necessity to read EMPRESS first to avoid getting lost in the plot, readers will appreciate THE RIVEN KINGDOM as civil war and much worse have arrived on the island