The Pretender's Crown
Del Rey, Apr 28 2009, $14.00
In 1588 Belinda Primrose, THE QUEEN’S BASTARD daughter of the Virgin Queen of Aulun Lorraine Walter, inherited her witchfire magical prowess from her father Robert Drake. She uses her mage skills as the best royal espionage agent and assassin.
However, the Echon continent seems poised for war when Queen Sandalila of Esandia is killed by poison. Belinda wonders if her mother created the tension that grips the continent in a ploy to gain power over the neighbor across the channel Gallin or a diabolical ruse by the alien Heseth to divide the continent in a bloody hostility. As armies prepare to mobilize, Belinda struggles with what to do next as she decides whether or not to break from her mom. Since she has sampled the dark magical lure of Dmitri, Belinda also reflects about her shaky relationship with Prince Javier de Castille of Essandia and Gallin, whose mom’s assassination makes him the uncrowned king of Essandia.
The second Inheritors' Cycle alternate historical fantasy is a fabulous tale anchored by a realistic portrayal of the lead character, as Belinda is no angel. A map makes it clear these countries are part of Western Europe; which enhances the deep look at backstabbing machinations that make up Elizabethan era political intrigue. With plenty of magic, sex, and debates over who the heirs are and who the pretenders to the thrones are, fans will relish C.E. Murphy’s fine late sixteenth century saga as lurking behind the scenes remain the Heseth; perhaps too easily stalking their prey.