Blurb: A trick of magic, a twist of fate.
As the orphaned nephew of the king, trusted companion to his cousin, and second heir to the throne of Skala, Prince Tobin’s future is clear. But not as clear as the spring in which a hill witch shows him his true face–and his secret destiny….
Now Tobin carries a burden he cannot share with even his closest friend, Ki, his squire. He is to rule–not as he is but as he was born: a woman. Given the shape of a boy by dark magic, Tobin is the last hope of the people of Illior–those who desperately seek a return to the old ways, when Skala was ruled by a line of warrior queens. They still believe that only a woman can lift the war, famine, and pestilence that have run rampant through the land since the king usurped his half sister’s throne. It is these outlaw wizards and witches who protect Tobin–and it is for them that Tobin must accept his fate.
With the unsuspecting yet fiercely loyal Ki at his side, Tobin must turn traitor against the only blood ties he has left. He must lift the masks of Skala’s rulers to show their true colors–before he can reveal the power of the woman within himself.
Review: Thankfully this lacked much of the morbid factor that the first book had. That opened up the story more for me to enjoy better. It still skirts the fantasy genre line of what I like, though. There are not a ton of elements that allow this to fit into that genre and is a big par of why it skirts that line for me.
Tobin’s whole situation is because of magic (which is mostly just background fact rather than situational substance), but outside of that and the extremely rare appearances of Brother there aren’t many instances of anything truly fantastical until late in the book. Even then it isn’t really the focus of the story. The focus is more on the characters themselves, their relationships and fighting rather than anything out of the ordinary.
I did like this, even though it isn’t my typical kind of read and is actually more of a young adult book, so I will be reading the last one in this series to see how it all finishes out in the end.