Title: The Mark of the Tala
Author: Jeffe Kennedy
Series: The Twelve Kingdoms Trilogy (Book #1)
Publication Date: May 27, 2014
Format: Paperback, 352 Pages
ISBN-10: 0758294433 (Kensington)
ISBN-13: 978-0758294432 (Kensington)
Reviewed by: Kristie
Queen Of The Unknown
The tales tell of three sisters, daughters of the high king. The eldest, a valiant warrior-woman, heir to the kingdom. The youngest, the sweet beauty with her Prince Charming. No one says much about the middle princess, Andromeda. Andi, the other one.
Andi doesn’t mind being invisible. She enjoys the company of her horse more than court, and she has a way of blending into the shadows. Until the day she meets a strange man riding, who keeps company with wolves and ravens, who rules a land of shapeshifters and demons. A country she’d thought was no more than legend–until he claims her as its queen.
In a moment everything changes: Her father, the wise king, becomes a warlord, suspicious and strategic. Whispers call her dead mother a traitor and a witch. Andi doesn’t know if her own instincts can be trusted, as visions appear to her and her body begins to rebel.
For Andi, the time to learn her true nature has come. . .
Quick & Dirty: A high fantasy with engaging characters, a destiny that doesn’t seem as dark as first believed and a steamy but complicated romance.
Opening Sentence: My version of the story goes all the way back to the once upon a time with the three princesses, each more beautiful than the last.
The Mark of the Tala is a high fantasy novel that masquerades as a romance. My assumption that this was just a straight up romance was wrong. There is a bit of romance with some sexy, steamy detailed love scenes. This series is about three sisters who happen to be princesses. They each have their own stories that they have to learn. I have a feeling that this series will be the trials and tribulations that all of the sisters go through in order to save themselves and their kingdoms.
The Mark of the Tala is the first novel in the series and it begins with the middle sister, Andromeda. She has always felt invisible next to her sisters. Everyone has always gushed over the other two, Ursula with her warrior pride and Amelia with her beauty. Andromeda has never had a thing for politics. She left that to her sisters as she would spend her free time with her horse riding around the countryside or grooming her. It just so happens that on one of her rides leads her to a destiny she didn’t even know she had, let alone know that she even wanted.
Andromeda isn’t aware of her past or the legacy that her mother left to her. She knows nothing of the kingdom of Annfwn or the Tala. The Tala are a magical people with the skills of shapeshifting among their gifts. Andromeda has the strongest pull of the Tala among her sisters and is meant to lead Annfwn as their queen.
The dark and mysterious Rayfe is the one who opens up Andromeda’s eyes to her destiny. He needs her in order to save Annfwn and he will do whatever he has to in order to get her. He is strangely gentle and compassionate with her, even though he is waging war to get her hand in marriage.
Andromeda was such a strong woman whether she knows it or not. She was so comfortable in her invisibility that when the attention turned completely towards her she was quite uncomfortable. She wanted to run and hide, which sadly is what her family tried to make her do, but she didn’t want a war if it meant that she stay in hiding. She was willing to sacrifice her happiness. She was even willing never to see her sisters again if it meant that no one else would die over her. Instead of constantly fretting over her latent powers she fights for a way to figure out how to come into her own.
This novel was told entirely through Andromeda’s first person point of view. I connected to her personality and understood her reasoning. I also loved the conversations between the characters. Jeffe Kennedy’s writing immediately sold me on the story and I never once felt lost in the storytelling. (Side note: I tried to read the 3rd novel first since I was given it for review and was completely lost as to what was going on. I picked up the first two novels because I wanted to find out what happened from the beginning.)
I was instantly drawn into The Mark of the Tala. I had no problems with learning about this world and how everyone fit into it. I really found myself looking forward to the next time Andromeda would meet Rayfe on the page. That being said, I did find that the novel moved slowly at times before rushing to the ending. The Mark of the Tala does have an ending but it is set up for the next novel, The Tears of the Rose, which I am very much looking forward to reading.
“You are all I want. Annfwn needs you. Everything else is secondary, at best.”
“You keep saying that. Why does Annfwn need me?” I ground out.
“That is an old and complicated story. Trust that we do. And that I admire your desire to save the lives of my people.”
“My people, too,” I shot back.
“In truth, they are all your people, aren’t they?” He fingered my braid where it hung over the cloak. “Put the dagger away, my part-blood.”
“That’s an ugly thing to call me.” I shot a glance up into his shadowed face.
“I don’t mean it as such.”
I didn’t know what to say in reply, so I stared at the center of his chest, the blade gleaming silver against his dark vest.
“Why are you willing to come to me, if I frighten you so?” he finally asked, in a surprisingly gentle voice.
“I already told you. I explained it all in that letter.” Except the part about the strange changes in me. I superstitiously hadn’t want to put that into words.
“Only because you feel trapped into this course of action, then?”
“You are the one who accused me of indulging in inaction. What other reason could I have?”
The Twelve Kingdoms Trilogy:
FTC Advisory: I purchased my own copy of The Mark of the Tala. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.