Trial of Ice: Stephen H. King
Hoping to become the next elf queen, Crown Princess Alyssa must take on the many trials and tests required before taking the thrown. With an entourage of bodyguards along with her father going the first leg of the way, she must hope to win the approval of Bennaeth Padrig’s vote or not be allowed to take on the thrown. Seph is her one steadfast and loyal cousin, the deadly and handsome Prince Keion along with her person bodyguard Aerona she hopes to gain the trust needed to become the next elf queen. Alyssa has much to learn as she and her guards along with Prince Keion travel to meet Padrig and will find that her quest is often met with resistance, fear, hate and even discord by some of those living in many of the kingdoms she will rule. Wearing the powerful relic Dragnerthol, and told not to use it for nay reason she might find herself having to find the ability and strength to fight off many that are against her and learn the true meaning of her role. But, there are many who would rather destroy her and her entourage and when completing her training and stay with Padrig she enlists the aid of her group to find Padrig’s son who has gone missing but at the end an avalanche takes the life of one of her guards leaving Alyssa at a total loss. Many prophecies come to light and there is even one for her as she is about to become the Dragon Queen and with the same strength of her father she hopes that she can succeed but she is young, naïve at times and has shown great strength and made great strides yet Prince Charming as she calls Keion is only there because he promised to protect her and every step of the way seems to be sarcastic, cunning and never really gives her the credit she has coming. For some reason he resents her and the fact that he has to be part of her detail. What is her birthright and will she succeed?
The journey takes the group to many places and although at times they appear congenial they often bicker, verbally fight and deal with the different climates and weather that often affects their moods and travel. Meeting Cai the traveler was interesting as he led them through many places then to where he resides but the conflicts that follow within his home and after will alert readers as it does Alyssa that something evil is coming as her necklace starts to feel hot as if it is reacting to where she is but why? Things go haywire with Keion as he does not always take everything that is said with a grain of salt and at times gets insulted as do the others. Sharing guard duty since the death of one of their guards became difficult and the soon to be queen even takes her turn.
Something is brewing and will threaten Padrig as someone wants him out of the way and hopefully with the help of Alyssa, Keiron and her guards they can stop what someone has already put into place as war is in the future and there is no way out of it. Listening the Llew, Padrig’s son explain why he disappeared, why he had to use the ruse of being upset about her rejection, he explained that he knows that someone wants his father out of the way and all four bens might be in danger too. A story about loyalties, friendships, trust, betrayals, power and greed.
This story takes place in two separate worlds on earth and in the world of elves that is filled with the same discord, wars and strife as in our world. As Alyssa misses the internet, texting and living in our world what will happen if and when she takes over as Dragon Queen? Alyssa has to deal with the four bens and a cult that is bent on destroying all the good that her father has achieved. Getting Padrig to approve her would not be that easy and learning how each of the other bens wanted wars to take over and push him out created a conflict in her mind.
Talking about the Cult of Wyrm who are the group who attacked when she first arrived and they also tried to poison Alyssa and tow others at the Library of Alecsanddra. They are convinced she is the prophesied Dragon Queen. Not that this mattered but she managed to anger them and did not seem to care whether they proved the prophesy or not.
The four bens and they according to Padrig would lead the charge or the war against the other three. After talking about the plan Llew asked who they can trust and the answer shocked Alyssa as she did not trust this person even though he is Padrig’s trusted adviser. But why?
As Seph and her guard Booboo darted out first, the Keion and her personal guard Aerona she came last. Sarah the Battle Savant was in the middle arrayed across the room with the group of them from Cysegredig each one finding their right position. The black robed Cult members were there along with the four treasonous bens. The bens were not going after Padrig, the four clan leaders were snarling just inside the entrance and in the front stood Iolyn. Ben of the Pobl’yrhew knew as he ruled over the ice fields in the north. The plan unfolded the war began and the four bens plan was not accepted by everyone and Padrig’s guard force and the five of them and others were in grave danger.
Rules were made to be followed and Alyssa is young but can she prove herself and become the Dragon Queen?
The ending is just the beginning as her path is going to be riddled with obstacles, difficult and that both her father and Padrig the most powerful men in the realm stand by her but will their armies fight in her defense? The Dragignerthol is her safety net but to win the war she needed both him and her father and the support of many others. Will she prevail and what about the cult? Treachery, deceit, betrayals and a heartfelt letter that will reveal a startling truth that will change it all for Alyssa. An ending that is just the beginning as her reign has yet to begin and reigning queen focuses on what is to be expected of her, what she will endure and what happens when she takes over. Why does she end with these words: I am not a child, nor am I a simpleton to need the same lecture more than once. I am well aware of the danger to our society of someone using magic simply to further their own needs. So how does she manage to take down sorcerous belonging to a cult. Is she capable of running the kingdom? Why did someone tell he she lit up the northern sky, when in reality it was the Aurora Borealis. Why is she guilty of glowing and why would she want to deny it?
A final talk with the High Priestess Naisea reveals something about her father and this High Priestess that she never knew. What happens when she relates her meeting to her father and what does the High Priestess tell her about how the next one is chosen? What was the threat she spoke before Alyssa left her and how did this affect her father and how would it affect her as the look that she gave her was not one of kindness but hat spoke danger?
Author Stephen H. King brings to light what happens when a young girl follows her calling, has to rely on the skills, loyalties and trust of others when she finally comes to the final leg of her Trial of Ice. With Sternyface who knew about her magic and was not her very best ally or friend and who looked to put her down and criticize her at every turn speaking with Talatih the present queen, telling her about rebuffing Llew, the magic, her trek through the snowy mountain pass and the journey back to Ganolog and her defense of Padrig what was left was her feelings about someone that was about to change. The final words of Talaith will explain slaves who takes them and hot so much why as a matter of permanent ownership which Alyssa disagrees with but will she change it ? What was the final promise she had to make to Talaith and would she honor it? A ending that is just her beginning and will she survive and what is next for Alyssa and will there be more trials and tests before she takes her throne? With Volume three in the works who knows what is next for Alyssa and who will take the throne along side of her? This story will keep glued to the printed page until you learn the final fate of her journey.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine