Princesses Ailsbet and Marlissa live in a world of political intrigue and magic in the young adult novel, “The Rose Throne,” by Utah author Mette Ivie Harrison.
Ailsbet secretly hides her taweyr — a magic usually inborn in men, which imbues an enhanced sense of aggression and fighting abilities upon its possessor — from her father. Marlissa, on the other hand, is well known for her more feminine neweyr, a magic that allows her to cultivate and nourish living things.
Marlissa and Ailsbet are brought together while Marlissa awaits her engagement to Ailsbet’s younger brother — a marriage arranged to bring the opposing countries into a more peaceful, unified reign.
Different in temperament and stature, both princesses must decide how much loyalty they owe their countries and whether the costs of duty are worth more than the price of individual happiness.
Each princess is intriguing and has a unique presence in the novel. Unfortunately, the wonderful juxtaposition of two young women of equal, yet varied talents and personalities creates a duality that somewhat slows the main thrust of the plot. The girls are not enemies with one another, but they are not a team either. Unlike most fiction, there is no clear protagonist in “The Rose Throne,” and by the climax one is left wondering who will be the hero instead of anxiously cheering for the hero to win.
As a teen romance, the book does contain some brief passionate kissing and some mild allusions to violence. The main discussion factor with teenagers who read this book may be the gender orientation overtones that permeate the text. Magic emerges at puberty, and those who have the “wrong” magic are hunted by a despot king and executed. Although possibly unintentional, the book’s references to gender orientation and accepting those with different proclivities echoes the real-world issue of homophobia.
With little objectionable content and plenty of magic, “The Rose Throne” will please many young adult readers looking for a fun summer read.
Miranda H. Lotz is a military wife, mother of five and book lover who currently lives in Colorado Springs.
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