Reviewed by Nino Lobiladze for Readers' Favorite
Could the overly spoiled Princess Anherad even imagine that her refusal to marry the chieftain of Darad would bring dire consequences? Her father, Prince Ercanbald, threatens to send her to a convent to live a challenging life there for six months instead of participating in a long-time awaited ball season in Kedara where he rules. But Prince Ercanbald must obey the will of King Meginhard and provide Lord Wilfrid, the chieftain of Darad, with a bride from his house and a rich dowry. Thus, he asks his niece, Princess Roswitha, to marry Lord Wilfried instead of Anherad. Roswitha, or Roz, a clever and well-educated young woman, understands that what awaits her is more than just a marriage. There were clashes between Darad and neighboring principalities constituting the Kingdom of Sundara that led to mutual harm and even deaths. Facing the danger of a civil war, King Meginhard decides to forge necessary alliances under the supervision of Prince Ercanbald. The Cliffs of Darad by Isabella Berdyna Zysk is a breathtaking story of love, well-hidden secrets, betrayal, and family values.
I loved every single page of this wonderful novella. It starts with a dramatic scene between Ercanbald and Anherad and is described with sparkling humor by Isabella Berdyna Zysk. The Cliffs of Darad captivates readers' attention from the first chapter and never disappoints till the surprising end of this thrilling story. The author brilliantly crafts the setting for the main events to unfold. She even added a handy map of the Kingdom of Sundara! Also, I appreciated the list of royalties with a brief mention of their mutual connections. I immediately fell in love with the well-developed and reliable characters - the main and the secondary ones. It is impossible to dislike Ercanbald's fatherly figure or an epitome of women's wisdom and tactfulness represented by Roz. As the narrative unfolds, more mysteries and unexpected discoveries come into play, making The Cliffs of Darad so engaging. The main message of the story shows readers the importance of honesty, kindness, respectfulness, and moral duty without a "holier-than-thou" stance. I highly recommend The Cliffs of Darad to fans (especially young ones) of the fantasy genre, historical prose, family drama novels, and even crime thrillers. I would love to read the next installments of The Sundara Tales.