by J. Kathleen Cheney (Dream Palace Press)
The book opens with a ranking officer who is also a seer playing chess with the young man Llelas, who came to find out why he was being sent to the newly-reopened War College. The seer simply tells him that Llelas’ fate is bound to the king’ daughter Ellis Dantreon: if he lives she lives, and if she dies he will die. Someone else wants the throne and she will be in the way. He is being sent to the War College to protect her, and to gain allies. He thinks himself a most unlikely person for this position, and as the book progresses you find out just how chequered Llelas’ past really is.
So the war college starts. And Llelas is shocked to find the kings’ daughter barefoot and working in the kitchen, with only two guards who stay for their room and board (one is also married to the cook) in an impoverished, unprotected, barely funded citadel that used to house The War College of Amiestrin. The king (a seer himself, and the only one who is public about it) never gave explicit permission to reopen it, and his daughter is very curiously neglected by him, both in funds and attention. The Seers among them engineered the new War College, because they’ve divined that Ellis will be the factor as to whether her younger brother takes the throne.
Ellis is made a cadet along with all the rest, which does not sit well with some of the other students–all males, and from various ethnicities of the kingdom. Her book learning goes quite well, since she has a photographic memory for anything she reads, but the physical side of soldiering leaves her exhausted. She has to learn swordplay, horseback riding, guns and physical combat. Llelas is her martial arts instructor. He is also gifted, but not as a seer. And he sees disturbing things going on at Ameistrin, and the nearby village, that no one else can see.
The writing is crisp and the story leads you right along. This is going to be a great new series.