by MC Halliday, historical/fantasy (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-033-9
Princess Magaith of the Kingdom of Munster is her father's only hope of maintaining some peace in the land since the old King has no more living sons to fight his battles for him. Magaith will be married to the King Broda of Connacht, and she accepts her duty even as her heart belongs to her loyal knight, Sygtryg. Little does she know that destiny has greater plans in store for her, starting with an unexpected reunion with a mother she has thought long dead. There will be magic, love, and even a dragon as she embarks on a mission to rid the land of a great evil.
The King's Daughter makes a far better fantasy story than a romance because it certainly has enough twists and turns going to keep the tale going. The author has a lyrical, flower way with prose that will not be to everyone's taste, but it's one that I find appropriate to this particular story. The pacing is fine and the story is interesting enough to keep me turning the pages.
Because romance is centered around the main characters and their relationship, The King's Daughter has some shortcomings in that department because Magaith and Sygtryg's relationship takes a backstage to Magaith's journey to self-discovery and heroism. The romance feels subdued, even muted at places. I don't particularly mind this as the fantasy storyline is interesting enough to make up for the lack of memorable romantic developments, but not all romance readers may feel the same.
Indeed, I can't help wishing that the characters here are a little less flat. Magaith is dangerously close to being a perfect heroine with no flaws here while poor Sygtryg comes off like an extension of Magaith's awesome nature. If the characters are more well-developed into something resembling people with both discernible strengths and flaws, I would be enjoying this story so much more.
At the end of the day, it is all about expectations. If you are expecting something in the vein of books by, say, Robin McKinley, Mercedes Lackey, or any author from the Juno Books or Harlequin Luna stables, then this book may be something just up your alley. If you are expecting something that is more focused on romance, however, this one may be quite a gamble.
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