I got off on the wrong foot with this one. The first thing that happens is that a man tries to steal the heroine’s horse. Being telepathic, the horse warns her about this, but then goes on to say of the thief, “Oh, my, Caz, he’s a handsome devil!” This strikes me as odd in so many ways. No, not the telepathic horse, actually – this is fantasy, after all – but the idea that a horse would have any concept of what would constitute a handsome man. And then there’s a bantering exchange between the two humans, with enough comments about firm mouths and bold eyes to scream ROMANCE! And within a handful of chapters, our feisty heroine has needed to be rescued three times – from beasties, getting lost and randy men. So not a great start.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get better. There’s nothing I like more than a spirited female protagonist, but although Caz certainly has spirit, she also has a quite unbelievable amount of luck. Having followed her brother in order to join up with the rebel army, and fortuitously gained valuable information about enemy movements, she is immediately allowed to see the army’s Commander in person. He takes her under his wing and gives her a job amongst his closest confidantes (with her own little tent next door to his – how sweet), helpfully explaining plotpoints to her and taking the time to reassure her when she gets nervous. Is this likely? The leader of an army heading into battle? I don’t think so.
Then there’s the magic. The army has a mage with it, and boy can he do some amazing stuff. Really, why do they need the army at all, when it seems the mage is powerful enough to take on the enemy all by himself. Now, it may be that things improve as the book goes on. Maybe people stop being improbably nice to Caz, maybe the mage turns out to have limitations, maybe Caz stops sniping pointlessly at the Designated Love Interest, maybe something actually happens, who knows. I loved the idea of animal telepathy, but the rest of it wasn’t for me. For those who like their fantasy rather gentle, with a soft centre, this might be right up your alley, but I gave up on it. One star for a DNF.