Danae helps her father in their apothecary, even though their city is occupied by enemy forces. The enemy offers human sacrifices, kidnaps, tortures, loots, and generally does all that nasty stuff oppressive regimes do. Danae watches her father’s illness grow and tries fruitless to find a cure.
Finally her family flees the city, and Danae strikes out on her own to find a cure for her father’s illness. Along the way she finds that her fledgling ability to work magic has made her into a Curse-Bearer, marked for consumption by the Darkness. Aided by a holy mage and an uber-hot elf healer, Danae detours in search of a magic sword that can strike down Queldurik, leader of the enemy and cause of her father’s illness.
I enjoyed this book from part 2 on. Part 1 annoyed me because it seemed to drag on and on, and there was nothing Danae could do to fight the bad guys. But once she left town, stows away on a ship, and generally becomes a nuisance to Graycloak, the story really takes off. The individual towns felt like actual places, instead of being Standard Medieval Squalor #3. And not a sign of stew!
The story sidetracks a bit to introduce Culduin, the awesome elf of hotness, but the sidetrack is massively excused on his behalf. He’s just a nice guy who patches up Danae, but he’s also full of elvish awesome. Kind of like what Legolas became in the Lord of the Rings movies.
There’s lots of peril throughout the story, keeping the pacing up. There’s monsters and evil hounds and dragonkin.
My single complaint is about the magic being either black or white. There’s no gray areas. But this is where the Curse-Bearer plot point arises, so in the world’s context it makes perfect sense.
Now, where’s book 2?