4 out of 4 stars
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After the war that led to great losses on both sides between Valoria and Intellectus, two of the three major kingdoms of Al Kunooz, the royal families of these kingdoms sued for peace and projected to join both families through the marriages of their children while signing a peace treaty in the future. Princess Amber of Intellectus is betrothed to Prince Zain of Valoria, while Zain's sister, Princess Zeina, is engaged to Prince Adam of Intellectus. This is a plan that is so many years in the making to ensure peace between the kingdoms, and as the time for its execution approaches, what could go wrong?
Valoria: Heirdom by Tayma Tameem is a fantasy novel that revolves around these royal families, their histories, the tension between them, and their proposed alliance. The book was a gripping read, as I struggled to put it down, even though it was fairly lengthy. Exploring themes of loyalty, betrayal, family, and love, we follow the intriguing characters that drive the story. The book features a host of strong female characters that readers will fall in love with from the first meeting, from the rebellious Princess Zeina, who wished to be free but understood the significance of her responsibility to her people, and her strong and wise mother, Queen Zainah, to Queen Najma of Intellectus, who, while being suspected for setting up the deaths of key people from Valoria during the war, showed class and brilliance to think ahead on multiple occasions.
The book is slow-paced, as the author gives readers enough time to immerse themselves in the family and political dynamics. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the princes and princesses attempt to understand their significant other, especially with an in-depth focus on Prince Adam and Princess Zeina since they disliked each other initially. Both of them being headstrong presented a problem and meant that they would only be going into marriage out of a sense of duty. Add that to the lack of trust that was in the air between both families, and you can imagine the level of suspense incorporated throughout the story. Excellent character development and the development of their relationship present other things for readers to look forward to.
Furthermore, Tayma Tameem does well to create a tense atmosphere that kept me on my toes, keeping me guessing about who the true enemy of peace in the kingdom was. The story ends with a twist that I never saw coming and sets up the second book in the series perfectly. I can't say that I am completely satisfied since I have to read the next book to see how this fascinating tale plays out.
Valoria: Heirdom is an exceptionally well-edited book. I did not find any errors while reading. There's not much to dislike about the novel as well. However, many of the characters' names beginning with the letter "Z" presented some confusion for me initially, but I got used to their names as the story went on.
All things considered, there is nothing that prevents me from awarding this book the maximum rating of four out of four stars. The plot and characters are well developed, and there is a lot of suspense to keep you engaged throughout. Young adults who enjoy fantasy novels will love this book.
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