The kingdom of Ile-Rein lies in peril, menaced by sorcerous threats and devious court intrigues. As the weak King Roland, flattered and misled by treacherous companions, rules the country, only his ruthless mother, the Dowager Queen Ravenna, guards the safety of the realm. But now rumors arise that Urbain Grandier, the dark master of scientific sorcery, has arrived to plot against the throne. And Kade, bastard sister of King Roland, appears unexpectedly at court. The illegitimate daughter of the old king and the Queen of Air and Darkness herself, Kade's true desires are cloaked in mystery. Is she in league with the wizard Grandier? Or is she laying claim to the throne?
Bracing himself, Thomas stepped through the ward and onto the first step, and had to steady himself against the wall as the effect faded. He shook his head and started up the stairs.
The banister was carved with roses which swayed under a sorcerous breeze only they could sense. Thomas climbed slowly, looking for the next trap. When he stopped at the first landing, he could see that the top of the stairs opened into a long gallery, lit by dozens of candles in mirror-backed sconces. Red draperies framed mythological paintings and classical landscapes. At the far end was a door, guarded on either side by a man-sized statuary niche. One niche held an angel with flowing locks, wings, and a beatific smile. The other niche was empty.
Thomas climbed almost to the head of the stairs, looking up at the archway that was the entrance to the room. Something suspiciously like plaster dust drifted down from the carved bunting.
A tactical error, Thomas thought. Whatever was hiding
I liked it, nice blend of royal political intrigue and magic. The magic is not overdone and successfully adds to the story. A lot of characters are rapidly introduced early in the book so pay attention. Kade is an interesting character that could have been further developed, disappointing that the book ends with unanswered questions about her.
I think Martha Wells writes some of the very best fantasy going today. Her attention to detail, strong characters and original settings make every book a gem.
I loved it! Very detailed, lots of action, fast paced and interesting at all times.
At first it was rather confusing. I think the edits the author did the electronic addition made portions of the story somewhat choppy and confusing.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it as a light read for a rainy afternoon.
Excellent writing combines with believable characters and a colourful world in this fantasy novel. That's why I give 5 points. However, it's not to my taste that the action is emotionally heavy with thick plotting all over the one place, which isn't left most of the time, and the magic system is not even glossed over. It must be a symptom of fantasy written by female authors, that any technical detail, be it magic or fighting, is lovelessly ignored. So, then I'm a sexist. You will like the book, nonetheless.
You lucky people who can download this for free! The first book I read by Wells was "City of Bones" and was electrified by it. At the time I read "City", "Element of Fire" was her only other novel at the time, and it was out of print. I was so taken by "City" that I decided to invest $40 on a proof copy of "Element" that I found on line. After reading "Element", I felt vindicated for splurging on the $40. And here it is for free! This is an interesting paradigm in itself, where you have no risk but your time investment. Except that you might get hooked on Wells and have to buy/borrow her other books, and get pulled into those... hey, first one's free...!
This was one of my first downloads and I was pleasantly pleased by the depth of talent I found in this book. I cared for the characters. the plot moved smoothly. AND IT WAS FREE!! Martha Wells has hooked me. I go to marthawells.com to check out her new stuff. I will be ordering more of her work and am happy to suggest this book to lovers of fantasy fiction.