I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Star of the Morning by Lynn Kurland
Published by Berkley on December 5, 2006
Source: my own shelves
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Also by this author: Dreams of Lilacs, Ever My Love, A Tapestry of Spells, The Mage’s Daughter, Princess of the Sword, Dreamspinner, River of Dreams, Dreamer's Daughter
First in the Nine Kingdoms fantasy series and revolving around revolving around Gair of Ceangail’s dead children. The couple focus is on Morgan, a mercenary, and Miach, an archmage-cum-farmer.
It’s a two-part tale in that Adhémar is on a quest to find a mage to wield a magic sword and inadvertently discovers what a buffoon he is. It’s both funny and sad how insecure and delusional he is. The other half of the tale is more serious as Morgan is sent on an errand to deliver a dagger (and meet her destiny).
Poor Morgan. It’s a destiny that includes magic on so many levels, and she is so prejudiced against magic!
Kurland uses a third person global subjective point-of-view with the primary perspectives from Morgan and Miach. Of course, Adhémar has his own perspective…it’s how we learn what an idiot he is, lol.
It’s an interesting world Kurland creates with a mixed prose that is both obfuscating and to the point. It’s also a small world in that it consists only of nine kingdoms, but a mix of elves and humans. Oh, yeah. A mix in so many ways, lol.
Usually a fantasy novel/world is serious, but Kurland has plenty of fun in this, witness Adhémar(!) as well as Miach’s actions in getting Adhémar out of the kingdom on the pretext that only he can recognize the mage who can swing the other magic sword of Neroche.
There’s plenty of deception, for Morgan doesn’t know the identities of Adhémar or Miach; Miach pretends he knows very little magic, that he’s just a simple farmer; Glines’ closely held knowledge that he uses to “tease” Miach; and, Morgan, who holds that dagger and her quest secret from her companions.
It’s a tale full of action with battles galore and a blend of easy and uneasy interaction of characters who know each other. It’s a quest driven by its characters, and at times it does feel rather slow.
Evil is abroad in the kingdom of Neroche, for the magic of the king and his sword have been stolen. Adhémar and Miach fear the power of Lothar, and it is imperative that a wielder be found for the Sword of Angeshand.
Orphaned since age six, Morgan of Melksham was raised by Lord Nicholas before heading out to become a mercenary. Morgan’s mercenary companions include Paien of Allerdale, who is wed with a mostly grown family. Glines of Balfour is the youngest son of a minor lord, Graeme, with great skill at gaming. Camid of Carr is a red-haired dwarf who may fight as elegantly as Glines but definitely does it with more enjoyment.
Miach, a.k.a., Buck Buckson, is Adhémar’s youngest brother, the archmage of the kingdom for the past fourteen years with the ability to shift into a hawk.
The Kingdom of Neroche
The foolish and deluded Adhémar is the king with the Sword of Neroche that carries most of the king’s magic. Other brothers include the serious Cathar, the lightminded Rigaud, the gentle Nemed, and the twins, Mansourah and Turah, who prefer weapons. King Anghmar and Queen Desdhemar (the kingdom’s archmage) had been their parents.
The palace of Chagailt was built by King Symon as a wedding present for Iolaire the Fair of Ainneamh and had been the governing center of Neroche until Gilraehen the Fey moved to Tor Neroche. Finlay is the cook.
The Sword of Angesand was created by Mehar of Angesand, a queen of Neroche, who imbued the word with the magic of Camanaë. It hangs in the great hall of Tor Neroche.
Hearn of Angesand is a cousin of Miach’s with Aherin his stronghold where he breeds highly valued horses. His men include Athol and Rupert. Carney is his most skilled guardsman. Reannag will become Morgan’s horse; Rèaltan will be Miach’s.
Lord Nicholas is the wizard king of Diarmailt. His university and orphans home was named Lismòr in honor of his wife, Lismòrian of Tòrr Dòrainn, Sarait’s sister. She and their five sons were murdered. Master James is the gatekeeper. Master Dominicus is the keeper of records. Of the students and/or orphans, Peter plays the lute.
Harding is a wealthy lord always wanting to lay siege. Fletcher is Harding’s eighth son (of eleven) with an urge for adventure.
The Kingdom of Ainneamh is…
…one of elves. Ehrne is king.
Lothar of Wychweald is a black mage determined to take over Neroche. Other black mages include Wehr of Wrekin and Gair of Ceangail. Sarait, the youngest of five daughters of Sile, king of Tòrr Dòrainn, was Gair’s wife who had hoped to change his nature. Gair and Sarait had had six sons, including Keir, the eldest, and a daughter, Mhorghain.
Highly prejudiced against magic, Scrymgeour Weger, a sword master, trains assassins and mercenaries at Gobhann. One of the magics in this world includes Camanaë, a powerful matriarchal magic. There are schools of wizardry at Beinn òain. Adaira is a princess of Penrhyn who is affianced to Adhémar.
The Cover and Title
The cover is primarily bright colonial blues in its summer sky, a stone castle on a hill in the background. Steep snowy mountains frame the sides while a forested lake is off to Morgan’s right, a river flowing on her left. Morgan herself, her long curly dark hair flowing behind her, is facing us, wearing a medieval dress of flowing white skirts, pale blue split sleeves, and a navy V-necked bodice. A brown scabbard lies crosswise across her chest while she holds a sword in each hand, the tips crossed and pointed at the ground. There is an info blurb at the very top in white with the author’s name in a curvaceous serif font, also in white, below that. A testimonial in white starts to the right of Morgan’s elbow while the title is in the same font style in a pale yellow, starting at mid-thigh. The series information is in a tiny white font at the bottom.
The title represents Morgan, the Star of the Morning, bringing hope to a kingdom that needs it.