Ben Alderson's dark fantasy series opens with this heart pounding book, as Max a lowly servant hides in one of his favourite places; the library, but is discovered by Prince Julian. Julian had always treated Max cruelly but on this occasion having chased him into the forest, Julian fights back. Unknown to him as he reaches for a branch on the forest floor, he is in the exact spot where the Heart Oak once stood, the tree from which mages took their wands, a tree long since cut down. However Max strikes Julian down not knowing his own strength. With the heir dead he can think only of running until the King discovers what he has done and forces him to pose as his heir, renaming him Julian and holding his parents hostage.
Max feels utterly trapped forced to carry out the wishes of a man he hates, he must come to terms with his newly discovered powers and the reality that he is a mage. Forced into marriage by King Gathrax, he fears he can trust no-one, not even the spy Simion brother of his childhood friend.
With dragons, magic and passion this is a fantasy that moves at a whip crack pace with twists and turns galore and a hero you will root for. Perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas, Freya Marske and Grace Draven.
Thank you to Second Sky Books for the review copy. Ben Alderson is writer to watch.