by Eric J. Hull and C. M. Stultz

"Taking the medallion from his pocket, he tossed it into the corner, revolted by the sudden murmur of the Pendulum's voice in his head."

A war between the kingdoms of Edge and Faires that has lasted generations finally results in decades of firm but tenuous peace. However, peace comes after a battle claims the home and wife of an old wizard who immediately gets revenge by casting a curse that affects the bloodlines of both of kingdoms. Prince Aaren, the only heir of Edge, is born with the unusual ability to start fires when he becomes angry, summoning a blue aura that engulfs the object of his ire. Princess Sare, the third princess of Faires, grows uncontrollably hot and catches fire without warning, leaving her badly scarred and fearful for her own safety. A third, unrelated child, twisted by his dysfunctional family and a curious discovery in a forest cave, rises up to command the forces of darkness and embroil the land in war once more.

Written in a classical fantasy style, this story combines the militaristic and the magical. While there are talks of treaties and troop movements, this is balanced with the presence of strange monsters, enchanted swords, and spells used for both good and evil. Like most books of the genre, there are elements that should appeal to all kinds of readers, from the blooming yet secret romance of Aaren and Sare to the bloody, action-fueled battles with Dark Michael's army. The plot unfolds at a speed and in a fashion that allows readers to see certain developments coming before the characters do but also provides a healthy dose of clever surprises and exciting twists. Lovers of fantasy who have more desire to read about the human elements of the characters than about treasures and epic quests will pick this book up and devour it quickly, ready and waiting for the next in the series.

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