This is a frustrating read. Like other reviewers before me, I wonder why the story is being told in two different books. This one feels like an introduction and not much more. The world building is good (though it feels too much like Harry Potter meets GoT, I was having plenty of déjà vu feelings) and so is the writing, but I kept waiting for the real story to begin.
When we first meet Aeryn, she’s a child, living in a tiny village in the Ice Crown region, in the north of the kingdom. The villagers are not used to visitors and when a mage comes by unexpectedly, Aeryn is fascinated. We meet her again at fifteen, when she discovers she has magic. She trains as best she can to control the fire and bolts her body produces, not sure she can (nor is willing to) get proper training as a mage at university. Then she’s taken away from her family by soldiers of the King’s Regiment and brought to said university by a Hagrid-like knight. She makes friends there and learns that the world is not always as it seems. Also, there’s a war happening in the south of the kingdom and it all sounds very ominous. It also explains why Aeryn is being trained, as obviously war mages are needed to win and / or stop the war.
The first part ends on some sort of cliffhanger which is not a real surprise to the reader, even if it is to Aeryn.
As annoying as it felt to be stopped right when the story gets interesting, I’m looking forward to reading the second part, to find out what happens to Aeryn, whether she grows up to become a war mage and if the fledgling romance with Lyse gets anywhere. It’s announced for November, so not too long to wait.