“You are invited to enter Ar’rothi, a world as vividly realized as Narnia or Middle Earth, a world where animal spirits guide humans towards enlightenment, and in which an orphaned girl and a warrior duchess must join forces against an evil that threatens everything they have learned to love.
…Stormy clouds of war are moving against Anacafria on two fronts; the Tevaiedin, the dark spirits of the Seven Realms, and Desdamea, the cruel and grasping queen of the neighboring country of Organdy, are both gathering their forces in a bid to dominate and destroy the kingdom. The Duchess finds her loyalties divided between her adopted daughter, who is the only one who can lead a defense against the Tevaiedin and her king, who needs her skills as a warrior and as one of the commanders of his elite troops.”
Alison Naomi Holt grew up on a working cattle ranch in Arizona where she inherited her greatest passion, the love of animals, from her grandmother. After earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in writing at the University of Arizona she joined the police force where she worked every possible job that became available, changing assignments every few years just because she could. She has been a patrol officer, a detective, a hostage negotiator, commanded Undercover Units and Riot Control Squads, and became the Sergeant/Supervisor for the 11 man K9 squad. Ms. Holt hopes to share her passions and experiences through her writing. Learn more about her other stories at her website or follow her on Facebook.
It has been about two and half years since I read Spirit Child, so I was a little concerned about picking up Duchess Rising cold, without at least skimming the last half of the first book. However, I didn’t. Partly because I wanted to know how long it takes me to get back into a story that I haven’t thought about for a long period of time. Yeah, occasionally I would see Spirit Child’s book cover, which I love, and I would remember I really liked that story. I think it speaks a lot to the author’s talent if I don’t need an in-depth recap to get back into their fantasy world. Ms. Holt’s must have really impressed me because I didn’t have any trouble getting back in tune with the story. Some names may have escaped my memory but the author has a glossary of names and terms at the end of the book.
The way this story starts, drops the reader right in the midst of the action as Kaiti stalks up on King Leopold, in the midst of camp, to test the guards’ readiness for an assassination attempt. King Leopold and Commander Jathez become fully developed characters as the plot progresses. As well as several other secondary characters that I suspect will play major parts as this series continues. The author does an extraordinary job with her Spirit Guides as well. Each has their own personality and can be very outspoken. It’s a good thing the King has not become enlightened enough to hear or see them yet. I am a little surprised that Kaiti has not started picking up some of the language spoken by Bree so far. And Bree doesn’t seem to be making an effort to learn Kaiti’s language either. I would think since Prince Darius and Kaiti are the same age they would try harder to communicate as well.
King Leopold and his imperial guard are on their trek back to King’s City after gathering fighting troops from the outer lying dioceses of the kingdom to prepare for war. He also would like to enlist the Natives from the Shona tribe for assistance as well as repair diplomatic relations between their nations that had been destroyed through one of his dioceses warring. There are several plot twists as treachery, and treasonous acts erupt within camp when the Tevaiedin, the dark spirits, find black hearts to latch onto within some of the troops in camp at a very bad time. The conclusion comes to a somewhat satisfying end, however, with a nefarious note. I am anxious to see what will happen now, I hope it doesn’t take another two years to find out. I am a bit disappointed they all didn’t make it back to Kings City before the story ended.
“Duchess Rising is the second book in a powerful and moving fantasy series by Alison Naomi Holt that will appeal to fans of Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey — one that blends the lyrical and mystical with pulse-pounding action.”
I would also recommend reading Spirit Child first before reading book 2. I should also mention there is a short sexy scene between Healer Becca and her lover Nashotah, a female Shona healer.
Original review posted February 18, 2016
I found no significant issues with proofing or formatting.
Rating: ***** Five Stars
Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words