Now sixteen-year-old Ryiah is an apprentice in Combat, her school’s most notorious faction of magic. When she finishes she will be a mage, but in order to do so she has to survive four years with a training master she hates and her old nemesis, Priscilla. To make matters worse the unwanted attraction Ry feels for her sometimes-friend-sometimes-rival Prince Darren is at an all time high –even though he is betrothed to the very girl she can’t stand.
Really, the only bright spot to Ryiah’s new life is the time she spends with her friends, including an older apprentice named Ian, who she finds herself thinking about quite often.
Just when things start to get comfortable they take a turn for the worse. An apprentice is killed in a rebel attack and several mages end up dead. Unwittingly, the apprentices find themselves in the midst of a budding unrest between Jerar and its northern neighbor, Caltoth. For Ryiah the impending conflict means many things, but as her apprenticeship draws to a close she finds her biggest problem at home.
Unfortunately for her, Darren’s not going anywhere.
This book was quite longer than the previous, First Year, and goes through the rest of the characters’ training, so that spans about… four years. Damn son. I have to say, despite some elements I liked that First Year didn’t have, there’s also a lot of stuff that I got really tired of, real quick.
Our main character, Ryiah, is doing pretty well at school. The rigorous course from First Year really prepared her and her friends, so there is less detail on their coursework and the amount of studying and practicing they did. Instead, Rachel E Carter introduces the world the characters live in and its conflicts. I really liked this, considering I’m pretty sure the first book hardly mentioned the place they lived in at all. The majority of the book took place at The Academy so it felt quite secluded.
The characters live in Jerar, which is coming into conflict with one of its neighboring kingdoms, Caltoth. In the book we see a little bit of the Caltoth soldiers, but other than that: nothing. I kind of wish there was a little bit more background on all the countries, including history and culture. Think of your most generic fantasy setting and kingdoms, and there we have Jerar. This is a little disappointing considering you have MAGES fighting with MAGIC and obviously if there’s magic then somehow it started and there’s definitely drama in that to fill the history books. Alas, the drama we discuss today is for a different situation.
In my eighth grade US History class, there used to be a poster called “Save the drama for your llama.” Omg I found it lol.
Anyway, I didn’t really understand it years back because why the heck would I own a llama?? After reading this book, that’s all I could think about. There was just so much of it – teenage angst and drama. I guess I shouldn’t complain much, because there’s bound to be drama in YA books dealing with teenagers, but there’s just someone who I couldn’t stand in the book: Darren.
Is he supposed to be like Jericho Barrons? Honestly, it just felt like he was on his period the whole time. There’s this song by Katy Perry that goes a little bit like this:
You’re hot and you’re cold
“‘I want you, Ryiah. Just say the words and I’ll do it.'”
You’re yes and you’re no
“‘What do you want me to say, Ryiah? I made a mistake.'”
You’re in and you’re out
“‘I’m in love with you, Ryiah. Nothing is ever going to change that.”
You’re up and you’re down.
‘”I never loved you.'”
I don’t like it when characters are 70% cold and 30% hot. That was Darren in this book. I don’t care how much he had a heart of gold on the inside because actions are what decides things. Granted, his actions in the end were fine and dandy, but still. I’m tired of making excuses for this guy.
Ian, on the other hand, is introduced as a second love interest. He’s sweet and much more open than Darren. If Ryiah doesn’t want him, I’ll happily take him.
In all honesty though, the characters were all great in their own way. Ryiah was great in asserting herself and developing her magic (even with moody lil’ bitches like Master Byron). Ella and Alex’s relationship get pretty intense, and Alex especially grows to become the man that Ella needs, rather than his flirtatious old self. Ella continues to be a fantastic supporting character that really supports Ryiah, and Priscilla continues to be a fantastic bitch that bitches all the time. More characters are introduced that you love and hate, and some characters come back.
I really appreciate the battle scenes. They’re quite detailed, and the author takes us through the planning and steps the characters take to lay out mock battles for training. She thinks of the most minute details and they just go so well with the dangerous setting. Although I would’ve liked a more thorough history of the world, in my opinion this makes up for it. It isn’t every day that an author will be so descriptive in battles, and like I said, I really appreciate it.
Going back to the romance though, the emphasis put on it was just too much for me. At one point, Ryiah had to “choose” between Ian and Darren. Like a Pokemon! She literally says, “I choose you,” at least two times in the book. I’m disappointed she thought she had to choose one of the guys and break the heart of the other. You could have chosen NEITHER of them. Problem solved. But no, Ryiah has to make it complicated to herself, even though she’s sixteen (or around that age) and could have been better off training rather than crying about boys. At some point, it seemed like if I asked Ryiah “Apprenticeship v. Boys” she probably would have picked boys. It really seemed that way, given the amount of crying and worrying she did for the opposite gender.
Going on to the writing, I feel like the author likes to repeat certain words or phrases. They’re kind of like a default. Since book one I’ve read all about Darren’s garnet/fire eyes and Ryiah’s traitorous body/mind and Alex being a big flirt. I think we get the point. Other than that, there’s something about not using contractions that make the dialogue seem kind of stilted. It’s one thing to say, “I am not hungry,” and another to say, “I’m not hungry.” Granted, all the characters talk that way so I just take it all in and pretend that’s how they speak in the book. I’m not sure if Rachel E Carter does it on purpose or that’s just the way she writes, because in my personal experience I cannot sound believable if I do not use contractions. Either that or I am being way formal.
So getting down to the main points, I really liked how the characters remained consistent and strong. At first we are introduced to more of the world, but there’s not enough to my liking. For others though, I’m sure it’ll be fine. The romance is high angst and high intensity, but although I complained about it I didn’t not enjoy reading it. Sometimes I just need some ridiculous angst in my otherwise mundane and stressful life.
I’m giving it a half star lower than the first book because Darren was honestly pissing me off, and too much of Ryiah’s time was devoted to thinking about him, in my opinion.
“That, and I was done with my body’s traitorous reaction any time the prince looked at me.”
You and me both, girl. You and me both.