To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I totally loved this book! I have only read a handful of high fantasy and almost all of them have been in the last year or so. The reason I have not been able to read high fantasy before is that I had an aversion to author-developed worlds, hence my preference for urban fantasy which is also not something I have always read. Previous to my introduction to urban fantasies I was strictly mysteries and thrillers and that period was the longest for me in my reading history. I have to see something in the book synopsis that leads me to believe that a book will draw me into its world. I kept seeing great reviews for To Play the Lady. I eventually downloaded the sample and knew I would enjoy it.
Jenna is a girl that you care about from the moment you see that she and her brother Peter are different from all of the other teenagers coming to court. The other girls studying with the Queen as her ladies are all nobles as are the boys training to be knights like Peter. Peter seems to not have as difficult a time with his peers as Jenna has with some of the older girls. Not only is she not a noble, but, she comes from a wealthy family, is darker skinned and comes from a dessert area. In addition, she continuously stands out for her many talents despite her age and there is nothing meaner than a teenage girl so Jenna has to overcome a lot of petty jealousies as well. She stands out even from her brother who is also very talented.
One of the great things about To Play the Lady is that Jenna is learning about herself at the same time as we are learning about her gifts and about some of her family's history. It serves as a bit of intrigue because as much as she and Peter try to keep their family's secrets the more things happen to expose them. Another great thing about this story is how Jenna's gifts are discovered. She doesn't magically have a bunch of gifts and suddenly knows how to use them. She grows in every way in this book including her magical gifts. She has some talents that she has trained in as a child might when their parents invest in piano lessons or gymnastics lessons or the myriad of other things my parents invested in for me as a child to help me develop as a well-rounded individual. Jenna did not spring up perfect with a ton of friends with no problems. This story shows how kids, even in medieval times, are subjected to prejudices and abuse. It demonstrates how they can persevere when they have the right tools and support. The princes, Sebastian, Eamon and Dominic all have very different personalities but, they have friendship between them just as the love and friendship is very apparent between Jenna and Peter. I think there are several mysteries with other relationships at court waiting to be exposed.
There are twists and turns everywhere you look in this book. There is a bad guy who we can all see and something else in the works on that front along with the many machinations and politics of court life. I was not finished reading the book before I was researching more about the author and hoping that there were more books on the horizon. I cannot compare it to other fantasy books and even if I had read more than a handful I prefer to take it on its own merits and this book is great, with good character development, good world building, and a great story. I look forward to the next installment!
Review can also be seen at http://ladytechiesbookmusings.blogspot.c...