Rilsin has overcome innumerable struggles to come to her rightful place as ruler of Saeditin. But her deposed cousin Sithli refuses to yield and has escaped to a neighboring kingdom in an attempt to regain her throne. When Rilsin's daughter is kidnapped and her most trusted advisor and friend, Sola, goes missing, Rilsin finds her only hope lies in a runaway princess of questionable trust. Unable to prove Sithli's involvement in the disappearances, the young queen is faced with the terrible prospect of leading her people into war to save her family.

This is a successful follow-up to last year's Sword of the Land. Brennan shines at characterization, delineating with sympathy and clarity how Rilsin struggles to separate her fear for her loved ones from her obligations as ruler, and even secondary characters are palpably alive. Sithli's maneuvering is rather fascinating, and the plot is clear-cut and well thought out, always an achievement when complex political systems are vital to the story. (Apr., 384 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Jen Talley Exum