Dafne Mailloux is the trusted librarian of the High Queen.
She loves learning and researching, and her years doing so
have made her good with languages. When the High Queen asks
her to journey to a foreign land to gather information,
Dafne reluctantly accepts. While journeying, she meets a
foreign king whose language she can't translate. Dafne is
submitted to a wedding of alliance in an unusual and magical
court, and she will find her loyalties more divided than
ever as secrets are uncovered.
THE PAGES OF THE MIND by Jeffe Kennedy is a magical journey
full of romance and politics. Dafne is relatable, a
librarian who loves studying but doesn't see herself fit for
more authoritative roles, though she is not shy or terribly
uncertain of herself. Her journey challenges the way she
sees herself and battles the way she thought her future
would look. Her story is one of significant self-discovery
and growth, as well as new and surprising love.
From the dragons to a king who can make it rain, the fantasy
elements are wonderful. The only minor issues are the
occasional modern sayings or phrases that stick out
abnormally in the setting. The king Dafne accidentally
marries, Nakoa, has seen visions of Dafne before, and part
of her uncertainty about their union is her trying to grasp
where the magic ends and something real begins- if there is
a line at all. Though they have a language barrier, they
find fascinating ways to communicate, and their slow burn
romance is terrifically done. Kennedy expertly balances
Dafne's romantic developments with Nakoa and her own
personal developments within herself.
Although this is the first book in the Uncharted
Realms series, THE PAGES OF
THE MIND reads fine as a standalone. The excellent
writing and nice cast of characters will likely have readers
wanting to read other characters' stories. Intense,
Tarzan-like romance with moving character growth from Dafne
make Jeffe Kennedy's latest a wonderful fantasy adventure.
Magic has broken free over the Twelve Kingdoms. The
population is beset by shapeshifters and portents,
landscapes that migrate, uncanny allies who are not quite
human…and enemies eager to take advantage of the chaos.
Dafne Mailloux is no adventurer--she's a librarian. But
High Queen trusts Dafne's ability with languages, her way
winnowing the useful facts from a dusty scroll, and even
more important, the subtlety and guile that three decades
under the thumb of a tyrant taught her.
Dafne never thought to need those skills again. But she
accepts her duty. Until her journey drops her into the
of a barbarian king. He speaks no tongue she knows but
of power, yet he recognizes his captive as a valuable
Dafne must submit to a wedding of alliance, becoming a
prisoner-queen in a court she does not understand. If she
to save herself and her country, she will have to learn
read the heart of a wild stranger. And there are more
secrets written there than even Dafne could suspect…
We sailed into the harbor of the biggest island a few
hours later. By then the volcano towered overhead,
dominating the sky much like another Sentinel. Only
instead of fog-wrapped, glassy silence, this one rumbled
as a disturbed god might, not yet angry, but leaning in
that direction. Like Uorsin had been most days toward the
end—quiescent for the most part, then erupting at the
least thing. Never predictable. I really wished I’d
thought, in my packing frenzy, to include a few books on
volcanoes, and what set them off.
As I looked, I recalled some scrolls I’d found in the
Tala’s collection in Annfwn. The drawings, vividly inked,
had caught my eye and stayed in my memory. They showed
islands dominated by perfect conical peaks, draped in
jungle foliage—and dragons flying through the sky. No
dragons in sight here, but the islands were uncannily
Ash filtered through the air like snowfall, settling on
my arms and leaving dusty smears behind, like the wings
of moths. A heavy stink filled my nose, burning acrid at
the back of my throat unlike any smoke I’d encountered—
though I recognized a faint cousin of it from the depths
of Windroven. The narrow entrance to the harbor stole all
my attention. Formed of two points that came close
together but did not meet, sporting two great beasts
facing each other.
They’d been carved from the rock of the landscape and
then built up with matching stone. As fearsome as the
Sentinels and probably twice as high as the tallest, they
reared up toward the sky, toothed jaws gaping wide. As we
passed between them, the detail became clearer—their
great tails looping down the rock ridges, the scales
exquisitely executed. The wings, like those of bats, lay
folded against their backs, but so lifelike that the
membrane seemed as ready to take wind as the sails of our
ship. A shiver ran through me as we passed between the
towering sentinels. Warning received.
As Zynda had reported, the harbor appeared to be far more
elaborate than I’d expected of such a remote realm. No
city or many buildings were in evidence, though the heavy
jungle foliage could easily obscure anything but a
castle. Piers and docks of the same elaborately carved
rock, however, vividly displayed the high level of
civilization. Everywhere sculptures twined through the
architecture. Cranes and pulleys stood waiting, with a
cart-and-rail system beyond to convey goods. No space
wasted that could be decorated. Cranes and herons stalked
in stony splendor along the pylons of the piers, the
floor of which formed the back of a sleepy tortoise.
