Review: Gate to Kandrith by Nicole Luiken ★★★

Gate to Kandrith by Nicole Luiken
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Series: Kandrith #1
Publication Date: March 26th 2012
ISBN: 9781426893476
Page Count: 364
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

Sarathena Remillus, daughter of the newly elected Primus of the Republic of Temboria, has been given a mission: discover the secret of slave magic. Anxious to escape the corruption and treachery of the capital, Sara welcomes the chance to finally prove herself far away in Kandrith, the tiny nation of former slaves. Accompanying her on the journey is Lance, a Kandrithan to whom Sara owes her life. Lance despises the nobility, and is determined to resist his desire for Sara, despite her attempts to entice him into divulging the secret of his magic. Soon their travels become fraught with peril, and Sara discovers she's fallen victim to the ultimate betrayal. To end a war between two nations, she will have to make the ultimate sacrifice...

REVIEW


I found most elements of this story really engaging and unusual. And unusual is something I generally appreciate. I like being surprised and shown stuff I haven't seen a dozen times before in fantasy novels. But then, on the other hand, some of the events in the plot made even me raise incredulous eyebrows. There were a couple of instances where I wished the author had taken a different route and not gone to some of the places she did. And this lowered my rating down to 3 stars from the 4 I thought I was going to give it most of the way through the book.

I loved the concept of the way magic works in Luiken's world. It's quite a big part of the plot that one of our main characters has to uncover for herself, so I'm not going to give you any details, but it was a very interesting take on magic and who can access it.

I was slightly surprised at how prevalent the romance angle was in this book. At times, I almost felt like I was reading a historical romance. The highly prejudiced class system that is in place made me feel it too. The term "nobles" or "of noble birth" often being applied in such novels. However, what they don't have at the other end of the scale that this world does have, is slaves. I thought this was handled relatively well and Luiken showed the different ways people can look at the same issue. Even within the nobles themselves. Our main character, Sara, for example, as a noble born has almost convinced herself that they are merely "maids" or "servants". I'm sure this is partly down to seeing only what you want to see, and partly because she does treat hers with the respect a valued member of staff would receive. But it quickly becomes evident she is in the minority in her way of thinking.

Lance, the other lead character and a former slave, naturally has a very different take on the issue and has seen first hand what other slave masters are like. He has prejudices of his own to overcome, however. It's a journey for both of them in more ways that one.

Even with the strong and often touching love story that was threaded through this book, I would not call it a romance book. Don't expect to find any riding off into the sunset happy endings in this instalment. This is part one of a duology, so the story here finishes only half told.

A solid 3 Stars! ★★★

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