Book Review: WITH DAGGER AND SONG by Helen Scheuerer

Title in white on blurred orange
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - book 2

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for A LAIR OF BONES*

Blurb:

Title in white on red-orange image of leaves and weapons and a snake and crown

An empty crown. A perilous journey. Will she answer when darkness calls?

Against all odds, Roh survived the harrowing Queen’s Tournament, but now something far deadlier awaits her: a formidable quest for the three magic birthstones of Saddoriel.

The gems have been scattered across the realms – and only when Roh retrieves them can she take her place as queen. But surrounded by hostile companions and tormented by the dangerous secret she carries, Roh begins to realise that the pursuit of power may prove more destructive than she ever imagined.

Nothing can prepare her for the nightmares that fester in the shadows of Akoris, a fanatical cyren territory, or the twisted games of its cunning leader…

Can Roh win the first birthstone without sacrificing everything she holds dear – and without losing herself?

Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

WITH DAGGER AND SONG sees Roh set off on her quest to find the three stones (my guess is a book a stone, given this is a quartet.) To find the first stone, she must make her way to a city ruled by a despot in the name of religious fanaticism, and contend with him as well as the desire of the ruling council who set her the quest to see her fail.

The heart of the book, though, is Roh’s relationship with her companions. There’s Odi – the human she was paired with in the competition of the first book, who wants his freedom but can’t get it until she’s queen -, Finn – a noble she beat who looks down on her -, Harlyn – the best friend she cheated to get into the competition -, and Yrsa – another highborn she beat. Finn and Harlyn in particular hate Roh, either for personal reasons or because of what she represents, and WITH DAGGER AND SONG is really about Roh trying to build (or re-build) relationships while contending with the secrets that have broken them. This theme is mirrored nicely in the final showdown of the book.

They also gain a new companion, Deodan, a water warlock with secrets and agendas of his own. His involvement helped flesh out other parts of the cyren world, including those who oppose the status quo. The warlocks are a group who have been all but removed form the main city, pushed the the edges and for centuries. And now the survivors are splintering into those who want change by any means – violent or otherwise – and those who want a more peaceful approach. And Roh is key to both sets of machinations. It seems to be setting up a conflict for the end of the series, Roh having to face down not only the ruling council (and the queen she’s defeated because I simply don’t trust her – she’s too kind and helpful!) and these warlocks.

Even though this book very much feels like the first part of three of a quest, the emotional core of the story gives the book enough resolution for a satisfying ending.


Read my reviews of other books by Helen Scheuerer:

Curse of the Cyren Queen (this series):

The Oremere Chronicles (set in the same world):

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