I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. The dueling narratives between Sepora and Tarik was really effective in telling a story of two people from rival nations and differing view points but ultimately want the same thing. The conflicts often arise through misconceptions they have each other but also of each others nations. They both of grown up thinking the other’s nation as the enemy, even though they have lived in a time of relative peace. It also illustrates the dynamic of power and how quickly it can change. Sepora is a Princess and the only forger. She can create a rare metal, spectorium. Spectorium can be used to build, power and potentially heal. Sepora’s nation of Serubel, was thought to be the only nation that had it and was it’s biggest export but the world didn’t know that it was produced by one person. When Sepora’s father wants her to forge more of it so make weapons she escapes to the neighboring nation of Theoria because who would think she would go to enemy territory. Unfortunately, she gets captured and later sold into the new King of Theoria’s harem. She doesn’t stay there long as she annoys enough people to leave the harem and works her away as one of Tarik’s advisor’s. Her knowledge of Serubel is obviously an asset to Tarik but how much can she tell him without betraying her own country. While she works to try to prevent war, he works to protect his own people. Another complication is that Theoria is also dealing with a pandemic that is quickly spreading. (yeah, this was little to close to home) and wouldn’t you know it spectorium is potential cure of for it. So it’s a back and forth between the two of them as they try to trust each other but find it hard because of internal bias’ but also their goals are different. They do want to the same thing to prevent war but going about it differently. Tarik is after all the King of his nation. He has to think about the safety of his people so of course he is going to look at ways to protect his people while also looking into ways to stop war. Sepora bristles anytime Tarik even talks about defensive measures even though they are responsible responses. Like so many conflicts, if they were honest with each other they could resolved so many issues but honesty you need trust and it’s hard to trust something or someone you have taught not to. So yeah, I liked this book and I look forward to reading the sequel.