The prophesy says that the Guardian will be born when the four moons of the Empire align. Yet when that fateful night comes, there are twins born – Jax, fat and healthy, and Terrell, with strange eyes and deformed limbs. Naturally Terrell is sent away – but is it the right choice? How will they find the Guardian in time?
Initially the reader knows very little about Terrell – because he knows very little about himself. The use of a third person narrator allows the reader to see and experience, but not to feel too much. Eventually the reader begins to sympathise with him, because who could resist a withered wraith who has lost all his friend? I appreciate that Gray introduced Terrell first instead of Jax. It makes Jax appear shallow and conniving, which is of course what his mother has made him.
There are a series of deaths suggesting corruption in the capital. A gradual revelation of the powers Jax and Terrell have doesn’t help with the confusion. However, it seems like Terrell got all the good qualities of personality, and all the bad ones of appearance. He makes the most of it however, and that is what makes him the more likable character for me.
The writing style of this novel is a lot heavier than most teenage fictions, leading me to classify it as an adult fantasy novel. However, if you enjoy fantasy, and are a strong reader, a teenager is likely to enjoy it. Certainly there are some adult themes (sex, death, rape) but Gray treats these with beautiful delicacy.
If Juliet Marillier is a 9/10, and Mercedes Lackey is normally a 10/10, this novel would be an 8/10. It’s good, but it seems to be lacking something in the first half of the novel. Perhaps the emptiness I’m feeling comes from the fact that it is the first book in a series, and little seems to be happening except the setup of the plot for the other two novels. However it does eventually reach quite a satisfying, if somewhat predictable, conclusion. I’m looking forward to the next book for sure! I picked up three books for a bargain $15 at my local opshop, so I’m not complaining.
Edited to add – I won’t be reading and reviewing the other two novels I own of this series at the moment, because the fifth book is out of print, and not available at my local library. This is very disappointing for me, I really wanted to read the whole set. If anyone had a copy, and wanted to sell/give it to me, I would be very grateful.