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Urdaisunia, once favored by the gods above all other lands, now lies defeated and in ruins. The gods, displeased by the Urdais' weakness, have turned their backs on the land and left it to die.
Rashali, a widowed Urdai peasant, has vowed to destroy the conquering Sazars and restore Urdaisunia to greatness.
Prince Eruz, heir to the Sazar throne, is driven by his conscience to walk a dangerous line between loyalty and treason to do what he believes is best for all the people of Urdaisunia.
When Rashali and Eruz meet by chance, the gods take notice, and a divine wager sends peasant and prince on intertwining paths of danger, intrigue, love, and war in their fight to save the land they both love - Urdaisunia.
(Contains adult themes, violence, and mild to moderate sensual content.)
Near East Flavor
This review was first published on Kurt's Frontier.
The land of Urdaisunia has been ruled by the Sazar for seventy years. Once a land favored by the gods above all other lands, the Urdias have been defeated and abandoned by their gods due to their weakness. All Urdias look to the day that they will finally destroy the Sazars and reclaim their homeland.
Rashali certainly wishes that. A widowed peasant woman, she has vowed to restore her people to greatness. Then she meets Prince Eruz, heir to the Sazar throne, and both their lives are turned upside down. Prince Eruz is a man whose conscience leads in down a perilous path between loyalty and treason. His efforts to do what is best for all the people living in Urdaisunia puts him at odds with his father, brother, and half-brother. Both of his brothers think that they should be the heirs. His father confuses his compassion with weakness.
The meeting of Rashali and Eruz have come to the attention of the gods. They become the subject of a divine wager. Peasant and prince’s fates are now intertwined. Their paths lead them through palace intrigue, love, and treachery as they fight to save Urdaisunia—the land they both love.
Kyra Halland has woven a tale of forbidden love. A peasant widow from a conquered people and a conscientious prince of the conquering people make an unlikely pair. It is said that gods love irony. Rashali’s husband and daughter died in a famine. She has many reasons to hate the conquering Sazar. She has learned to expect nothing but contempt and cruelty from her overlords. When Prince Eruz accidentally spills the water she is carrying, rather than kill her, he allows her to collect more water. This act of compassion causes Rashali to question her hatred. The prince has long questioned his father’s policy of repression. He can see for himself the desperation of the Urdias. Their meeting causes reverberations on heaven and in Urdaisunia.
The setting has a Near East flavor to it. The story is not a typical romance. Rashali is a grieving widow, and Eruz is in a polygynous marriage with multiple wives due to his royal station. Both rebel and prince have to deal with intrigues in their various groups. Intrigues both know are self-destructive. The story moves along at a moderate pace and is very enjoyable.