Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
The princess didn't expect to fall in love--with her nemesis.
Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee from his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king's servitude.
Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.
Sepora's gift could save Tarik's kingdom from the Quiet Plague. But should she trust her growing feelings for her nemesis, or should she hide her gifts at all costs?
Nemesis is the first of two planned books by author Anna Banks. Banks is probably best known for her Syrena Legacy series. It is a story that surrounds two main characters. Princess Sepora of Serubel, and newly crowned King Tarik of Theoria who has the ability to suss out the truth from lies. The story alternates between the two characters. Sepora escapes her father, and his desire for world domination. She flees to Theoria where she hopes to blend in with the lower class. Tarik, meanwhile, experiences a devastating loss thanks to a plague that is slowly making its way through Theoria.
While Sepora is being captured and sold at Market to become one of the Kings newest concubines, Tarik and Lyceum healers rush to find a remedy to the Quiet Plague. Sepora has a bit of a secret. She is the presumed last Forger in what is the Five Kingdoms and also a runaway princess. She is able to generate a special metal known as Spectorium and must do so regularly to keep sane. Spectorium is valuable not only to Sepora, but also Theoria which uses the substance to build pyramids to the dead as well as an energy source.
While Sepora is trying to remain incognito trying to stop a war between her father and Tarik's country and not letting on who she really is and what she is able to do, things become complicated between the two characters. Do I say that the romance is instantaneous? No, not really. Is there a bit of a triangle? Nope. Sepora is determined and has a goal of bending the new King's ear and finding a way to stop a war. While Sepora is feisty and may get away with things others can't, she truly makes an impression on the young king and his brother. The ending leaves a whole lot of room for what is to come in the presumed sequel.
No folks, this is not a black face issue which seems to be distressing some reviewers. It is a case where in this world, Sepora and Tarik must paint their entire skin with various colors. For Sepora, it's silver. For Tarik, it's Gold. It's an upper class royalty thing and nothing more. It's hard not to like Tarik. He's known he would be the eventual heir to the crown, but not at 18 years of age. He has an entire kingdom now weighing on his shoulders, and if he can't figure out a way to save his people, they will revolt, or leave for greener pastures. There is plenty of fun banter between Tarik and Sepora, plus his brother Sethos.
Let's get this out of the way. I don't care that Sepora is presumably white, while Tarik is presumably of Egyptian descent. What matters to me is not the skin tone of the characters, but their strengths, their behavior when the chips are down, and their interaction with others. I don't waste time worrying about authors choosing to make their characters, white, or not. It is THEIR choice after all. Sometimes we get too uptight about things we have little or no control over.