Valor of the Healer (Rebels of Adalonia #1) by Angela Highland – 4 stars
An assassin hired by vengeful elven rebels to kill the calculating Duke of Shalridan, Julian walks into a trap and barely escapes with his life. Healed by a beautiful captive in the dungeons, he’s enthralled and vows to free her from the duke’s clutches.
A Knight of the Hawk duty-bound to cleanse elven magic from Adalonia, Kestar has a secret—and heretical—ability to sense the use of magic from afar. He knows something suspicious is happening in the duke’s keep, but he has no idea how deep the conspiracy goes.
A half-elven healer with no control over her magic, Faanshi is the goddess’s to command. She’s always been a pawn of the powerful, but after healing two mysterious and very different men, she faces a choice that may decide the fate of the whole kingdom…
This book has great characters and a solid plot. It’s the first of a trilogy and focuses on the Healer. She begins meek and grows into full personhood with a deft, natural progression of character development. The assassin and soldier have less growth, which isn’t surprising given that each man has his own book in the trilogy.
I found Faanshi’s portrayal to be subtle and striking, and entirely believable. Julian struck me also a very real person. Kestar seemed to be the weak link among the trio, though he’s in the background for most of this part of the story and I suspect he’ll shine in the final book, Victory of the Hawk.
None of the secondary characters were scene-stealers or left a significant impression. I did sometimes find myself wishing Celoren could have had more POV time. The various elven and horse names got to be a little much to juggle towards the end.
While I did like this book, it didn’t grab me by the neck and demand I read it. It’s still good, solid traditional fantasy, and I recommend it for folks who enjoy that genre.