Ace, Nov 25 2008, $7.99
Once he was a Praetinor in the Imperial Army, a hero held in high regard by all until he rebelled and was declared a rebel. Angry and bitter, he turned to Shadow (dark magic) but over time regretted his choice. Lord Shadrael is hired by the vile Vindicant Priests who practice blood magic. He is to kidnap the sister of the Emperor Caelan, Lea, who whosse ters turn into pearls. If Shadrael brings her to their compound in brother’s province of Ulinia, they will restore his soul to him.
Lea is an innocent gentle person who practices good magic; she tries to persuade Shadrael not to turn her over to the Vindicants. He ignores her plea although he has come to care about her. After delivering her to the Vindicants, they betray him leaving him to die. His brother tries to save him and raise an army expecting the Emperor to invade while Lea is being used and abused. Shadrael tries to liberate Lea by bargaining with the devilish Vindicants; Lea does likewise with the man she has come to love.
This is a fine blending of sword and sorcery with romantic fantasy. THE CROWN is Deborah Chester at her best. Shadrael is dark even more so when contrasted to Lea’s light. He changes from sacrificing her to sacrificing himself as her goodness overwhelms his badness. Ironically she is willing to do the same to save his soul. The Vindicants cleverly turn the strengths of the pair caring about the other into a weakness better than Karl Rove ever did. Thus this is a character driven thriller as Shadrael begins to find redemption when he found love.