The Sentinel Mage (The Cursed Kingdoms #1)
By Emily Gee
Published: January 25, 2011
eBook, 509 pages
Her magic may be the only thing that can save a prince—and the Seven Kingdoms.
In a distant corner of the Seven Kingdoms, an ancient curse festers and grows, consuming everything in its path. Only one man can break it: Harkeld of Osgaard, a prince with mage’s blood in his veins. But Prince Harkeld has a bounty on his head—and assassins at his heels.
Innis is a gifted shapeshifter. Now she must do the forbidden: become a man. She must stand at Prince Harkeld’s side as his armsman, protecting and deceiving him. -- Goodreads
But the deserts of Masse are more dangerous than the assassins hunting the prince. The curse has woken deadly creatures, and the magic Prince Harkeld loathes may be the only thing standing between him and death.
With an awesome premise of gender bending shape shifting, The Sentinel Mage stands out among other fantasies. However, its somewhat repetitive dialogue and predictable plot bog the novel, which should have been so much more.
Prince Harkeld of Osgaard has been raised with the notion that mages are vile creatures that eat humans and destroy everything good in this world. So when it’s revealed that he possesses mage blood himself, he is ready to say adios in fear of his “cannibalistic” inner nature. Too bad he has far more important things to do because his blood and hands are the only things that will save the world from a centuries old curse.
Since Harkeld is going bananas about his mage blood and mages in general, the mages protecting Harkeld have to find a guardsman to protect the prince because Harkeld’s evil daddy wants his son’s blood for far more nefarious plans. The only option is Innis, a powerful shapeshifter, to shapeshift into a man to protect him. As they journey together, both Harkeld and Innis will have to trust each other in order to survive.
Although my beautiful recap of the novel is perfect, the actual book is a slightly more draggy and dull. Many fantasy novels are basically the protagonists traveling through the woods toward a goal while beating up the bad guys. The Sentinel Mage does not deviate from this common theme for the most part. Even though there were three interwoven storylines, the main story of Harkeld and Innis kept dragging down the far more intriguing storyline about Harkeld’s sister, Princess Brigitta, who is forced to marry a malicious nobleman and her guardsman.
Furthermore, the third storyline should not count as a plotline because all that happens is Jaumé walks to toward the action. He does not meet the action yet, so his chapters were basically restatements of “He walked more today” with different words. I wish there was more about Jaumé than just him walking because he most likely will play a major role in the future books of this trilogy.
Despite these few setbacks, The Sentinel Mage is a truly enjoyable fantasy. Emily Gee is a wonderful writer who knows how to create a horrifically beautiful settings and how to write characters with dimension. Brigitta’s dilemma between drugging herself or experiencing her husband raping her totally grabbed my heart. She probably is my favorite character in the series for her strength and perseverance. Hopefully the future books in the series focus more on her because she is such an awesome heroine.
All in all, The Sentinel Mage could and definitely should have been more than it was. Harkeld and Innis are really the more important plotline, but Brigitta’s conflict was far more intriguing than several people journeying to three rocks. However, if you enjoy the fantasy genre, you’re guaranteed that this will be an exciting, yet forgettable read.