Masayi Sairu was raised to be dainty, delicate, demure . . . and deadly. She is one of the emperor’s Golden Daughters, as much a legend as she is a commodity. One day, Sairu will be contracted in marriage to a patron, whom she will secretly guard for the rest of her life.
But when she learns that a sacred Dream Walker of the temple seeks the protection of a Golden Daughter, Sairu forgoes marriage in favor of this role. Her skills are stretched to the limit, for assassins hunt in the shadows, and phantoms haunt in dreams. With only a mysterious Faerie cat and a handsome slave—possessed of his own strange abilities—to help her, can Sairu shield her new mistress from evils she can neither see nor touch?
For the Dragon is building an army of fire. And soon the heavens will burn.
I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. And wow, I loved it! Of course, I love all of Anne Elisabeth Stengl's books, so I expected nothing less.
One of my favorite aspects of the Tales of Goldstone Wood series that although the setting is an imaginary world (or set of worlds, actually), it's obviously inspired by real cultures and geographical locations in our world. The empire in which most of Golden Daughter takes place is based on a mix of East Asian cultures, which I especially appreciated, considering that I live in East Asia myself.
The characters here are vividly portrayed, and I couldn't help but care about their struggles and triumphs. It was nice to see a few old friends from Stengl's other books, but we mostly meet new characters in Golden Daughter. The author threw out a few intriguing tidbits that help connect the dots between events in various other books in the series, some of which take place thousands of years apart. Now I want to go back and re-read certain scenes in certain of her other books that I know will make more sense now.
If you enjoy fantasy at all, I highly recommend the Tales of Goldstone Wood. If you've read any of the other books in the series, you'll definitely want to read Golden Daughter. If you haven't, Golden Daughter can stand on its own - but after you read it, you may find yourself eager to get your hands on the rest!