Paperback: 419 pages
Publisher: Gardners Books (December 31, 2004)
Category(ies): Mediaeval Fantasy
It seems rather appropriate to be reading a novel about the World Cup at the moment. However, this isn't anything to do with football - the closest we get to that is a few games of chess.
Our heroine, Phaedra, is the newly nubile only daughter of the warden of Trant. This baron, despite ruling about a tenth of the kingdom that is the setting, is somewhat under his daughter's thumb and, when she refuses suitor after suitor, he doesn't do what most of his peers would have done, but allows her to choose.
And she does indeed choose.
Indeed, she continues to choose throughout this book, and her choices mean that what could have been a predictable story weaves and winds, and in the end, a lot of people die.
This works for me because, despite the deeply conservative setting (hey, we even have Easter — no interesting cod-Christianity here, but the real thing), the writer is playing against the great romantic tropes. This has no happy ending, and though the heroine gets her man, that's early on, and it's what happens after that matters.
Oh, and forget that cover picture. It's quite pretty, but very misleading indeed.
In conclusion: Sufficiently unpredictable to not be Yet Another Cod Mediaeval Romance.