The Misted Cliffs

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Overview

Award-winning author Catherine Asaro, creator of The Skolian Empire returns to the world of Aronsdale, a place rich with magic and power.

One generation after war had nearly destroyed three nations, evil was returning. And only Mel Dawnfield's daring sacrifice could stop it . . .

The promise of peace rested on this young woman's noble vow: to marry Cobalt the Dark -- heir ...

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Overview

Award-winning author Catherine Asaro, creator of The Skolian Empire returns to the world of Aronsdale, a place rich with magic and power.

One generation after war had nearly destroyed three nations, evil was returning. And only Mel Dawnfield's daring sacrifice could stop it . . .

The promise of peace rested on this young woman's noble vow: to marry Cobalt the Dark -- heir to a family of legendary cruelty. With only her uncontrolled spells to guide her, isolated in Cobalt's solitary home in the Misted Cliffs, knowing poisoned blood ran through her husband's veins, Mel struggled to embrace her unexpected mage powers and unveil the light in her shadowy new world -- including the radiance hidden in her husband's soul. For her enemies were gathering strength and they would soon unleash the darkest of evils in the name of war.

In the final battle, Mel's ability to harness her magic would mean the difference between a harmonious world . . . and annihilation.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
When Cobalt the Dark frees his imprisoned father, the deposed king of Harsdown, he ensures that war will once again shatter the peace of the three countries of Harsdown, Aronsdale, and Misted Cliffs. To prevent such a disaster, Princess Melody Dawnfield, daughter of the current king of Harsdown, agrees to marry the brooding, cruel Cobalt. Trained as a mage and a swordswoman, "Mel" is not what her new husband expects, and his feelings may become his downfall. The author of the multivolume "Skolian Empire" series returns to Aronsdale, where magic progresses by colors and shapes and where two young people hold the fate of three kingdoms in their hands. An appealing combination of fantasy and romance, this title belongs in most collections. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373802265
  • Publisher: Luna
  • Publication date: 7/28/2005
  • Series: Luna Series
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Catherine Asaro was born in Oakland, California, and grew up in El Cerrito, just north of Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. in chemical physics and M.A. in physics, both from Harvard, and a B.S. with Highest Honors in chemistry from UCLA. Among the places she has done research are the University of Toronto in Canada, the Max-Planck-Institut Astrophysik in Germany, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Her research involves using quantum theory to describe the behavior of atoms and molecules. Catherine was a physics professor until 1990, when she established Molecudyne Research, which she currently runs.

A former ballerina, Catherine has performed with ballets and in musicals on both coasts and in Ohio. In the 1980s she was a principal dancer and artistic director of the Mainly Jazz Dancers and the Harvard University Ballet. After she graduated, her undergraduate students took over Mainly Jazz and made it into an organization at the college. Catherine still teaches ballet in Maryland.

Catherine's fiction is a successful blend of hard science fiction, romance and exciting space adventure. She has published nine novels, seven of which belong to her Saga of the Skolian Empire. Catherine has been nominated for many awards. Among those she's won are the Nebula Award for best novel of 2001 for The Quantum Rose and the Romantic Times Award for Best SF Novel for both Spherical Harmonic and Ascendant Sun.

Her husband is John Kendall Cannizzo, an astrophysicist at NASA. They have one daughter, a young ballet dancer who loves math.

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Read an Excerpt

1
Citadel of Rumors

They called him the Midnight Prince.

Cobalt the Dark, the only son of Varqelle Escar, stood on a ridge and looked out across the Barrens. In the distance, the blurred towers of a half-hidden fortress made black silhouettes against the darkening sky. The Citadel of Rumors. It guarded a bleak, northern landscape.

This sunset would finish far more than one day. An era would soon end. For the last eighteen years, the people of Aronsdale, Harsdown, and the Misted Cliffs had lived without hostilities among their three countries. Tonight, the Midnight Prince would destroy that peace.

For eighteen years, his father had been a prisoner in these desolate Barrens. For eighteen years, Varqelle, the king of Harsdown, had lived in the Citadel of Rumors against his will, captured by the Aronsdale king, guarded by Aronsdale cavalry and troops, locked here in isolation while an imposter sat on his throne in Harsdown.

Now that would end.

