by Chima, Cinda Williams

Thrown together by chance and united by their hatred of the king, Ash, a gifted healer, and Jenna, a girl abandoned at birth, find themselves on the run from the King's Guard.

Cruel King Montaigne of Arden holds the lives of four teens in his twisted hands: Jenna from the mining district, who has a distinctive mage mark on the nape of her neck; Adam, a young mage equally capable of healing or killing; Lila, a spy and smuggler who has the king's favor; and Destin, savvy son of the king's general and seemingly despised by his father. As the teens' lives converge, a kingdom and the Seven Realms hang in the balance. The children of characters from Chima's Seven Realms series start their own adventures, and this series starter introduces major players and conflicts. It takes a while to get everyone positioned, but the payoff is worth the wait, and by the time the teens come together, readers are already hooked by mild romance and hints of complications to come-not the least of which is the appearance of dragons. Chima fans will love this familiar fare, but also try it with readers of Anne McCaffrey's Pern series or Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Chima revisits the Seven Realms for the next generation of warfare, intrigue, romance, and magic. Adrian "Ash" sul'Han, young prince of the Fells, has lost too much to the monstrous king of Arden and runs away to train as a wizard healer, devoting his spare time to assassination. Jenna Bandelow, destitute Ardenine coal miner, has suffered even more, and she joins the guerrillas rebelling against the crown. Years later their winding paths collide at the Ardenine court, with one a slave and the other a prisoner. Between Ash's deadly skills and magical power and Jenna's saboteur training and mysterious magemark, together they might achieve the vengeance neither could accomplish alone. Readers hoping for a cheery reunion with beloved characters will be dismayed at the pain, violence, death, and horror on tap from the opening pages, but those expecting immersive worldbuilding, twisty plotting, and complex characterization will be hooked. Guilt-ridden Ash is oddly well-matched with fierce, passionate Jenna; the large cast of secondary characters who help or hinder their quests all command attention as well. The secret of Jenna's magemark will surprise nobody, but it promises fascinating future ramifications; and even as one villain is foiled, a new, more sinister threat looms over the Realms. A welcome return for loyal fans and a splendid jumping-on point for new ones. Both will be panting for the next installment. (Fantasy. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2016 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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