He can save her life—if he sacrifices those he swore to protect.
King’s bastard Shianan Becknam buries himself in his military career to avoid the family that never wanted him and the dangers of drawing political attention. When the artifact intended to end an interdimensional war is damaged, the mage Ariana is trapped on the other side of the rift with her servant—only the cheery young boy is really one of the monstrous enemy, disguised as a human. Shianan is desperate to rescue Ariana, one of his few friends, but to do so requires committing treason and betraying his duty, leaving his people open to attack.
State mage Ariana struggles to survive as a prisoner of war in a world of deadly magic and unfamiliar customs. Her only ally is her former servant, now a renowned warrior caught up in political machinations. To survive, he’ll have to once again take up the fight against Ariana’s world.
As their people’s wasted armies prepare for fresh battle that will devastate both sides, bastard, mage, and monster must set aside prejudices and rivalries to find an end to centuries of conflict, before they die as traitors.
Book 1 of the Shard of Elan series.
A shield is good to have, especially if it prevents an alien race from infiltrating your world and wreaking death and destruction. It is also highly inconvenient to lose. But when people are forced to wield new weapons, sometimes they surprise themselves. Laura VanArendonk Baugh’s Shard & Shield pursues classic fantasy visions of magic, alien creatures, and troublesome royalty. Its alien Ryuven are well-crafted, and similar enough to humans for empathy and dissimilar enough to be interesting. The story explores a variety of relationships. Romance has its place, but so do friendship and familial bonds. Due to such loves, two heroes commit a crime that irrevocably harms innocents, but the story never reckons with this severe offense and engineers a deception to help them escape punishment. Still, Shard & Shield will intrigue readers with its world-building and complex relationships.
Best for: Fans of fantasy and character-driven fiction.
Discern: Several fights, all on a limited scale; abuse and cruel punishment is inflicted on slaves, prisoners, and an adolescent boy; one scene depicts a character deliberately arousing another; someone attempts to pressure an unwilling subordinate into sexual relations; some language, mostly mild.