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The Queen's Bastard (The Inheritors' Cycle, Book 1) by C.E. Murphy
Cover Artist: Gene Mollica
Review by Beth Slater
Del Rey Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345494641
Date: 29 April 2008 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

First in a new trilogy by Murphy, this erotic-fantasy novel features Belinda Primrose, the bastard daughter of the Red Queen of Aulun, Lorraine.

Belinda is raised by her father, Robert, Lord Drake, who serves as the royal spymaster to Lorraine. Belinda is unaware of her heritage until her teenage years, when she finally uses the lifetime of training she's been receiving to complete her first assignment: her first kill in the name of her queen. Since infancy, Belinda has been trained as an assassin and spy to work for her father and follow in his footsteps – unbeknownst to all but the queen.

Gifted with perfect memory going back to her birth, Belinda fosters her strange gifts, not realizing she has unusual powers that others don't. When her father discovers her magic, so like his own, he stunts her growth in that area, but Belinda works around him, never forgetting the wonder of it.

After her success in her first assignment, she is sent out into the world of politics and internal machinations, spying for her queen and loyal only to Aulun.

When she is sent to Lutetia, she is able to work undercover with the gentry instead of her usual position in the working class, where she plays undetectable and unintrusive parts. Finding she enjoys some of the luxurious customs, Belinda has to work harder at keeping her "stillness," as she calls it -- staying neutral, keeping "Belinda Primrose" separate from whatever roles and feelings she uses while working.

She uses her magic, so alien, unlike anything and anyone else, to help her remain disconnected – until she reaches her target for this mission, Prince Javier. The son of her mother's enemy, the one she is supposed to take down, he may be the one she keeps for her own.

This is a complicated historical fantasy for me, but only because I do not follow politics well. The politics are somewhat key to the plot, although they do not constitute a large part of the book. I loved Murphy's Urban Shaman, but I think a lot of her other work has gotten too dark for me. But if you like history, politics, and erotic fantasy, you should love this.

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