Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
Initial Thoughts/Reactions by Sophie
“They cut them down. They always cut them down. They come and go like seasons, the winter that gives no thought to the spring.”
This books was in the recommendation list on my local library’s ebook summer program. I know summer is over but I wasn’t able to get my hands on this book until this week. The waiting list was a bit long.
In the summer, I was able to read the sample chapters while waiting in line for borrowing this book. I really liked the girl. She was honest and her thoughts were in-depth and interesting. It was refreshing to see a confident girl who wasn’t stubborn. She cared for her family and friends. She wasn’t perfect yet she didn’t care to perfect herself. She didn’t get angry and she didn’t hate the world.
The plot was interesting, had magic, and princes/queens/wizards. And yet, it had some steamy scenes. Haha. There was probably as much deaths as the Song of Ice and Fire series. Like damn, lives just tossed about (and used as stairs/hills).
The HUGE age difference was kind of funny. Mostly because the detail of his age was mixed in with other interesting information crucial to the plot. I was in disbelief at his age and honestly giggled when I read what I thought I just read. Every sentence made me uncertain whether this was an adult book or a YA book. I was really interested in how this would play out. Just remind yourself that this is a magical world.
Main/Secondary Character Thoughts
I shut my mouth on apologies: if I began to apologize for being untidy, I’d be apologizing the rest of my life.
Agnieszka is seemly quite ordinary. Yet, her way of thinking and her feelings made her awesome. She really cared for her family and friends. When they are threatened, she becomes sharp and strong. She is also very confident to the point of make the first move which made me smile. She can analyze people by watching them. She may be clumsy and less skilled in a number of things but her observation skills and understanding-people skills makes her a smart choice for a protagonist. She doesn’t annoy readers with stubbornness or cluelessness. She picks up on details and plays at her strengths.
I leaned against his side, his irritation oddly comforting. After a moment he grudgingly put his arm around me.
Sarkan, or the Dragon, is a total tsundere. Though, I can’t help but think their relationship could have been more. Just more of conversation and gestures. Sarkan understands Nieszka feelings and respects her (He teases a lot though). I think through him living for like a hundred or a few hundred years, Sarkan is past the whole needy feelings phase and such. Agnieszka was able to bring out the more human side from Sarkan and other wizards/witches ( and even some other supernatural/magical beings.)
Forgiveness was a major thought I had when I finished this book. There was so much revenge and anger from the supernatural to mere humans. Many characters were able to forgive, some forgot, and some held onto their anger. List : the Wood, the prince, the other younger prince, the queen, Kasia, etc.
A scene I liked/disliked
When things settled, Agnieszka understood what needed to be done. She didn’t soften up yet she didn’t change or become quite strong and stubborn. She just grew and held more knowledge. She possibly even enhanced her understanding skills. In the end, she was possibly even happier. To the point of teasing Sarkan. Which in turn made me smile. Though seriously, Sarken is a tsundere.
“You intolerable lunatic,” he snarled at me, and then he caught my face between his hands and kissed me.
Questions I have/Final Thoughts
I was sad that this book was a standalone. The ending was very nice and satisfying yet I greedily want to know more. More about the magic, more about Agneiszka’s future, and maybe another adventure. You know, like how there is The Hobbit and there is Lord of the Rings. Though, I hope Nieszka and Sarkan lives through it all.
On Wiki, it said the author loved Lord of the Rings and Pride and Prejudice. I approve. It also inspired me to mayhaps write a book one day.
Rating or Recommendation
4 out of 5. Mayhaps even a 5 out of 5 for not having a disappointing ending. I would like to see more depth in other characters surrounding Agnieszka. There was so much I wanted to understand about that world, and also I wanted to know more about the wizard world and Sarkan. The ending was quite sufficient for ending a standalone and actually made a lot of sense. Life just moved on, people died, the kingdom got a new king, and life was what it was. But, you know with magical tree-like people and such.
I would add this to my bookshelf and reread. The plot was interesting, had magic, and princes/queens/wizards. And yet, it had some steamy scenes. Haha. [There was probably as much deaths as the Song of Ice and Fire series. Like damn, lives just tossed about.]
This book was much like Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier which I would definitely recommend to readers who liked this book.