It began with a theft. The theft of a boy.
Or, perhaps more accurately, the theft of a boy’s life and future. Young orphan Kel could never have expected a grand life in the vibrant port city of Castellane if fate had not intervened, but fate did. At the tender age of 8, he is removed from his orphanage and offered a unique position: to become Sword Catcher to Conor, Prince of Castellane and heir to its throne. Kel will be raised in luxury in the palace alongside Conor, trained and educated as befits a royal, and given every advantage in life–with one notable exception: His life will never be his own again. Bespelled to resemble Conor, Kel essentially becomes Conor for any occasions where the prince might be in danger, or at which he would rather not put in an appearance. He is Conor’s double, his shadow self, tied forever to a person he both loves and resents–and from whom he might never be free.
Eleven years on, tensions are growing–both personal and political. Conflicts with the neighboring countries are high, and Conor’s betrothal might be the only thing to calm the waters–an idea that Conor is furious about. And Kel is starting to chafe under the restrictions of his position, realizing as he grows how very many of the things he wants–like love and stability and a place to call his own–are simply not possible. But it is not until Kel catches an assassin’s arrow meant for Conor that things really begin to escalate, for it is then that he meets Lin–a young healer and a member of the only people still to hold a trace of magic. An outcast of society like him, Lin has her own ambitions and desires, and this fateful meeting is about to set a chain of events into motion that could alter the very fabric of both of their worlds.
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“You came with the prince, didn’t you? Monseigneur Conor Aurelian?”
“I am his cousin,” lied Kel.
“Do you like him?”
Kel was silent. To even ask such a question was treason. One did not like or not like the King, or the Crown Prince. They simply were, like the Maquis, like the dark-jade canals of the Temple Quarter, like Queensfall itself. It was like asking if one liked the gods.
“I saw my sister coming up the stairs with him and the others,” said Merryn. “House Aurelian. One cannot say no to them, can one?”
“I never have,” Kel said, feeling suddenly weary. It had been a long day, too long; he felt drained to the bone. “Maybe in play or jest, with Conor, or Bram, but not in any seriousness. No.” To his own horror, his voice shook. A sword–catcher does not show weakness. A sword–catcher is the strength of the Prince, his shield and armor.