Lynn Kurland's Star of the Morning. The first novel in a fantasy series about a female mercenary seemed to fit the bill nicely and it didn't hurt that it had come very highly recommended by my dear friends Angie of Angieville and Holly of Book Harbinger. Truthfully, additional prodding wasn't really necessary.
With the loss of King Adhemar's magic and ability to wield his enchanted sword in one fell swoop, the entire defense of the kingdom of Neroche now rests solely upon the shoulders of the royal archmage - and Adhemar's brother - Miach. Even though he is extremely talented, Miach knows this strain will quickly drain him (and Neroche) of all it's defenses if something is not done to augment the realms' magical power.
Trained as a ruthless mercenary, Morgan is quick to mistrust anything that stinks of magic, preferring to rely on her own strengths (which are many) instead. But even though the blade tucked in with her belongings fairly exudes powerful magic, she is determined to fulfill her duty by carrying it to the King of Neroche. Having never before left her island home, Morgan is vastly relieved when she is joined on her quest by a few loyal comrade-in-arms but not so much by the arrival of the arrogant young man Adhemar and a little later, his handsome brother Miach. It quickly becomes obvious however that something - or someone - is intent on harming their small band and Morgan finds herself turning to magic and Miach's expertise on the subject to simply reach the royal city alive.
Star of the Morning is a beautifully written book, infused with a promising bit of romance, that switches points of view between various characters (convincingly well) while still managing to contain enough intrigue without ever letting that become the focus of the story. I do so love me a good character-driven novel - especially when the characters are not at all what they appear at first glance. Our heroine Morgan could have easily come across as a simple sword-wielding mercenary, yet her past and deep-seated aversion to magic grant her a much wider appeal. Tough and talented as she is, Morgan still has fears and watching her face those down with the help of her friends-in-arms and Miach was immensely satisfying. It seems I am developing quite a soft spot for talented warrior-women lately (much to my delight) and Lynn Kurland has delivered yet another winner in Morgan. Star of the Morning has so much to offer any fantasy fan - you can be sure I'll be tracking down book two, The Mage's Daughter in a hurry.
series reading order:
~ Star of the Morning
~ The Mage's Daughter
~ Princess of the Sword
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
The Book Harbinger review
Melissa's Bookshelf review
Reading for Sanity review
book source: my local library