Saturday, May 24, 2008

Star of the Morning by Lynn Kurland

Star of the Morning

Star of the Morning
by Lynn Kurland

Trade Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
First Released: 2006

Source: Bought from Amazon

Back Cover Blurb:
Darkness covers the north, since the black mage has begun his assault on the kingdom of Neroche. Legend has it that only the two magical swords held by Neroche's king can defeat the mage. Now the fate of the Nine Kingdoms rests in the hands of a woman destined to wield one of those blades...

In this land of dragons and mages, warrior maids and magical swords, nothing is as it seems. And Morgan will find that the magic in her blood brings her troubles she cannot face with a sword-and a love more powerful than she has ever imagined.

This is a "romance fantasy," where the book has a strong romance in a fantasy setting. The world-building is fairly good, and the characters are engaging. The pacing is good, and every scene serves a purpose. There are no explicit sex scenes, but the hero and heroine do kiss. The magic is of the typical fantasy sort, allowing a man to shape-change or be "invisible" or such. I'd rate this as "good, clean fun."

Personal note: As primarily a fantasy reader, I've always been disappointed that romance authors who try their hand at writing fantasy inevitably assume that "fantasy" means "doesn't have to be realistic." Yet the non-fantastical parts of a fantasy novel have to be solidly realistic in order to sell the reader on the fantastical parts. Lynn Kurland does a good job at keeping the realistic parts realistic and building an interesting fantasy world. (The one glaring example of where she flubs on realism is when she has Morgan, who's never been close to a horse before, able to ride, groom, tack, etc., a horse with expert skill the moment she comes in contact with it and without an lessons.)

Excerpt: Chapter One
Morgan of Melksham walked along the road, cursing both autumn's chill and her journey that caused her to be traipsing out in that chill instead of hunkering down next to a warm fire. This was not what she had planned. Her life had been proceeding quite nicely until she's received the missive in the middle of a particularly muddy campaign in which she'd been trying to pry one of Melksham's nobles from a keep that did not belong to him. The message from Lord Nicholas had been brief and pointed.

Come soon; time is short.

Morgan didn't want to speculate on what that might mean, but she couldn't help herself. Was the man suffering from life-threatening wounds? Was his home under siege from nobles he had exacted donations from once too often? Had he had a bountiful harvest and needed an extra pair of hands to bring that harvest to the cellar?

Was he dying?

She quickened her pace, forcing her thoughts away. She would know soon enough, and then that uncomfortable, unwholesome pounding in her chest would cease and she actually might be able to eat again.

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