I just finished The Destined Queen. Hey, I got my Long Ridge in the mail today, and I don't feel like writing.
I give it 5 stars. For both books, and for the series as a whole. Mainly because, while some things didn't wow me, I can't really name what bugged me about it, you know? I don't know how to describe it. So, it doesn't exist, and I'll grant it the 5 stars gladly.
Since I'm doing both books, there'll be spoilers from the first one.
The Wizard's Ward
Years before, the peaceful world of Umbria was torn apart by the ruthless Hanish invaders.
Yet that is the only life Maura knows. Until her wizard guardian announces she is to be queen -- but that first she must find and unite with their country's legendary "Waiting King" in order to overthrow the enemy occupation. Men have searched for the fabled warrior for ages -- what chance has a young witch gifted in life-magic? Especially since she has only till midsummer's moon and her guardian's wisdom is tragically taken from her . . .
Filled with fear and determination as well as wits and magic, Maura sets forth. Her only ally is the outlaw Rath. Having Rath as a companion is as dangerous as having an enemy along -- but she must trust in him to save their country. As midsummer approaches, their mission is in jeopardy from the Han outlaws and treasure hunters -- and even their own folk, who are wary of "the witch and the wolf."
But the greatest complication is the knowledge that if they do not find the king, Maura need not sacrifice all to be queen . . .
The Destined Queen:
After awakening the "Waiting King" -- the one destined to free her country from the long occupation of the Han -- Maura Woodbury thinks her duty to her country completed. But Maura's task has only just begun. Rath, once a notorious outlaw, has no magic, and thus no power to expel the invaders from their kingdom. Yet the people expect a miracle. And so Maura, still new to using life-magic, is their only hope....
Maura must journey into the unknown, searching for a magical staff -- one that will grant the awakened king one grand wish. But separation from her consort breeds jealousies, devastating secrets and ties to an intimate enemy. Stricken by doubt, Maura and Rath are tempted to ignore the call of fate -- but what will happen to the country if they do?
As a series, I can say I really liked it. What Rath wishes it GREAT! So not what I was expecting, but it shows his character growth. Even Maura would've never thought of it, but she was proud of him.
Although, I will say that it will seem a little anti-climatic.
It's one of those Bigger Picture type books. It's not about what these characters want, it's about what's best for their world. It's about having a destiny you so don't want, and having not only your life, but the lives of everybody that's following you in the balance.
So, instead of a pig/farm/temple acolyte boy becoming king, we have an outlaw for a king. So checking out that trope to see if it's happened before. In literature, mind, not in the real world. Outlaws aren't half as attractive in this world.