Book Review: Princess of the Sword by Lynn Kurland

Posted March 13, 2020 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: Princess of the Sword by Lynn Kurland

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Princess of the Sword by Lynn Kurland
Genres: Historical
Published by Berkley on January 6, 2009
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: the library

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Also by this author: Dreams of Lilacs, Ever My Love, A Tapestry of Spells, Star of the Morning, The Mage’s Daughter, Dreamspinner, River of Dreams, Dreamer's Daughter

Third in the Nine Kingdoms historical fantasy series and revolving around Gair of Ceangail’s dead children. The couple focus is on Morgan of Melksham and Miach of Neroche.

My Take

It’s so sad about Gair. A brilliant young man with a great deal of curiosity who really needed a challenge, but fell instead to the dark side.

We do make progress. Morgan finds two more brothers while Miach conquers an old enemy at great cost. It all comes about through sneakiness and family, magic and love with plenty of action. The escapes are unparalleled — that chess game…urgh…! In some ways, the action is easier than when the series started with Star of the Morning, 1, but that could be due to a better familiarity with Kurland’s world.

Kurland primarily uses a third person dual protagonist point-of-view from Miach’s and Morgan’s perspectives with prose that does (and does not) help with understanding what’s happening. Kurland is sometimes vague on the details. Nor does it help with all these odd names. Just go with the flow and don’t worry about it too much.

Léir Soilléir appears to be a good man, but as Miach notes, a cruel one as well, for he needs to be sure that the magic he passes on can be handled responsibly by his students. Droch. Well, Droch doesn’t want anyone handling his spells, and he certainly despises anyone who can use Olc. Droch reminds me of Professor Snape from Harry Potter. No matter how evil Droch is, someone’s always better than him. And does that ever tick him off!

Okay, we’re learning more, as Kurland continues dribbling bits and pieces out. We finally learn the name of one of Nicholas’ sons. Yeah, okay, I’m dribbling too, lol. The really big reveal is that Sarait had been goading Gair into showing off, hoping to get him to destroy himself. That pride thing again. It goeth before a fall.

People are so entwined, and there are so many ex-rulers. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the rulers of other countries (in our world) could give up power so easily?

Kurland’s world of magic has assorted rules to make things interesting. One I dislike is that only the mage who took the power can give it back. Dagnabit.

The powers-that-be are much too forgiving. They had Lothar bound ages ago and wouldn’t kill him. Kurland does mention a prophecy in which the king and archmage of Neroche must be one for Lothar to be bested, so maybe that’s why??

What a difference a beer makes.

The Story

As the mercenary daughter of Gair, the black mage of Ceangail, Morgan is the only one who can stop the terrible sorcery her father unleashed. To do so, she must race against time and find the spell that will allow her to close the well of evil he opened. But that quest will lead her to places she never dreamed existed and into a darkness she would give anything to avoid.

With the fate of Neroche intertwined with the closing of Gair’s well, the archmage Miach must help Morgan find what she needs, not only because the safety of the Nine Kingdoms hangs in the balance, but because he will do anything to protect her. Now, as they search out the mysteries of Ceangail — and the dangers of Morgan’s own bloodline — Morgan and Miach have only each other to trust, heart and soul…

The Characters

A council of kings works together to ensure the Nine Kingdoms stays safe.

Morgan of Melksham has a preference for sharp swords, and while she has hated mages in the past, she has strong feelings for one in particular.

The Kingdom of Neroche stands…
…between Lothar and the rest of the kingdoms. Prince Mochriadhemiach, a.k.a., Miach of Neroche, is the archmage of the kingdom, the youngest brother of their idiot king, Adhemar. Adaira of Penrhyn is Adhemar’s queen. The next oldest brother is the practical Cathar, who engages in trade without Adhemar’s awareness. Nemed, the crown-fondling Rigaud, and the twins, Turah and Mansourah are the rest of Miach’s brothers. Sir Doigheil is in charge of housing for everyone. Peter is a page. The widow Tonnag brews a fine ale.

King Gilraehen the Fey and the adventurous Queen Mehar, who forged the Sword of Angesand as well as the dagger, are former rulers of Neroche. Mehar intends to offer her aid in reforging the sword. Harold the Bold is Gil and Mehar’s son and the bubbly Catriona is Harold’s wife. King Yngerame and Mâire are the parents of Lothar and Symon, the first king of Neroche.

