The Shattered Court
by M.J. Scott
Series: The Four Arts #1
Published on April 28th, 2015
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Also by this author: The Forbidden Heir (The Four Arts, #2)
Entangled in a court ruled by tradition and intrigue, a young witch must come to terms with newfound power and desire—and a choice between loyalty and survival.…
The royal witches of Anglion have bowed to tradition for centuries. If a woman of royal blood manifests powers, she is immediately bound by rites of marriage. She will serve her lord by practicing the tamer magics of the earth—ensuring good harvests and predicting the weather. Any magic more dangerous is forbidden.
Lady Sophia Kendall, thirty-second in line to the throne, is only days away from finding out if she will be blessed—or perhaps cursed—with magic. When a vicious attack by Anglion’s ancient enemies leaves the kingdom in chaos, Sophia is forced to flee the court. Her protector by happenstance is Lieutenant Cameron Mackenzie, a member of the royal guard, raised all his life to be fiercely loyal to the Crown.
Then Sophia’s powers manifest stronger than she ever imagined they would, and Cameron and she are inextricably linked in the process. As a witch unbound by marriage rites, Sophia is not only a threat to the established order of her country, but is also a weapon for those who seek to destroy it. Faced with old secrets and new truths, she must decide if she will fight for her country or succumb to the delicious temptation of power.
I was not surprised I loved The Shattered Court because Alyssa loved it and we tend to have similar tastes, especially in fantasy. For some reason though, I thought it was a young adult book and I quickly became disabused by that notion. This is very much a fascinating adult read.
The world building is so important when writing fantasy and I feel like Scott did a fantastic job here. It never fell prey to the common info-dump and I easily understood the world, the magic, the political and power struggles. The world she created felt very much like the English court life or the 1700 or 1800s, there are kingdoms, ladies-in-waiting, guards, nobility, politics, betrayal, power plays and much more because magic is thrown into the mix.
The magic element is also unique. Yes, it has do a little bit with elements, but also with intent, with ley lines, with control, with blood and what I suspect is a lot of lies. Magic is regulated and protected and as I said, controlled. There is quite a bit that’s still left unexplained and I’m eager to learn more in the next book.
Sophie is one of the princes’ ladies-in-waiting and of royal blood, as such when she turns 21 she might come into her powers as a witch. The more power she develops, the more advantageous her marriage will be. That is to say, she never had any control over her life at all. This is known and accepted by all. Sophie is pretty, a bit shy, unused to the power that becomes her birthright and unprepared by the malice and political turmoil that surrounds her. She was lucky to be smart, learn quickly, be very observant and have Cameron in her corner.
“Maybe turning twenty-one wouldn’t be so bad after all. Perhaps magic would give her some tiny bit of control over her life. Or marriage. Married ladies were not as tightly policed as virgins. If her husband – whoever that might turn out to be – were reasonable, she would be able to decide some small things for herself. “
Cameron becomes Sophie’s protector first, then an ally, lover, friend and lastly love. He’s sweet, has his own power, comes from a noble family, but is the third son and thus is relegated to the military. I really liked their relationship because even though it was triggered by magic, it was realistic and grew into something more. The characterization overall was incredible good. And that’s all I’m saying 🙂
The plot of The Shattered Court is complicated, but not overly so. The intricacies of the political, religious and magical underpinnings of the story is fascinating. The writing is enthralling, and I couldn’t put this one down. It was such a good book. Why then did it missed half a star? Well, I would have loved to see more romance, more Cameron/Sophie time.
“His eyes turned a darker shade of blue, and then his mouth came down on hers, kissing her. Light exploded through her again. Burning and searing. It washed over and through her, and she felt a click like coming home and sliding the key into the lock to open the front door. Meant to be. Natural.”