Offspring, by Scott Appleton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is Book 2 of The Sword of the Dragon series, and since I came in late to this one, it took me a few chapters to make sense of all the characters. We meet villains in a battle between good and evil forces on the first page, with traitors complicating the fight. As a result of this treason, a curse is handed down. We go through most of the book before this curse comes into play, so if you're confused by that part, it helped me to go back and read it again after finishing the book. If you read the first book, you'll get this from the start. As the story progressed, enough was explained that I now understand what I missed, but I was a bit lost at first.

The cast of characters is diverse, from the father (Ilfedo) who inadvertently becomes ruler of the Hemmed Lands, to his sisters-in-law who help raise his daughter. The grief of losing his wife is at times too heavy for Ilfedo, but these women and his old friends stand beside him with loyalty befitting the now royal family.

The battles are intense--dark forces oppressing the innocent until the light breaks through. The creatures are original--dark bird-men, a powerful dragon, talking serpents, monstrous megatraths, to name a few. The heroes are truly heroic--selflessly sacrificing for their loved ones and their people. And in the center of it all is a princess who grows into a young woman, proving her capability in battle, her wisdom in decision-making, and her kindness in relationships. This is an epic tale, one that I will definitely be sharing with my teen daughters and recommending for any fantasy lovers.

**Thanks,, for the review copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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