From Amazon Reviews...
“I love books that pull you into their pages without remorse for what you leave behind. This is one of those books . . . I can't imagine what reading the whole series will do to me.”
“It was thought provoking, had beautiful character development, and by the end it made my cry. I connected with Adria and felt her struggle, her sorrow, her love, and her joy . . . I'd expected to take about a week or two to read this book, but I finished it in a day.”
“What did I love most about the book? The fact that the author has the ability to reveal some of (the) questions raised whilst . . . maintaining an air of mystery and intrigue . . . drawing the reader into a world almost familiar.”
Adria Idonea has always awakened from dreams of drowning. Throughout her childhood, Adria has awakened entangled in her linen sheets in her tower at her father's mountain citadel of Windberth. She has awakened within sweat-soaked furs as a young woman among the Aesidhe, the Wilding Ghosts of the deep wood. Adria has awakened far too many times between the water and the air, gasping for breath and grasping for... something already lost.
The dreams quickly fade, but the fear remains, for Adria's is a mind divided, a life in balance, heir of a nation on the brink of war.
In the wake of the War of Scars, Adria's father carved a kingdom out of the scattered settlements of fledgling nobles. He forged a faith from the ashes of old religions left smoldering beneath the boot heels of long-lost armies. Now, at last, Heiland is a realm of order, held in a balance as careful as the black and white of a king's chessboard. A perfect order, except for... a few ghosts.
The Aesidhe, now guided by Preinon, the exiled brother of King Ebenhardt Idonea, have become a challenge to the King of Heiland, to its Knights of Darkfire, and to the Matron of its Holy Sisterhood--a challenge made more potent by the unexpected arrival of a second great exile--young Princess Adria herself.
Now, the games of chess taught to her by her father begin to play out on a grand scale, in the past and the present of her life, as Adria fights for a place in her world true to the destiny of a princess and the heart of a Hunter of the Aesidhe. And even as she returns to the spires of Windberth to fulfill a promise to her brother Hafgrim, the newly knighted Prince of Heiland, she remains uncertain of her status--royal scion... or exiled traitor?
The War of Scars may have ended, but the legacy of shattered kingdoms and broken faiths has left the heirs of scars with an uncertain destiny in a fragile world. Torn between the legacy dictated by her father and the faith offered by her uncle and his new People, Adria knows that, as the Aesidhe have taught her, the mind divided can only defeat itself.
From Ghosts of Heiland...
Adria paused again, one bare foot aloft, carefully arched, ready to break the surface soundlessly and return her to perfect balance. She waited for the moon to look away, though she wore no visible metal to reflect its light or the memory of light mirrored from the snow.
Her blade, still sheathed, showed only burnished bone, elk leather and sinew, her hand wrapped around its crossbar so that the pommel protruded from between the two strongest fingers of her closed right fist. Even this weapon might draw notice in this light, if in sudden motion. The moon is an inconstant companion, impatient and brooding. It has to be waited out—accepted, but never ignored.
She did not have to watch the moon anymore, not even the patterns of light flitting through the trees beneath the swift late-winter clouds. The light occupied her only distantly, informally, just as her limbs obeyed her without real instruction. She could focus on the man, half turned, half aware. She could focus on how she would make him fall, before he ever even imagined he was not alone.
Another step, then hold...
They were never ready enough. With few exceptions, they were dull and lazy.
Wegmaya p’o wakespaya zhezazhuya p’o zheokshoya gipoe goniwela, Adria thought. Patience and awareness make both good lovers and good warriors.
Not so many months before, her heart would have thundered in her chest and her ears, and her limbs twitched with the temptation for violence her mind knew would come. She would not have felt at ease with only the pommel of her short blade, with her bow wrapped tightly beside her quiver. She would have felt too exposed, too lightly armed, and far too small to face this enemy. Her fear would have frozen her between senseless flight and desperate rage. She would have been blinded to all but the most obvious dangers, and her fate would have been decided without her will.
Her senses and her body were changed, and her thoughts conformed between them. Parts of her that had once acted in conflict were now trained to act as one, with such awareness that complete control merged with individual possibility in action. Each breath, and each moment, felt different from the last.
She was moving again, the moon dulled—stilled just enough for her last four steps. Clouds covered its face, and greater and lesser shadows mingled. Her vision narrowed to detect any movement he might make, and her toes broke the surface of the snow. Her arm rose, her blade’s bony pommel ready for the base of the man’s throat.
Her final step was irrevocable, her hips and shoulder already tensing for the blow. Her calm deepened, her mind stilled, and her vision widened.
And then she sensed something…