Princess Beatrice of Penrhyn is a nasty person.

Buidseachd, Beinn òrain, is…
…a mages school built on a spring of magic 3,000 years ago. Master Ceannard is the headmaster. There are ten wizards here, each acknowledged as a master of his craft. Droch of Saothair is the master of Olc with a huge network of spies; Léir Soilléir of Cothromaiche is the master of essence changing, Caochladh magic, and is the only one who can keep Droch in check. Rùnach is so damaged that he hides himself and serves as Soilléir’s assistant. Reudan. The chess pieces include Uallach and Murdina of Faoin as the white king and queen. The Uneasy Dragon is an inn.

Tòrr Dòrainn is…
…an elvish kingdom ruled by Síle, Morgan’s grandfather from his palace, Seanagarra. Brèagha is his wife. Sarait was his youngest daughter who had married Gair and was later murdered by him. Sosar is Sìle’s youngest son, and his magic has been taken.

Sgath and Eulasaid, Gair’s parents, are at Cladach

The Kingdom of Ainneamh is…
…ruled by elves. Proíseil had been king centuries ago.

Cruadal of Duibhreas is a rejected suitor of Morgan’s who isn’t taking it well.

Gobhann is…
…Weger’s keep is a magic sink where Scrymgeour Weger, a master swordsman, runs a school. To earn his mark is to be the best.

Durial is…
…the kingdom of the dwarves and is ruled by King Uachdaran from the city of Léige. Ceardach is the master blacksmith.

Paien, Camid, the cheating Glines of Balfour, and the not-too-competent Fletcher of Harding are Morgan’s mercenary companions.

Lismòr is…
…a school and an orphanage created by Nicholas, the former wizard king of Diarmailt and Morgan’s uncle, in honor of his murdered wife and Sarait’s sister, Lismòrian. Reil had been their eldest son.

Aherin is…
…the home of Hearn, the lord of Angesand, and his remarkable horses with their own language. Gerald and Thomas want to be pages at Neroche. Luath, Fleòd, Rèaltan, and Reannag are the horses Miach and Morgan have acquired from Hearn. Unfortunately, the first two are inciting riot at Hearn’s stables with their talk of wings.

Ceangail was…
…once part of Wychweald and was ceded to Gair by King Renauld, Miach’s cousin Stefan’s grandfather’s grandfather five hundred years ago. I think Díobhail is the name of Prince Gair’s keep there. Gair’s bastards now occupy the keep. Acair is his last bastard son.

Gair had been one of the blackest of black mages with horrible spells of his own invention, including one of Diminishing, of taking the magic of another mage. Well, he was. He’s dead now. And those of his children who died? Well, not all of them died. Mhorghain. Rùnach. Keir who no longer has power. The other sons included Brogch, Gille, Eglach, and Ruith. Sarait had been their mother.

Lothar of Wychweald is a black mage who loves to terrorize; he’s also Miach’s great-uncle many generations removed. He’s using the dribble coming out of the well to create things. He has cast a covetous eye on Neroche for centuries.

There are many types of magic in the Nine Kingdoms, and those magics are generally responsive only to what the mage has in his veins. With enough power though… Olc is a black evil magic; Caochladh is of changing the essence of a thing; Fadaire; Camanaë is one of healing; Lugham is a vulgar magic of Ceangail and a bastardization of Wexham; and, Croxteth.

The first master of Olc was Duaichnidh. Now the blood has concentrated in Dorchadas of Saothair who left two of his sons alive: Droch and Wehr of Wrekin, Miach’s maternal great-grandfather.

The Cover and Title

The cover is colorful in its greens and oranges with that bright blue and cloudy sky with a range of mountains rising from left to right. The mountains continue to pop as they come forward. The castle of Neroche rises from the side of one on the left while Morgan, in a sideways pose, her long curly hair falling on either side of her head, in a toga-like outer gown in an orange print belted at the waist with her scabbard tucked behind her, wears a cream underblouse with a purple figured vest and a teal blue band beneath it. She has struck a rebellious pose, her right arm straight out, her left holding her sword braced to swing from behind her, and one knee bent.

The title is who Morgan is, the Princess of the Sword.

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