Review: The Prince's Mage

I was very excited to receive an ARC of the second book in the Runes of Pain and Peace series by Celeste Baxendell. The Prince's Mage is the sequel to The Prince's Captive and the highly anticipated conclusion to Marcella and Gavril's tantalizing love story. The first book had me on the edge of my seat from all the juicy romance and suspense but left me with a feeling of discomfort due to the awful situations that Marcella ends up in because of the feud between her clan and Gavril's. This book resolves those issues so they can have a chance to live in peace. Gavril and Marcella are star-crossed lovers like Romeo and Juliet. The more passionate their feelings are toward each other, the more people seem to get hurt along the way. The Prince's Mage provides a thrilling conclusion to their love story demonstrating how true love can overcome seemingly impossible odds.

When we left Marcella at the end of The Prince's Captive, her worst fear became realized. In what she believed to be her final moments, she comes to terms with her love for Gavril and can think of nothing but him, crying out his name with her last ounce of strength. Meanwhile, Gavril believes he has failed Marcella in every way possible, even as he races to her rescue. When they are offered an impossible second chance, he is determined to do things properly this time. He no longer allows his people to treat Marcella as a prisoner and gives her a real bed instead of a prison cell, allowing her to enjoy at least some of the benefits of being his wife. There is more for him to atone for, however, because he is still unable to bring himself to reveal to her that they are married, something that she was unable to grasp due to the language barrier between them. This book allows them both to come to terms with their mistakes and grants them the opportunity to start fresh.

Like the first book in this series, The Prince's Mage is a dark story that is filled with both physical and emotional torture. The undying love between Gavril and Marcella is the one light in the darkness that makes the book difficult to put down. Both Marcella and Gavril suffer from PTSD as a result of the horrid torture tactics of Gavril's clan and spend most of the book comforting each other and learning to rely on each other as a source of support. Their stubborn refusal to lean on each other is challenged by Aimilia, an excellent mediator whose feelings for Gavril are proven genuine when she places his happiness above all else, even if it means he won't be with her. In another time, she would have been a romantic rival, but with today's standards of princesses forgiving their enemies, Aimilia is a wonderful friend to both Marcella and Gavril, making her a worthy lead for the next set of books in this series.

In spite of the characters' suffering, this book was a pleasure to read due to the tantalizing star-crossed romance. It introduces a world that is such a difficult place to live in that the only safe place for Marcella is with Gavril and vice versa. At the end of the story, all the torrid conflicts are resolved, and the feud between the two rival clans is elaborated upon. The reason for Marcella's capture revolves around her resemblance to her leader, Hypatia, who had murdered the wife of Gavril's brother, Nikias, in cold blood. This book gives Nikias an opportunity to come to terms with his anger toward Hypatia and ultimately accept that revenge never solves anything. It fully fleshes out Nikias as a character, paving the way for his role in the next set of books as well.

The Prince's Mage is a captivating and thrilling conclusion to Marcella and Gavril's story in the Runes of Pain and Peace series by Celeste Baxendell. Through the undying love between Marcella and Gavril, this book demonstrates how true love can overcome seemingly impossible odds. The story resolves the feuds between rival clans, providing a satisfying resolution. Marcella and Gavril's love shines throughout the dark themes of the book, making it difficult to put down. As they learn to rely on each other and find solace in their bond, the characters endure and grow, overcoming their own personal demons. Aimilia, a wonderful friend to both Marcella and Gavril, adds another layer of depth to the story, paving the way for the next set of books. The Prince's Mage is a perfect blend of romance, suspense, and redemption that is perfect for lovers of YA fantasy and romance.


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