Since she was a little girl, the only thing Nihal has wanted to be is a warrior. When a young sorcerer tricks her and wins her sword, Nihal begins to study magic for defense and healing purposes. Her instructor introduces her to a warrior who in turn begins to train Nihal and helps her gain entrance into the elite academy of warriors known as Dragon Riders.
Along the way Nihal discovers that she is the last of a once-great race of half-elves. The voices of her people and their cries for vengeance haunt her dreams. Nihal uses this fury and her iron will to bulldoze her way through training and into battle. When a mentor challenges her to leave her hate behind before entering the battlefield again, Nihal begins a new and unexpected journey, seeking life apart from her warrior identity. She must discover how to allow peace to transform her before she can return to war.
At first glance this story might seem like an echo of Christopher Paolini’s popular novel Eragon, but in fact it’s not. Though her dragon is a significant character, he appears for only a short part of the story, and it is not the instant bond one might expect it to be. Instead the relationship teaches Nihal about patience and compassion and that her strength of will alone won’t get her everything she wants.
Nihal is young and often focused on one goal to the exclusion of all else. Her friend Sennar sees her more clearly than she sees herself. Though their lives take them in very different directions, their closeness remains and even hints at possible romance (Troisi leaves readers in eager anticipation for a second book to explore this more fully.) Though there are some battle sequences, details are few and the story focuses more on Nihal’s journey to become a warrior, not only in training, but in heart as well. Readers who enjoy fantasy with emphasis on character development and relationships will enjoy this story.
Brief references to the lore and deities of the fantasy realm in which the story takes place.
Nihal goes into battle several times. No gory descriptions of battle wounds or death.