Snakes twined to form the pillars of the arcade.
The place was eerily empty, however, with no ships at
harbor. The ghost twin of the Port of Ehas, as abandoned
as that place bustled.
“Are they all dead?” Jepp wondered in a hushed voice.
Between the abandoned harbor, the fuming mountain, and
the lingering hangover of doom from passing through first
the Sentinels and then the dragons, she sounded as I
felt. Not afraid, precisely. But ready to be.
“No,” Kral replied, striding up. He’d donned his full
armor again—they all had—and I felt exposed in
comparison. It seemed another ill omen that they dressed
as if preparing for war instead of a diplomatic mission,
though Kral told me not to be concerned, as it was
protocol. Maybe I’d been around the Hawks, Vervaldr, and
Tala too much, with their more relaxed ways and
preference for fighting leathers over mail, but the armor
made me as nervous as it had that day the general first
strode into Ordnung’s hall. “They moved the ships to
protect them from burning. Look there. King Nakoa KauPo
and his entourage.”
I followed the line of his finger to see the group
emerging through a vine-draped archway and striding onto
the stone dock. Surely that was the infamous King Nakoa
KauPo, leading the way, just as Ursula would want to do.
Our ship drew up to a berth at the deserted pier, the men
throwing out ropes to secure the Hákyrling in place, and
I tucked myself into a corner of the rail out of the way,
where I could observe and take notes in my journal. As
the king and his party came near, it became clear that
the Nahanauns were as naked as the Dasnarians were
armored. Darker skinned than Jepp, King Nakoa KauPo’s
chest was bare, decorated with tattoos a few shades
deeper. They reminded me of the dragons and other
creatures carved into the rock, the muscles of his chest
and abdomen similarly hard and ridged as the volcanic
formations. As if he’d been created of the same substance
and then animated. A fanciful thought indeed. Something
about this place brought out my imagination—in a dark and
He wore his black hair loose like the Tala, but not as
long. Instead it coiled around his shoulders like a
living thing, and what I took at first for ash dusting
the dark locks turned out to be silver and white streaks
threading throughout, like lightning spearing through
thunderheads. More than his coloring evoked that image,
as his expression was also stormy, brooding and stern.
Some of what I’d taken for tattoos turned out to be what
looked like flexible scaled armor at the vulnerable
points of his shoulders, elbows, and ankles and over his
groin. His only other garment was a sort of skirt—though
that seemed the wrong word for it, as it wasn’t feminine
in the least. More like the kyltes the Vervaldr sometimes
wore when off duty, short and mainly to cover the groin.
He went barefoot as they all did, with some sort of
similar shields over his ankles, and wore a copper torque
at his throat.
Male and female warriors attended him, the women with the
same scaly plates over their breasts, but their slender,
toned waists also bare. They carried bows and spears
instead of swords, and all looked as fierce as Jepp. None
had the white streaks King Nakoa KauPo did. Was it a sign
of age or something else? Not age, I thought, as his face
seemed not lined enough. Ridged, yes, set in those
brooding lines, but not wrinkled. I found myself
sketching that face, rapt.
At that moment, though I hadn’t moved, he looked up,
fixing me with a stare so penetrating I startled. His
eyes were as black as the obsidian Sentinels, and equally
sharp and forbidding. He studied me, as if equally
fascinated by me, though I couldn’t imagine why.
“Danu take me.” Jepp whistled. “We have to go ashore, if
only for one night. Look at those people. I’ll never
forgive myself if I don’t taste one—male or female. I
wonder if they’d be willing to do a threesome with me.
I’ll ask. What can it hurt? After all, we’re only here a
night, if that.”
“You’ll have a difficult time asking,” I told her
quietly, as if King Nakoa KauPo could hear me. It seemed
as if he did, as hard as he stared at me, a ridiculous
thought, as he couldn’t understand Common Tongue.
“Remember—they don’t speak Dasnarian.”
Jepp gave me an arch look. “You might be the smart one
with all your knowledge, but the language of the body is
one I know and communicate in very well. Some things
don’t require words.”
Between Jepp’s salacious remark and the discomfort of
King Nakoa KauPo’s intense regard, I flushed. His
expression didn’t change from the stark lines, but his
full lips curved into a slight smile, though he couldn’t
possibly guess at our conversation. He dipped his chin
and turned to greet Kral, now that the gangplank was down
and the general, along with his own set of guards, strode
ashore. They raised hands, palm out, and King Nakoa KauPo
gestured to the ship. Kral pulled something palm-sized
from his pocket and handed it to Nakoa, who glanced at
it, at me again. Nodded.