Cobalt mounted his horse, a powerful charger. He had left Admiral, his travel horse, back in camp. This one stamped and snorted, straining to run. His advisers had cautioned him to wait for morning, but Cobalt had waited and planned for years. He would delay no longer. He drew his sword and stretched his arm straight up with the blade pointing at the sky. Behind him, six hundred warriors would be leaning forward in their saddles, ready to charge. His men would thunder out of the crimson sunset like avenging angels.

He intended to free his father -- no matter what the price.

Melody Headwind Dawnfield went by the name Mel, and woe to anyone who called her Princess Melody. She sat astride Tangle, a horse from the royal stables, and rode through the orchards on her family’s estate in Harsdown. The practice sword at her hip had interlocking polygons engraved on its hilt. Her yellow hair caught leaves, and she knew she ought to tie it back. She would have preferred to cut it off, but she had promised her father to reconsider.

Mel sighed. Her father was an admirable king, a great army commander and swordsman, but he cared about fashion too much. She preferred to tramp about the orchards and hike in the woods. Her behavior would be considered scandalous for a woman of the royal court in Aronsdale, the country of her father’s birth, but here on their farm in Harsdown it was only odd. Her father often grumbled about her lack of decorum, but Mel knew he enjoyed her free spirit. Although she had no desire to conform, she also wished to do well in her role as heir to the throne. Someday she would have to follow the dictates of protocol more closely, but for now she had the liberty to be herself, and she relished that freedom.

She reined Tangle to a stop under an apple tree rich with green and gold autumn leaves. She loved this fertile country far more than the stark mountains to the north or the humid southern climes. The horse snuffled and shook its head, then settled down to nibble at straggles of grass. Mel sat in the saddle and braided her hair. The last rays of the sun slanted through the trees, and many shapes showed in the patches of light and shadow on the leaf-strewn ground, a triangle here, a circle there. One caught her notice in particular, an almost perfect square. It glowed with light, so bright she had to squint. Oddly enough, it had a red tinge --

The leaves within the square caught fire.

“Hai!” Mel swung off Tangle and stamped on the flames. The horse stopped grazing, but otherwise didn’t seem concerned. This wasn’t the first time he had witnessed her mishaps. Fortunately, only a few leaves caught fire, and she easily put out the small blaze. Tangle went back to grazing.

Mel winced. “Sorry about that.” At least a horse didn’t chastise her for losing control of the spell. It was more than she could say for Skylark, the elderly mage mistress who was training Mel.

She knelt by the ashes. Apparently she had exerted more control than she realized, for the fire had burned in an exact square. She focused on the square and thought of the color hierarchy of spells, from lowest to highest level: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo -- like the rainbow created when light shone through a prism. She imagined the next color after red -- and the square glowed orange, adding its luminance to the fading light of a gorgeous autumn day. Refocusing on yet another spell, Mel imagined the orchards in a season when their trees were thick with green leaves and green foliage carpeted the hills. The light within the square turned green -- and suddenly Mel knew how much Tangle enjoyed the succulent grass.

“Hey!” Mel grinned at the horse. He lifted his head to look at her, then returned to his meal. She sat back on her haunches. Amazing. Would Skylark believe Mel had felt the mood of a horse? Green spells worked mainly on human beings, revealing their emotions. They might conceivably work on an animal, but usually only an experienced mage could achieve that level of nuance. Mel had come into her abilities relatively late in life, only within the past few years, and she had a great deal to learn.

“What do you say?” she asked Tangle. “Shall I try a blue spell?” Mel doubted she could go as high as blue, the color of healing. She struggled when Skylark worked with her on such spells and had yet to create one. Mel’s mother, Chime, was a green mage, one color below blue, and Mel suspected green would be her highest color as well. Her father, King Muller, was an indigo, but he could use only flawed shapes. They damaged his spells, with unpredictable results. For that reason, he rarely called on his power, lest his spell go awry and hurt someone.

She attempted the blue spell, with no result. Well, she was only eighteen. Perhaps she needed more time for her mage talents to finish developing. Skylark had her own theory about why Mel couldn’t do blue spells. The mage mistress claimed it was because Mel preferred “hefting swords and dashing about on horses” to the more serene pursuits of healing and meditation. The theory aggravated Mel. A swordswoman needed the ability to heal just as much as did a scholar or mystic, and she deeply regretted that she couldn’t manage the blue spells.

