My love of reading started with history. Historical fiction and historical fantasy are often great ways to really envelop yourself into a different time and culture. They can really make your world disappear, even as it replaces it with a new one. Because of my adoration for historical fiction, I knew I would love reading Duty (First Novel of Rhynan) by Rachel Rossano.
The story begins as Brielle finds herself suddenly married (by proxy) to Tomas, Lord Irvaine, one of the new king’s favorites at court. Tomas and Brielle have been married as Orwin, Brielle’s scheming cousin, made the arrangements in order to find favor with the new king and depose Tomas in court.
Neither of them know each other well, but given the circumstances, Brielle has no choice but to marry him. She finds herself the leader of her town, a sudden noble and married to a soldier-turned-noble; she is also suddenly a mother to Darnaby, Tomas’ small son.
If this weren’t enough, Orwin has set his sights on causing more trouble in court in an effort to gain power. Brielle finds her loyalty questioned and her life in the balance as more trouble begins to stir. Only through Tomas and Brielle’s trust can things be resolved.
1. Thematically linked. All the points of struggle come down to a question of trust, and a balance between uncertainty and reliability. Between Brielle’s hesitancy to embrace her married life, her concern over whether she will be a good mother, her diligence in seeing to the needs of her people, and her willingness to fight for her honor, all of these struggles reflect a concern for duty, honor, and ultimately strong moral character.
2. Characters. Each character is well-written and believable, with strong traits distinguishable. I especially liked Brielle’s character, because of her authenticity and decisiveness; I thought it was a great complement to Tomas’ facade of rigid formality.
3. The evolution of character. Brielle’s character does a lot of growing, both in her actions and in her choices, and in her perspectives. I thought this book did a really great job of showing it, as she goes from protecting her people from starvation during the winter to riding into battle beside Tomas.
There is a second book in Rachel Rossano’s series, Honor, which I have picked up as well.
Have you read the book? Let us know what you thought in the comments below!