Previously posted 04/27/10 in my meta-review blog.
Shalador’s Lady takes place not long after the events of The Shadow Queen. Cassidy has successfully solved the riddle left behind by Prince Theran’s ancestors, and has at least partially come into her own as a Queen. Despite her successes and having “won the hearts and minds” of most of the males in her First Circle, and her work in helping the Territory’s recovery, the Warlord Prince is still only backing her with great reluctance. (His cousin Gray on the other hand, thinks she rocks like a rocking thing that rocks.)
Despite her successes, Cassidy’s newfound confidence crumbles when Kermilla, the Queen who suborned her Circle arrives. It seems that Kermilla is having money troubles (despite the fact that when Cassidy was the Queen of those villages, they were doing fine financially), and tries to wheedle money out of Cassidy. (This is would be proof positive that Kermilla is an idiot, by the way.) Since it’s fairly obvious that Cassidy hates the girl’s guts, her new Circle is ready to kill Kermilla and company–except for Theran, who decides that Kermilla is absolutely the Queen he was meant for. He decides it would be a great idea to invite Kermilla to stay as his guest–despite the fact that Cassidy kicked Kermilla out of the Territory.
This sends Cassidy into a tailspin of complete misery. (Much to the bafflement of her First Circle. There are some fun moments where they’re just going “…why is this bitch still here, and why isn’t Cassidy fighting back?” One moment that comes to mind is where they are very calmly planning the best way to take out Kermilla and Company.) It comes to a head when Cassidy tries to run away, convinced that everyone in her Circle is going to fall in love with Kermilla, and there is going to be a repeat of the situation that broke her court the last time. She is stopped from leaving by Ranon, one of the Warlord Princes in her Circle–he convinces her to stay at a boarding house on one of the Shalador reserves. Despite being a total failure and retreat, this turns out to be a good thing, since without Theran around to block her every step of the way, Cassidy is actually able to do her job and help the people of Dena Nehele. Meanwhile, Theran has it repeated pointed out to him that he is sort of stupid. (Fortunately, he eventually comes to a realization that yes, he is stupid, so hopefully the next book won’t feature Daemon having a word with him.)
Shalador’s Lady is an entertaining read, though I had a few issues with the way the conflict between Cassidy and Kermilla unfolded. I felt that Cassidy’s reactions and emotional were very much those of a much younger person than she’s supposed to be. (Cassidy was an older, slightly more experienced Queen than Kermilla, which is probably what made Kermilla suborning her court so traumatic. That part is perfectly understandable. The not understandable part is that she’s acting like she’s the same age as Kermilla, who is basically Harmony Kendall ) Other than that, I enjoyed the world building aspects of the story, and the character interactions and development.