After Janny Wurts became my favourite author with Wars of Light and Shadow, I jumped at the chance to borrow one of her earlier standalones when it was offered to me to borrow. I did eventually get my own copy, which is why this can be added to my bookshelf spotlight, and I’ve since read it multiple times.
This book is very different from WOLAS, and quite short. The book opens with the main character, a strong and independent woman, being held within a cell after invaders have conquered her land and slain her husband. A sorcerer appears and takes her through her possible fates if she stays, versus the possibility she has to save herself and her unborn child if she chooses to come with him. He has been searching through time and space for the right lady to help save his prince. A prince cursed with black magic to be sterile, a fate that leads to death if he fails to conceive an heir by his next birthday, just days away. The sorcerer has a plan to pass off her unborn child as the prince’s and thus save his life. He warns that her choice does not come without risk, and the person responsible for the curse is very much still active against the prince, and will be against her too. She makes the obvious choice and goes with him. But at the betrothal banquet, as per custom, a seer/priestess makes three statements: one to the prince, one to her and one to all. These statements are truth and always come true. And the truth given to her suggests that they will fail.
The sorcerer beckoned to her from a land of ice and snow and, stricken by the death of her husband and the loss of the lands they ruled together, she followed his call. He led her to a world ruled by wizards who played a deadly game of court intrigue, with a kingdom as the prize. He brought her to their court wrapped in the protection of his sorceries – and then he died. And she was left in the centre of the game, with no knowledge of the rules or the players, no way of knowing who played with White magic and who played with Black.