Defending the Sword

by Gina Quilici

Reviewed by Coral

Exiled from the kingdom of Fallon for refusing to turn over the man who murdered the King's son, the House of Zorak bided its time, just waiting for the moment to exact their revenge. Seven years ago, their time came, as the King fell into a endless sleep. He does not eat or drink, yet does not die or age.

Now, very nearly a prisoner in her own castle, Princess Shayla swears to kill herself if on her twenty-third birthday - the day she receives her powers - if she cannot free her people. But, she may have more help that she believes. The Wise One, an old friend of her father's, knows of a prophecy in which a marked man will come to Fallon and deliver the nation from Zorak, marrying Shayla so that they may rule together in love. The Wise One believes he has found this man. But can this Leo truly free the people of Fallon? Can he really be the prophesized hero when Shayla finds herself in love with another?

Maybe someone can explain to me why Shayla, her father and the Wise One were all left alive? If I were Zorak and I had just conquered Fallon, the first thing I would have done was to make sure there was no one left alive to challenge my claim to the throne. I mean, the Wise One had spent all these years trying to find a cure for the illness that plagues the king, Shayla was about to turn 23 and receive her powers, and Zorak does nothing more than check up on them once and awhile. The man had 7 years to arrange for them all to meet with "accidents" instead of letting them live, giving the people hope.

Yeah, I know the author said Zorak needed Shayla to come of age because if she received her powers and married his son, Midor, the powers would pass to their children. But why take a chance? Why not just kill her and see what happens? The powers would have had to find someone else to be the legitimate ruler, wouldn't it? If they didn't want to take a chance, they should have just imprisoned her completely or something, none of this going off to visit people that are conspiring against Zorak. Stupid villains.

Not that the protagonists were any better. The Wise One practically outlined all of the illegal things he'd been doing to Leo and his friend the first time he meets them. I know he thought Leo was their prophesized hero, but you'd think he'd be a little more covert, all things considered. He'd only just met the two of them, at that point he had no idea what kind of men they were.

Shayla is kind of rude, not that anyone calls her on it. When she first meets Leo he is accusing a boy of stealing from his friend, and she assumes that he must be lying because a child she talks to can't possibly be a thief. Of course when she's proven wrong, the boy doesn't get any kind of punishment. Also, she's not the brightest crayon in the box. Zorak holds you prisoner. Maybe you shouldn't try and provoke him into killing you.

The "twist" about Leo's friend Devon was not all that twisty. I called it from the first meeting between Leo, Devon and the Wise One.

The plot gets rather more contrived - I know, I didn't think it possible either - when instead of using the men who helped him conquer Fallon, Zorak hires some random dude named Robert and - surprise surprise - Leo to watch over Shayla. Yeah, how believable.

The author's style of writing is a little awkward sometimes. Some of her sentences really could be combined into one; instead the paragraphs have this repetitive feel to them.

Grade: F