Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows (Orphan Queen book 1)

“Wilhelmina has a hundred identities. She is a princess. She is a spy. She is a threat.”

In the kingdoms, magic was freely used for everything, from building and farming to war. Radiants were the wielders of magic and some families comprised of several radiants became powerful. Wraith is a toxic byproduct of magic use but there was never enough to be a problem. When it did become a problem one hundred year earlier, the Indigo King, Terrell Pierce the Second, forced most of the surrounding kingdoms to sign the Wraith Alliance, which banned the use of magic. Radiants became the hunted and wealthy families were left in ruins while new powerful ones rose without the use of magic. Wraith was used by some to make themselves bigger, happier and stronger. But if they use too much, the changes become permanent and Glowmen were created. Aecor didn’t sign the Alliance and soon became a place for radiants to hide until the One-Night War.

Ten years ago, the Indigo Army invaded Aecor. They slaughtered every noble adult living in Sandcliff Castle. Wilhelmina Korte and a young Prince Tobiah from the Indigo Kingdom, watch as her parents, the king and queen of Aecor, are beheaded along with the adult members of their court. Their surviving children were taken to the capital of the Indigo Kingdom, Skyvale. After a year of living in the orphanage, they escaped and named themselves after their national animal, the osprey. For Wil, she now has nothing without the Ospreys and with them, she hopes to take back her conquered kingdom. Oppressed by King Terrell the Fourth, she only has the kingdom's orphans and a few rebel groups left to fight with her. She keeps her magical abilities a secret from everyone. Looking at her to resurrect their lost kingdom, she hopes to retake her rightful place and become Queen Wilhelmina.

Even though she is the heir to the kingdom, Patrick Lien is older and the natural leader of the Ospreys. He feels that they are on a tight deadline with the tenth anniversary of the One- Night War approaching. He has made an elaborate plan that he hopes will get Wil and her best friend Melanie into the Skyvale palace. Posing as refugee Liadian nobility, King Terrill cannot refuse them entrance since Liadia signed the Wealth Alliance. Inside the palace, it will up to the girls to find intelligence about the Indigo Army and what they know about resistance groups throughout Aecor in order to plant false information.  They also hope to discover if the Aecorian refugees are being drafted in the Indigo Army to fight in the wraithlands. The rest of the Ospreys will reach out to the resistance groups and any remaining refugees to let them know that Princess Wilhelmina is still alive.

With their forged documents, Wil and Mel gain an audience with King Terrill. Her papers state that she is Lady Juliana Whitman, the heir to Liadia. Wil is surprised to see that Prince Tobiah is with his father. She is worried that he might recognize her but he doesn't. Furthermore, she is stunned to see that the man who destroyed her life is frail and looks as if he has been ill for some time. They are given sanctuary in the palace for as long as they need. The first step in their plan is set. On their way to their rooms, they run into Lady Meredith Corcoran and Lady Chuy Chuter. Lady Meredith invites them to that night's ball being held in honor of her engagement. Lady Chuy asks if they brought their gowns and Lady Meredith chastise her. The two of them make arrangements to have gowns delivered to them.

At the Chuter mansion, Wil and Mel are seated in the back with several military men, including a young Lieutenant James Rayner, Crown Prince Tobiah’s principal bodyguard. Wil recalls that the queen’s maiden name was Rayner and that her sister’s child was born amid scandal. James must be that child. A bit of a flirt, he escorts Wil to the ballroom for a dance. At one point in the evening, Prince Tobiah comes to dance with her. They talk about the Wraith Alliance and Wil/Juliana is interested in helping with the cause. When the dance is finished, Tobiah notices that Wil has gone pale. She is thinking over how difficult her life has been. He walks her to a chair where they sit and talk. Wil asks him about the different houses that families belong to and the topic of magic comes up. Not meaning to bring up a difficult subject, Tobiah lets her know that anything relating to magic is prohibited in the Indigo Kingdom since the Alliance. Wil asks if everyone complies and he tells her that those who don’t , the Indigo Order will find. Wil brings up Black Knife and Tobiah wants to know if he is known in Liadia. She tells him that she has heard the stories from the refugee children on her way to the city. In fact, Wil and the Ospreys had a run in with Black Knife before coming to the palace. She asks what happens to the magical users after they are caught. Tobiah will only tells her that they no longer use magic.

The Black Knife doesn't care if magic is used for good or evil, it was all the same to him. He is worshiped by the citizens of Skyvale as he rounds up the glowmen and wraith beasts who make their way to the area. He also spots burglars and leaves them tied up for the police. Wil keeps running into him in Skyvale. Following Mel when she sneaks out of the palace to see where she is going, Wil finds Black Knife following her on the rooftops. He is always masked so she is unable to tell what he looks like. Black Knife is trying to figure out who she is and what she is doing.

Will anyone figure out who Wilhelmina really is? Can the Ospreys help Wil reclaim their kingdom? Who is Black Knife? What is he really doing? Does Wil keep her magical abilities hidden? What secrets do Wil and Mel uncover while at the palace? Does Tobiah recognize Wil? What is wrong with King Terrill? Will the wraith come to the Indigo Kingdom?

Book two, The Mirror King, will be published in March 2016.
There will also be four Black Knife novellas. The first, The Hidden Prince, is out June 6 while the second,  The Glowing Knight, is out Sept. 1.

Visit Jodi Meadows’ website.

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