My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing.
by Jeff Wheeler
This is an old style mock-Medieval Fantasy novel with the Patriarchal society typical of these fantasy worlds, but it's well done. The main character is Maia, a princess who is learning magic forbidden to females. The world building starts early on and has a dark, conspiratorial feel to it. Magic plays a big part and there is something called the medium which serves as the magical force that everyone tunes into.
The patriarchy is strong in this one to the point of serious misogyny, but that plays an important role in the plot. Much of the political situation is unfair to Maia and her father, who I felt was a bit of a pig, does nothing to protect her from the machinations of men, though he says that he loves her and insists on her loyalty to the kingdom. To be fair to him, he does protect her from the wicked stepmother who adds a Cinderella-like subplot to the story.
I went back and forth a few times deciding whether I liked one of the important characters (The king of Dahomey) or not. Deciding who to trust was a feature of the story and I think the author did a good job of keeping me wondering about several characters through different phases of the story.
My one real complaint is the flashbacks and dreams. I found the changes too abrupt and therefore confusing more than once. It is largely typical of Fantasy in that the protagonist goes on a journey fraught with dangers and enemies on every side, but the ambiguity of the good/evil dichotomy in various characters, including Maia herself, gives it an original slant and hold interest.
As a first book of a trilogy, the ending did tie up the immediate situation adequately, while leaving larger questions open for the books to follow. I will look forward to reading them.