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I decided to read this book not only because the author is a friend of mine, but also because this series has been causing quite a buzz among the younger readers in my country. So far, this book is only available in Portuguese.
Neferlöen is the teenage adoptive daughter of the King of Levionda, one of the twelve (bordering on thirteen) kingdoms that make up the Lands of Corza. The book follows her life as she challenges her place in society and, through a series of special events, ascends to a post of power usually only reserved to men. This is not without its difficulties, however, since she is still very young and must fight against prejudice and those who are jealous of her considerable gifts. Her country is involved in a bloody war against a mysterious opponent, and she swears to dedicate her life to ending the conflict.
The characters were easily the strongest point in this novel. Even when they were acting in ways that would be unthinkable, they made sense within the stories' parameters and society. The plot was also good, albeit a bit predictable at times. However, this book was written when Madalena was fifteen years-old, and it shows. Even if she demonstrated, even at that age, a good ability to weave a plot and develop characters and settings, her writing betrays her young age. It gets better as the story progresses, which makes me think the other books in the series will probably be better, though. Still, it made getting into the story a bit difficult, at first.
Also, I have to mention one thing that has nothing to do with book per se: the blurb in the back cover is terrible (at least on the edition I read). It actually says how the book will end! Why someone would do this is beyond me.
This is still a good book and I enjoyed reading it. I recommend it to people who are usually afraid of reading Portuguese books from young authors.