Rating: I LOVED IT
Publication Date: April 16, 2011
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Book Blurb: Giavolo: proudest of the city-states and home to the great university, where the Magical Sciences are taught alongside more mundane studies. The city has been at war for longer than any of its inhabitants have been alive.
Vervain: Mistress of the Magical Sciences, she is dismayed to find herself assigned a bodyguard after divination reveals an ill-defined threat to the university’s teachers. Even worse, the bodyguard is an orc.
Riyu: Vervain’s orc bodyguard is determined to save her life—if she’ll let him.
Brighthand: When this sinister figure attacks the university and kidnaps Vervain’s partner, it’s up to Vervain and Riyu to get him back...or die in the attempt.
You don’t have to be a 20-something babe to save the world.
This was my last read in 2014, and I can honestly say I was completely caught off guard by how much I enjoyed this book. I read it in one day and never had a desire to set it aside.
Vervain is a magic instructor who ends up getting an orc bodyguard when the university fears for several instructors’ safety. Riyu is the orc assigned to her. For me, the best part of this book was Vervain battling with her perceptions about orcs. One by one, what she thought of the “brutes” was quickly proven wrong. Seeing her struggle with her own prejudices was delightful.
I found Vervain to be a refreshing character to follow. She isn’t young as most books peg their protagonist. She’s in her late forties and has dedicated her life to magic. With Riyu’s presence, she begins to see outside her bubble of a world. It was great to watch her grow and even more rewarding to read about her relationship with Riyu, who I found a delight to read about.
The other characters were great supports. Vervain and Riyu steal the show, for me, but the other characters were done well enough to add to the story.
The world wasn’t explored a lot, and I was completely fine. I had a good feel of it all and was able to focus nicely on Riyu and Vervain. There’s some great action, terribly nasty creatures, a dose of romance, and an ending I saw coming, but was no less engaging because of it. There was one part with one of her companions that I never saw coming and my jaw dropped when I read it. It made up for the otherwise predictable ending. There was a light tone to this, but the creatures and some of the action were pretty harrowing. I enjoyed the combination immensely.
The writing flowed brilliantly for me, and I found myself devouring this book rather quickly. As I said, I never had a desire to put it down.
Overall, I’ve already recommended this to a few. If you like a bit of romance in your fantasy, I highly encourage you to pick this one up. It’s a stand alone, and I must say I’m sorry to see it end. I’ll definitely be picking up more of Corvidae’s work.