The kingdom of Rellizbix has seen almost a thousand years of victory over the wrathful invaders from the Greimere Empire. King Helfrick Caelum, descendant of the first king of Rellizbix, has already seen victory over the invaders twice while wearing the crown and is poised to ensure another successful defense of his lands. Raegith Caelum is the first-born son no one knows of and spends his days locked inside a keep, away from the public and out of trouble. When he is approached by his royal father to finally leave the keep and embark on a small, safe adventure, the boy jumps at the opportunity. His small adventure: to travel with a group of soldiers beyond the Hell Cliffs, the dividing line between Rellizbix and Greimere, and initiate the next war. Simple, covert and a long-standing tradition, it was Raegith's chance to earn his freedom while serving the kingdom. When the mission goes awry, the half-blood prince finds himself alone in the heart of his people's greatest enemy. But as Raegith survives behind enemy lines and learns the horrible truth of the continual wars that plague his land, his journey becomes less about returning home and more about creating a new one.
It took me awhile to get into this book. It was a slow start for me. At first, I found the main character, Raegith, to be irritating and juvenile. Which, in a way, makes sense because he is a teenage boy who has spent much of his life locked away from the world. Still, I didn't like him most of the time. But the reason why he was taken from his solitude and sent on a mission to an enemy land intrigued me. And the story wasn't terrible, it simply rang sort of flat with me.
But I stuck it out for what I expected to be a three star read. However, things gradually improved, especially after Raegith crossed over the Hell Cliffs, until by the end I had to bump it to a four star.
Through hardship and deprivation, Raegith is transformed from an inexperienced and smart mouthed kid, to a man who can survive anything the world throws at him. I don't know as I ever grew to actually like him, but rather to respect his fierce determination to survive and to be somewhat in awe of his incredible fighting skills.
For me, this is a sort of tragic story. Everything comes about because of greed, both for material possessions and for power. Deception and blind intolerance, cruelty and misunderstandings, drive the narrative forward and a lot of good people die because of it.
This is an intense book. A book some people might find to be an uncomfortable read. But if you enjoy dark fantasy and a main character who is as much villain as he is hero, then you should definitely give this one a try.