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Kingdoms of Caelum: Autumn of the War Queen
N.M. McIntyre
Lulu Publishing, 208 pages

Kingdoms of Caelum: Autumn of the War Queen
N.M. McIntyre
Nicola Michelle McIntyre was born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. She has two children and is happily married. She has enjoyed writing from an early age. First becoming published for poetry at twelve years old, as well as winning several short writing competitions and a publishing contract for her first novel, Flame, Prince of Accerion.

N.M. McIntyre Website
ISFDB Bibliography

A review by Sandra Scholes

Caelum is a realm made up of several Kingdoms and they have lived in peace for several years but when Katla Veurink has left her kingdom she is out in the open, prey to many who would want to see her dead if they knew who she was. She doesn't act like a victim though. She has to choose her own path and fight against those who have betrayed her.

Katla is a gentle girl, attractive and graceful, yet she is a tomboy at heart who loved to feel the weight of a weapon in her hands. At least Piat Stout, a young guardsman has noticed the sense of fight in her though he is a friend of hers and has been since he was young:

  "You have the beauty of a rose, the grace of a swan, yet you dress and shoot arrow like any mud soaked warrior."  

Katla doesn't like that her father wants her to marry Thornic, prince of Thurlstone, but she knows nothing of love and Piat sees this though he is in love with her. In his eyes, she is different from the other girls who dream of marrying above their station in order to get the finery that goes with their husband's position. Piat in some ways seems to wish she was more like them, but also likes her individuality -- he just doesn't admit it to others.

For years Katla had not known the real reason for her being wed to Thornic, and when her father, Hallvarder tells her, her world turns to chaos. Her union with Thornic would unite the two kingdoms of Thurlstone and Roskilde, giving her father control over them, though if she doesn't obey her father's will, he would be challenged as he has no sons from his wife. There is another reason she must marry Thornic. The dark elves of Fortis are starting to rise in power and, if they don't unite with Thurlstone, they might side with Fortis and her father can't let that happen.

In the midst of all the troubles Hallvarder is having with his daughter, Katla, his brother, Ragan is busy plotting to overthrow his brother's position as he has no sons, and has already noticed that his treachery knows no bounds. While Hallvarder is an honourable man, his younger brother thinks nothing of killing other men, or sending others to be hanged. He is a thoroughly awful character who has no redeeming qualities. Katla doesn't suspect Raglan's plots but she doesn't trust him either. The effects of what he has in store will linger. Katla has all the attributes of a warrior and she isn't afraid to get herself dirty, though her father only sees her as a means to keep the two kingdoms united.

Katla has fond memories of her father from when she was young. He has always been fair and treated her well, but Ragan is a stark contrast to him. As his brother he is dark, dressed all in black robes, he casts a wraith-like shadow over everyone, he can be associated with death. She and Amya refer to him as Uncle Black Bones due to his skeletal appearance. When Katla realises through Ragan that she could marry several men including the man she has grown to love, Piat, she casts some doubt over whether her father actually loved her, or wanted to use her as a pawn for the kingdom's restoration to greatness. With this new knowledge she decides it would be better for her to leave the kingdom and go somewhere her father could not find her, hoping he will rethink his plans. In one chapter she leaves her sister a letter, hoping she will take it to her father:

I have left the kingdom. I can not face the marriage to Thornic when my heart lies with Piat Stout. I hope you understand. Tell father I love him, as I do you.
Perhaps we will meet again someday.

Katla may feel her freedom has just begun, but her troubles have only just escalated. She does have an ally in a man who takes her under his wing. He is Bane and used to fending for himself. He acts like she is a burden to him, but he has an instinct to protect her even if she might want to rebel against him and his motives. Katla has a special relationship with him and though Katla is a strong girl, N.M. McIntyre has also made her vulnerable, unsure, and needy. In the twenty-first century these aren't the sort of traits that would get girls far, but back in medieval times a young woman would feel all those different emotions even if she didn't comment on them to others.

Kingdoms of Caelum: Autumn of the War Queen is an enjoyable read showing us the realism of battle, and the way the characters would have coped in Medieval times even though Katla and her father were seen as nobles. They still had to deal with harsh times just as Katla doesn't really know her own father and his reasons for wanting to marry her off to a man she isn't interested in. She leads a closed life with her father and sister, but she has never gone beyond the city, though she has hunted and enjoyed some of her younger times with those closest to her, she doesn't know what it is like to live life on her own. When she leaves, she is reduced to relying on others to help her including Bane when she is most desperate. N.M. McIntyre does a good job of not depicting the glamour of being a noble girl in a kingdom where there are those who will want to overthrow your right to rule. You would think that Katla and Amya would be happy in their kingdom, but they know how cruel Ragan could be to them as he already has a history of destroying the lives of his many victims. It is only when it is too late for the two of them that they realize his reputation precedes him before they can do anything about it. This novel is dark, doom-laden and the sort of read that gets to the heart of medieval court intrigue.

Copyright © 2013 Sandra Scholes

Sandra is currently braving the harsh wintry weather that has recently come upon the UK, and when she's not, she's writing for the British Fantasy Society, Fantasy Book Review and Love Romance Passion. Magazine.

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