My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Cornerstone, the first book in the Souls of the Stones series, was quite enjoyable. We follow the story of Emariya (Riya), a noble woman who discovers that she holds the powers of one of the three Ancient Stones. The people of Warren’s Rest (her home) are in need of aid from neighbouring Thalmas, to defend the two areas from the Sheas. A marriage between Riya and Prince Ahlen, ruler of Thalmas, is proposed. Despite Riya never having met the Prince, and knowing nothing about his motives for wanting the marriage, she discovers that the only way she might be able to rescue her imprisoned father is by marrying Prince Ahlen, and receiving his help.
Emariya’s journey to Thalmas then unfolds, and on her way she discovers more of her own history (the fate of her mother, who died when she was only a year old) and that of the Stones, and their powers.
The journey was, at times, a bit slow-moving for me. Riya is accompanied by Garith – the old friend who also happens to suffer from unrequited love for her, her handmaiden Jessa, and her escort/guard Khane almong others. Garith was a bit cloying at times, with his unchanging attitude of love for Riya. Jessa wasn’t extremely well-developed, just a fairly expected sidekick character. Khane’s character is mysterious, and that’s all I’ll give away.
What I enjoyed most about this story was the last third. Once Riya meets Torian (the Prince), they have an interesting chemistry. At first I was like- cringe- because they seemed to have this instant connection after
only one day
that is often written, but not usually believable. But this book had an interesting explanation for this behaviour, which causes their relationship to become much more interesting (at least, it did to me!).
I liked the twists in some of the characters’ motivation throughout the story. A few chapters are told from the perspective of an ambiguous character- we may assume initially that we know who’s responsible for Riya’s fate, but as the story unfolds many things get revealed and all is not as it seemed.
Riya herself was an enjoyable narrator. Feisty enough that she doesn’t just sit back and let everything happen to her, but realistic enough that she’s not swordfighting off her captors left and right (though there is a place for that kind of gal!) I’m interested to read more about her learning to control her powers.
The end was great; it was the best part of the book- particularly when we learn something about Riya’s father. I also appreciate that it doesn’t end with everything neatly tied, as it makes me all the more interested to continue the series.
(I’m reading the Omnibus edition –Souls of the Stones Omnibus– but will be posting my reviews for each book separately)