Title: Orphan’s Blade
Series: Chronicles of Ebonvale #2
Author: Aubrie Dionne
Format: eBook, 245 pgs
Published: Nov. 10, 2015 by Lyrical Press
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 3 out of 5 Wine Glasses
In the battle for a kingdom, every alliance counts…
Princess Valoria only cares about her music and her destiny: to unite the Kingdom of Ebonvale with the House of Song and succeed where her father has failed. As if that weren’t challenge enough, she must contend with her marriage to a battle hungry brute of a prince… until she falls for his adopted brother, the orphaned son of a blacksmith. But with a horde of undead gathering to attack Ebonvale, Valoria will have to choose between her personal happiness and the safety of the kingdom. Now the fate of Ebonvale rests in her heart.
Valoria is the princess of the House of Song and is betrothed to Brax the prince of Ebonvale. These two factions have been mistrustful of each other for years but with the army of the undead growing and getting closer and closer under the command of a necromancer, the two houses need to band together to fight. When Valoria and Nathaniel, Brax's adopted brother, meet they have an instant connection. Battling undead and attraction, Valoria, Nathaniel, and Brax must pull together to save the kingdoms and their people.
Orphan's Blade is the second book in the Ebonvale series and while it would be possible to start here, your best bet would be to start with the first (Minstrel's Serenade) in the series. There you'll be introduced and find more explanation to the magical world this series is set in, not to mention the importance of the relationships between most of the secondary characters and the introduction to who is our lead hero in this book. This story seems to start about 20yrs after the first book and while the wyverns (dragons) were the main villain in that one, the undead army has that role here. Everyone fears them and we get two battle scenes featuring them. There were a lot of similarities to the story structure from the first: a love triangle, a journey to acquire a special item that will defeat the villain, an orphan boy taken in, and a big ending battle scene. While the first had spark and charm, I felt this one was missing some heart.
In a love triangle with a very King Arthur, Genevieve, and Lancelot feel, Valoria is betrothed to Brax but finds herself drawn to Nathaniel (Nip from book one) his adopted brother. It's obvious from the beginning that Valoria and Nathaniel are our love interests but even then I felt the character of Brax was overdone in his harshness to make him more unappealing (until the very end where of course he softens to probably become future leading man bait). Valoria and Nathaniel think about how they need to avoid one another but never really take the actions to do so, they doth protest too much but still manage to always be together. Valoria was a good strong willed woman character who wanted to show her strength on the battlefield and fortunately had the skills to belong there. Nathaniel was a strong gentle soul who loved his adopted family deeply and never made the wrong decision. They were a soothing couple but won't blind you with their light.
The fantasy aspect, setting and magic, is done well, I could easily picture this magical medieval like world. The characters are all there but lacked the ability to make me really care for them. There is a death of an important character that should have had me shocked and saddened but it happened so quickly and without depth that I hardly felt anything at all. The ending also involved a great tragic love story but it was rushed and a bit confusing. That was the main problem I had with this story, I liked it but everything was just there. Whether it was the scraping of the surface feel, sameness to the first story, or the characters snapping through the story plots, I was never emotionally invested.
The magical world is interesting and the characters flow together nicely, if looking for a fantasy world with some romance, this would be a nice afternoon read.
Suggested Reading Order:
Minstrel's Serenade (Chronicles of Ebonvale, #1)