This is one of those novels that takes the reader back into the dark ages -- the 8th century in the Celtic Tradition, when power and land were the commodities that occupied the efforts of the aristocracy, and survival was the watch word of the masses. It is a time of treachery and negotiation, brash, seemingly uncaring, loveless, and fraught with fear. Blood flowed easily and freely, and physical strength was more necessary on the battlefield than during most historical periods. The underlying emotions of revenge and betrayal seem to color this novel from the first. But that was the way of it in these times.
Striving to find an opportunity to kill the man she believes murdered her older brother, Princess Elwytha offers herself as the bride of her Clan's sworn enemy. She and her living brother have hatched a scheme to overthrow their enemy's kingdom as well as accomplish their vengeful goal, but in the process she is slated to become the bride of the Prince's general, almost always referred to as "The Commander" rather than by his given name of Gilead. He is a large, gruff man who has been been badly injured and scarred, but is surprisingly gentle with the Princess, even though she is haughty, insulting, and accusing him of being her brother's murderer. Over time she begins to regret her plan to betray him and to ultimately participate in her brother's treacherous plan. She would be totally surprised if she knew that he had fallen in love with her at first sight.
There is passion and color, suspense and betrayal, friendship and loyalty, love and hate all wrapped up in this tale set in the Dark Ages. Green is a very accomplished writer and her knowledge of this time is evident on every page. Not only does the reader become involved in the story, but this is one of those books that teaches as much history as it delights with the spinning of a romantic story. The characters are well-developed and the plot moves forward steadily -- no hang-ups or delays as the story procedes toward the surprising ending. This is a really, really good book, and if you like romance in the context of ancient history, you will find lots to like in this book. I give it a 4.5 out of 5 rating.