Oh, I enjoyed this! All the necessary aspects are present to coalesce into a sparkling work with a brilliant plot. Vividly descriptive, the writing ensured my interest was held from beginning to end.
Kings, evil prelates, a princess who in battling to order her own life never counts the cost to others, witchery and old magic, guile and truth, miracles and more.
Oh! and an investigator of the order of the Va-Faith maligned and nullified, left to die naked and chained to a tree in the coldest hours of the night. Saker Rampion is an Ardronese witan, a spy for the Pontifect of Va-Faith, sent to the Kingdom of Lowmeer, not once but twice. The first time is to find out if the merchants of Lowmeer have found the Spicerie (the source of spices), the second as a spiritual tutor for Prince Ryce and the Princess, the Lady Matilda of Lowmeer. An unlikely hero!
Sorrel Redwing has the gift of glamoury. Through heart breaking circumstances she ends up as a hand maiden for Lady Matilda. Sorrel's feet are firmly set on a path that will intersect with Saker's becoming involved in the mysteries he faces.
Then there's the dreaded horn sickness and the killing of twins as carriers and what to do when the Queen is carrying twins? And the dagger?Well that's even more mysterious! On his first mission in Lowmeer, one that the Pontifect reminds him is to have no brawling or sword fights, indeed nothing to draw attention to his presence. An instruction Saker fails to keep when, in pursuit of a lead, he is involved in fight in a spice warehouse with a Lascar, a sailor from the islands of the Summer Seas. The fight interrupts the clandestine meeting Saker is observing. There's an unexpected discovery and a chancy escape. Not before Saker notices some gold coloured sparkling filaments that had been hidden in a length of Bambu. As Saker escapes the Lascan throws the dagger at him. It is embedded in his leg. The dagger is 'oddly sinuous.' When Saker first saw it his mouth went dry. 'Sailors say that there is sorcery in a blade like that.'
The dagger it seems has its own agenda which includes, after injuring Saker, forsaking its Lascar owner and cleaving to Saker. It's a dagger that won't stay thrown away or left behind no matter how hard Saker tries. Sorcery indeed!
Sorcery that involves what was hidden in the bambu. Sorcery that could enthral a King, bring done a kingdom, open the way for greater evil, and lead to untold havoc for not only the Summer Seas people but all who come under its sway.
A NetGalley ARC