It has been only two generations since Arthur Warden seized the throne of Heddred from the Conradines, and now the crown rests on the head of Garad, sickly and weak. Shadows gather: legacies of the centuries-long rivalries for power, old betrayals, the endless plots of the courtiers, and the murmur of rebellion in the southern provinces ...
Catwin, plucked from her life at the edge of the Kingdom, is thrust abruptly into the world of the Court when she is chosen by the Duke of Voltur to be a Shadow-spy, shield, and blade-to his niece, the Lady Miriel DeVere. The Duke's ruthlessness is legendary, and he will stop at nothing to become the power behind the throne, using Miriel as a pawn to catch Garad's heart.
But the Duke's carefully-laid plans are only a piece of the intrigue of the court, and greater forces than Catwin can imagine are massed against her, determined to eliminate Miriel and impose a new order of their own. If Catwin and Miriel are to survive, they must learn quickly who to trust, and when to turn their skills against the very people who have trained them
I picked up Shadowborn during the Smashwords Summer Sale, but I had neglected to pick up the next two books...which I bitterly regretted late the other night when I didn't have the ability to connect to Amazon to order them. (I have since corrected this mistake)
Also the book takes a long while to get to where it wants the reader to be at in terms of the relationship between Miriel and Catwin.
As for the good! Mysterious prophecy, sneaky girls, sneakier assassins and learning that you can't expect life to be fair make for an engaging fantasy.
Told from Catwin's POV, but in the past tense (its almost as if she's narrating her life story to someone), we see her go from a mischievous and curious child to a wary, young woman. She wants something more from her life, but when she's given that something more she balks at what that really means. Several times Catwin makes mention of 'If only I had known...well things could have been different.' as she talks about important turning points in her young life. Would she have taken that dare if she knew the pain she'd later endure? Would she have trusted Temar if she knew what lurked behind his questions?
Because Catwin only knows what she remembers and suspects happened, much of Miriel is a mystery at first that we puzzle out as Catwin does. Neither girl is given an easy task, though they both think the other lucky for theirs. The Duke's sledgehammer approach to getting what he wants puts the girls at odds with each other when it would have been a benefit for them to be friends. A lesson learned late and at great cost I might add.
So what's in store for these two? Well Catwin's prophecy hangs over their heads (who betrays her? or does she betray someone? what will end?) as well as Miriel's own need for independence and disillusionment with the world. So in other words FUN TIMES KIDDIES.