After an upbringing of proper behavior and oppressive expectations, Aralorn fled her noble birthright for a life of adventure as a mercenary spy. Her latest mission involves spying on the increasingly powerful sorcerer Geoffrey ae'Magi. But in a war against an enemy armed with the powers of illusion, how do you know who the true enemy is-or where he will strike next?@ amazon.com / @ goodreads
Published: (This re-issue) 09/28/2010; Ace
The Author: Patricia Briggs
The long story short: This book had its fair share of growing pains; I went into reading it knowing it was Brigg's first book - but that didn't mean I didn't eagerly approach the story. At times the pacing was off, and I would have liked more description in some areas, but overall the story was one that I enjoyed, definitely enough to read the sequel. 3 of 5 stars.
I like female lead characters with some spunk to them, and Aralorn, spy of Sianim carries off this personal well. She wields green magic as a shape shifter, largely untrained, but between that, her skills as a spy, and her general no-nonsense attitude, I found her immensely likable almost right away. With her on-again, off-again companion, Wolf, the book follows Aralorn as she stumbles into the heart of the evil that surrounds the ae'Magi (who is bound to all the mages in the land), Geoffrey. Everyone loves the man - and no one sees the corrupted soul he is, except Aralorn. To speak ill of him is to risk not only disfavor, but having ones friends and allies turn on you. The charisma spell the ae'Magi has cast out around himself is a tangled net, designed to catch and hold everyone.
The odds seem totally against Aralorn, and the rag-tag group of refugees she falls in with. The Reithan king, Myr, impervious to magic is also not under the ae'Magi's spell, and neither are those who reluctantly follow him. Aralorn and Wolf - who is so much more than he seems - sometimes a wolf, sometimes a man - search frantically for a way to defeat the ae'Magi. And all the while, old magics stir, rumors of the ae'Magi's son, Cain - a mage who it is said was darker even than his father - spread into the refugee's mountain camp, and Aralorn and Wolf's struggles incease.
I liked Aralorn and Wolf's relationship best out of all the aspects and arcs of the book. Wolf himself is an entirely different character, easily the most fascinating character (for me) in the book. Seeing little glimpses of his layers thrilled me, as did trying to figure him out. I also enjoyed that Aralorn is such a story-teller. I wasn't a fan of the pacing in the book - I'd have liked to have seen more of Aralorn's life as a spy, and I'd like to have seen more of the refugees coming together so to speak. The end was wrapped up a little too neatly for my choice, but overall I would give the book a recommendation, but I would tell anyone who was going into reading it that this was the author's first book and as such, there are some awkward moments.