"Theatana's palms were damp with suppressed excitement. She folded her arms, and with her fingertips stroked the brocading of her cloth-of-silver sleeves. Below the window where she stood, the small paved rectangle of the Penitential Yard lay cold and gray in the dawn. The courtyard was deep in the oldest part of the Numera, next to the prison beneath the Bucelon Ravelin, and in the courtyard's center stood a double gallows."
A horde of barbarians are invading The Ascendancy, an ages old kingdom ruled by Archates, an incompetent fool. His daughter Theatana is a power hungry wacko and Erkai the Chain, an evil sorcerer has just returned from the dead. Mandine Dascaris, Archates' other daughter and heir to the throne, must deal with all three. Only the Signata, a long lost magic that will help her defeat her enemies but she can't do it alone. With the help of Key Mec Brander, a knight, they will defend the kingdom and preserve The Ascendancy.
I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. I read it last year on the plane and found myself unable to put it down. It's very typical of your straight forward fantasy novel with good versus evil, ancient bloodlines, powerful bad guys and a complex mythology but I was entertained.
Mandine and Key make an interesting pairing. Their relationship slowly evolves throughout the book and is put to the test more than once. Their are also some interesting additions to the fantasy novel mythos such as the cataphract, a horse/cat/bull mix that serve as mounts for the knights of The Ascendancy. Jones does a good job of creating a full world with its own rules and inhabitants. Another positive that I noticed is that Jones is Canadian. Can-Con is always a plus in my book.
My problems with the book stem from the plot and characters. Key's background seemed too cliche in terms of his family history and frankly, I'd read it before in half a dozen books. He and Mandine just happen to get thrown in together and low and behold it was fated they should meet. As for the plot it starts with a punch but the tension starts to dissipate towards the middle. This series has definite potential and was an enjoyable read but the story needs to step it up in terms of tension and originality.