Candidate (The Black Mage Book 3)
Twenty-year-old Ryiah is a black mage of Combat, but she's not the Black Mage. Yet. She's had her eyes on the legendary robe for as long as she can remember, and in just one year, she will have a chance at her country's prestigious--and only--tourney for war mages... Too bad she is going up against a certain prince--the one person she has yet to beat.
The Candidacy finally arrives and a winner is robed, but something dark is lurking in her kingdom's midst. Rival nations are closing in, and it's time to make an alliance.
Unfortunately for Ryiah, that's only the beginning. The worst enemy resides in the palace.
*** The third book in the The Black Mage series by USA Today bestselling author Rachel E. Carter. ***
Ryiah is no longer a student and she's no longer just a mage either. She's the princess to be in a country that is on the brink of war. Her fiance may be the only good thing in the palace and she isn't ready to give up her life quite yet. She must switch between serving with her fellow mages and soldiers and serving with the royal family. Both sides distaste for her is evident. Her competitive spirit threatens to break her relationships. And her family is anything but on board. She must navigate perils at every turn and finally sees that she must choose a side.
What I loved:
This story was so fast-paced, I couldn't put it down. There was so much going on and the complexities astounded me after the simpler previous books. We don't always know what is going on or who is the enemy and I loved that it kept me guessing at every turn. The writing is incredibly rich in this one while still staying away from flowery prose. It's a delicate balance and Ms. Carter navigates it with ease.
What was just okay:
The characters weren't quite as likable. They were conflicted, but Ryiah had been such a strong, fierce woman, and at times here she was relegated to a petulant teenager. She lacks any sort of empathy or social awareness and it's replaced by extreme selfishness masquerading as competitive flare. She made up for it in loyalty to her fiance though and love for her family. We were sorely missing Alex in this book. His humor or Ella's kindness would have tempered her. Lucky for her, she's surrounded by fascinating and complex characters like to brother-in-law to be.
A roller-coaster of a book that leaves the reader out of breath and without the mental capacity to think of anything but when they can begin the final book.