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Review of Exile (The Caein Legacy #1)

Blurb: Andrew grew up in the royal palace of Novania, the eldest son of the queen. He went on to achieve fame and glory as a renowned soldier, and was eventually named commander of the king’s army. The kingdom believed he would be named heir to the throne, but he has long known he is ineligible. The king is not his father.

The truth of Andrew’s lineage is only partially known to the king; the identity of his father is a mystery that even Andrew is unaware of. He knows only that his father was a dragon-mage, and the dragons have fled to another world. Andrew is a skin-changer, but the laws of Novania forbid his very existence. If the king were to learn the truth of what he is, he would face execution.

The laws are equally hostile to humans born with the Mark of the Magi and the ability to wield magic. Andrew’s younger half-brother, Alexander, bears the Mark. The pair keep one another’s secrets into adulthood… Until the king dies unexpectedly and Colin ascends the throne.

When Alexander’s Mark is revealed for all to see, Andrew is faced with a choice: To watch his brother be killed, or reveal his true nature in an effort to save him from the headsman’s axe.

Review: Andrew is a skilled warrior and commander, and when the kingdom is devastated when they discover he is not the king's biological son, so he cannot inherit the throne. That leaves his spiteful and cruel half-brother Colin to succeed, and when the time comes, he makes life especially hard for Andrew. To top it off, another of Andrew's brothers, Alexander, is found to have the Mark of the Magi, which is a sentence of death in Novania. When Colin plans to have Alexander executed, Andrew must decide to reveal his dragon side to save him and risk losing his own life or hide his true self forever.

This is the first book in the wonderful epic fantasy series, The Caein Legacy. It's told from Andrew's point of view, and he is no young man. This isn't a coming of age trope. It's discovering one's true self later in life when sometimes it's even scarier to accept it. I enjoy tales with older (Andrew's still in his early thirties!) characters as they act with more thought, and it makes what they face all the harder. The story is slow paced like traditional fantasy tales, and much of the beginning is court and family intrigue rather than action. Don't expect big battles. This is more of an emotional journey, and it's the set up for what is to come. Yet this allows the world building and characterization to be phenomenal.

Anything to do with magic is illegal in Novania, and Andrew must flew with his brother to the south where they magi live. Dragons had left this world years ago, and Andrew is the only one left. I'm invested in Andrew's and Alexander's journeys. Each will be very different, but they are irrevocably intertwined. I love the peek into the southlands and want to know more.

You can find A.J. Calvin on her site and buy the book here.

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