Orphaned as a baby because of her mother, Queen Katherine Parr's, imprudent marriage, Mary Seymour believes that romantic love clouds even the strongest woman's ability to reason. Therefore, she vows never to fall in love, and under no circumstances will she marry. Lady Strange, her mysterious new guardian, offers the young woman an extraordinary alternative to marriage: Mary is to become a white magician who will join Queen Elizabeth's court and ensure the success of the Virgin Queen's reigh.
Accompanied by her magical hound, Persus, Mary sets out to learn the properties of different stones and the art and precision of natural spells. Soon after her sixteenth birthday, she is invited to join Elizabeth's court as a lady-in-waiting. Upon her arrival, Mary is met with a welcome worthy of her highly regarded mother. Nevertheless, the more favor Mary is shown by the queen, the more she inspires the jealousy and ill will of the men and women who are vying for power. The most dangerous of all is Edmund Seymour, Mary's disturbingly handsome cousin. From the moments she meets Edmund, Mary has to fight her growing attraction, especially once she discovers that he is a black magician, the dark mirror of her own self. But, despite the threat Edmund poses to Mary, he seems to be the only on who truly understands her. When Edmund become involved in a plot against the queen, Mary find her beliefs tested in ways she never could have imagined.
This novel interested me because it involves one of my absolute favourite time periods. The main character was very like-able but I find her character development is more stated than shown. She grows in years and power, and her beliefs are challenged, but by the ending you feel that these things have happened to her rather than changed or grown. You see these changes more because she says so than because she unconsciously moved forward in values and life. I liked that the magic involved had more of a wicca take than a wand take - it just seemed to fit better. The prose was easily accessible (obviously for the teenager), but a little too childish for my taste. Although I did like the description of auras and stones, it felt a little contrived. Trying to match historical figures to a specific meaning seemed a little forced - its obvious we already know what type of reputation they had, so matching a stone to a personality was a little overdone. The end of the book was another reason why I felt this character didn't seem mature - she doesn't seem to feel heartbroken and really all that upset at all at how events turned out. The ending was very open ended, but there doesn't appear to be a sequel on the horizon, which was a bit frustrating. A couple of scenes were a bit confusing, but this could be because I have the unedited version.
I enjoyed the book because of the time period and the magic was interesting - but everything just seemed a little bit forced.
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