Ishtaer is a mystery. A blind slave, beaten and broken by her sadistic mistress, with no memory of a time before her enslavement.
Kael Vapensigsson is one of the elite Chosen – a warlord whose strength comes from the gods themselves. But despite all his power and prestige, he is plagued by a prophecy that threatens to destroy everything he loves. When Kael summons Ishtaer to his room and discovers the marks of the Chosen on her body, including the revered mark of the Warrior, both warlord and slave seem to have met their match.
But as their lives become increasingly entangled and endangered, Ishtaer is forced to test whether the Chosen ever have the ability to choose their own fate.
Comment: I've read about this book in a review site and the person who read it liked it a lot and described some ideas that really appealed to me in terms of plot. I immediately added it to my books but only in the last few days did I start it.
This is a fantasy story about Kael, a sort of warlord in an Empire and in one mission, Kael rescues a young girl because she's been abused by her master. In the Empire servants are to be treated with respect so he can't understand how the girl's owner can treat her like that. Kael and his crewmembers travel back home, where the girl, upon discovery of her tattooed marks is labeled a thrice marked person, the signs revealing she must have had important parents.
But Ishtaer, the girl's name, is weak after years of misuse, being sold as a slave and she has a hard time dealing with things, even more so because she is blind.
But studying and getting stronger will only be the start of her recovery and improvement.
With time, Kael starts to fall in love with Ishtaer, who's actually a 20 year old and not a young girl, but will she be able to reciprocate?
This sounds like a fairy tale fantasy, the strong powerful guy rescuing the poor girl and they find out she 's actually the missing important daughter of a rich man and later on the embodiment of all the things their people look up to become. Sure, it's fantasy, it's predictable and simplistic in its base, but for me the author made it work.
This is supposed to be a romance and things take a while to develop considering Ishtaer's state of mind and past experiences. Still, the end should have been more obvious, more detailed because the beauty of HEAs is to wow and dazzle us with its message. Imagining things isn't as good as seeing it even if in just three or four pages.
Apart from this, there are a couple more things I found annoying in a way, and that stopped me from giving this a higher grade.
First, the constant alternation between Ishtaer's indignation about something Kael says or does and then Kael's exact same behavior. One time, one of them is right, then the other is...almost like they had to be the ones in the right - no fault of theirs: they had good reasons to be defensive - but seeing this one, two, three times gets repetitive and annoying.
Another small detail that isn't that decisive to the plot but for me, personally, should have been done differently was how they took the step to become intimate. I understand the tactic, after all Ishtaer needed time to heal both physically and mentally, but the author, in my opinion, didn't make that transition as smooth as possible...I can't explain it, it just felt like it.
Overall, though, this story is engaging and entertaining. I really had a fun time reading and wanted to keep turning the pages. I love the idea of poor or wronged heroines getting their strength back with the help of the hero, but not always dependent on them. I liked Ishtaer's journey to healing and honesty and even love. The basic plot, about defeating Ishtaer's former owner had its merits but some of the ways of it seem exaggerated, probably to suit plot moves.
Ishtaer had a lot going on but she changed...I would have loved to see her more sweet on certain scenes, but her evolution is consistent, in a way, with all the abuse she suffered. I liked how special she was, how she managed to show everyone even blind people can achieve a lot. Her change was special and I was rooting for her.
Kael is an interesting hero. He starts being commanding and almost menacing, but changes too. One could say it was love that changed him but he seemed to do that before he realized he was in love. Sure, those moments were the best. I loved the friendship scenes between him and Ishtaer.
Their romance could have been stronger but I was so entertained by the scenes featuring their personalities and the interactions between them and where they were with other people, that some small details now seem dismissible.
This fantasy has a heroine who gets stronger and can do things other's can't. It's an old message for fairy tales, that you have the power to be different, to be anyone you want if only you try your best. But I think some details should have been smoother for this to be perfect. Nevertheless, I loved the book, it's was so easy to pick the book and keep reading, the action was always engaging somehow and as a whole, this is a very positive story.