"A betrayal nineteen years in the making. Seventeen-year-old Ivy Blackbourne wants nothing more than to become a knight and help defend her home from southern raiders, but her father's law forbids it. King Magnus has his reasons for this law and will do anything to protect his family, but it might be too late. The war has spread to the kingdom of Godstone and Magnus is forced to send Ivy away for her protection but also to begin her training. Ivy soon meets a boy named Finn, whose past will link their fates together, and as their relationship grows so too does the danger. King Magnus has been betrayed. His wife is being targeted and his son is being hunted. Ivy soon finds herself fighting for her life trying to get back home, but home is no longer safe. There is one man behind it all, and he'll stop at nothing to get his revenge on the king who took everything from him."
I received this book as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The story starts off by introducing us to King Magnus Blackbourne, the main character Ivy’s father, in his past while he is fighting raiders from the South who are attempting to invade his kingdom. During this conflict, he is ultimately forced to banish his best friend, Helvarr, after the man goes against his orders one too many times. This sets the stage for the present day when the conflict with the raiders is still ongoing and Ivy Blackbourne must leave behind her father, her brother Rayner and her mother Elana, and go away to Kame Island in the South in order to be safe. There on the island she begins her training with the knight Ronin, and meets her fellow trainee, Finn.
My favorite part of the book was getting to read the pov of King Magnus. There was something refreshing about reading the perspective of the father of the main character, something we don’t often get to see in YA. This I think helped him become a much more fleshed out character and gave reasons behind his decisions that ultimately made him more relatable, rather than just being the parental figure in the background. I also appreciate the wholesome father-daughter relationship that he and Ivy had, even if some of his decisions were frustrating.
I also liked the storyline involving Ronin and his connection to Helvarr. While I would have preferred more instances of his pov so that there was more time to be introduced to his full backstory than just at the end, it added an intrigue to the story as the role he played in the conflict became clear.
Outside of these parts of the plot, I had a difficult time connecting with the middle portions of the book while Ivy was at the island. Her story seemed to stagnate while everything was happening around her, and I found myself more interested in what was happening to everyone who wasn’t her. I think part of this came from my expectation that she would do more digging into her father, Helvarr, and Ronin’s pasts (although she does learn at the very end). Instead her story focused more on her training and her developing romance with Finn. I also had a bit of a hard time caring about what happened to the characters as a whole as the writing style felt rather distant at times. The best way I can describe it was that it was more like a recounting of events.
However, the ending of the book was enough to make up for this, because this was when the story for me became truly exciting and it has ultimately left me looking forward to the next book.