In ancient times, mage queens had ridden with the army. Sometimes a wildness stirred in Mel, deep in the night, and the fire of those ancient queens burned within her. In her dreams, she thundered across the land on a charger with her sword held high. Her people had fought no war for eighteen years and had no reason to think they might soon, but she was the only child of the king and queen of Harsdown, and regardless of what she did with her mage heritage, the day would come when she inherited the title of mage queen.

Mel had been born only months after the war with Varqelle Escar had ended and he lost his throne. Her parents became the king and queen of Harsdown. Mel had known a life of warmth and serenity, and she loved it here. Sometimes she chafed at the weight of her duties, but she also savored the challenge of her future as heir to the Jaguar Throne of Harsdown. Such a startling name, though; jaguars weren’t native to the settled lands but had been brought here by sea merchants long ago. The great black cats stalked the warmer regions of southern Harsdown, rare and deadly, far too cruel a beast to symbolize her family. When she became queen, perhaps she would call it the Sun Throne.

Her mood dimmed. She would become a queen only after her parents died, a thought she never wanted to entertain. They were the suns in her life. For all that they often exasperated her, they were also the two most loving people she had ever known.

She couldn’t imagine her life without them.

No scouts had detected Cobalt’s company as they crossed the desolate northern lands. They had come east from the Misted Cliffs and ventured through remote passes in the Escar Mountains. Then they traversed the icy northern tundra and headed into the Barrens. They started out each morning before dawn. During part of the day, they rested themselves and the horses, both those mounts they rode for travel and the chargers they used in combat or when chasing bandits in the Misted Cliffs. Each evening they headed out again and rode in the fading light, hidden, covert, silent.

Cobalt’s spies had determined that no “mages” defended the Citadel of Rumors. It didn’t surprise him. He had thought long on the subject and listened to the scholars in his grandfather’s royal court. He had weighed their debates about the validity of mage powers and come to the conclusion shared by many of his people. Mages were tricksters.

The country of Aronsdale -- deceptive, treacherous Aronsdale -- claimed only six mages of any significant power: King Jarid and Queen Iris; their cousins, Muller and Chime, the false king and queen of Harsdown; and two elderly mage mistresses. Such claims added mystique to tales of their royal House, but none of them fooled Cobalt. Perhaps they might manage a few minor spells, but he suspected they were adept at herbs and chants rather than magic. Even if they had genuine powers, it didn’t matter. He was resolved to see his father given justice, and he would overcome a thousand witches if necessary.

His army gave the Citadel of Rumors no warning. They came hard and fast out of the dusk, six hundred shadows. The men at the fortress responded with admirable speed, given the surprise, but not soon enough to stop Cobalt’s men from wheeling in their battering ram. Arrows rained on the invaders from the walls above, volley after volley, and then flaming oil, but it was too little and too late. Cobalt’s archers returned the volleys even as his other men assaulted the massive gate. They brought it crashing down as dusk spread its cloak across the Barrens.

Cobalt’s cavalry thundered into the stronghold, hundreds of mounted warriors, and also his lightmen, the riders who carried torches. As they engaged the Aronsdale forces, his troops strode behind them, their war cries ringing off the walls. They broke through to the central building and smashed open its great doors, toppling the stone dragons that had guarded the entrance for centuries. The statues shattered on the flagstones.

Cobalt’s cavalry rode straight into the hall beyond. Pillars filled it, hundreds of them. Each pair of columns rose up over ten feet, then joined in a circular horseshoe arch. The circle shape supposedly focused the power of a mage, if one believed the tales. Glistening mosaics covered the arches, and red crystal spheres hung from their apexes on gold chains. Row after row of arches filled the hall, a forest of columns. Very few of the Aronsdale defenders remained and most seemed to have reached this hall. They faced the invaders, swords in hand, desperate in their final stand.

The battle raged among the pillars, and the exquisite arches toppled. One of the larger columns that held up the ceiling also fell, and a portion of the ceiling collapsed to the floor.

When several of the defenders retreated toward the far side of the hall, Cobalt’s pulse leapt, for he knew they would kill his father rather than let Varqelle escape. He went after them, but a giant warrior on a black horse blocked his way. Fired with battle rage, Cobalt swung his blade through the air in a wide arc. Their swords clanged, and the force of the blow shook through his arm. Although the man had good training and fought well, Cobalt had more than just training. He had spent years leading his men while they tracked, fought, and captured the bandits and killers that made their living in the mountains and borderlands of the Misted Cliffs.

His opponent delayed just a second -- and Cobalt’s sword found its target. His challenger jerked from the thrust through his chest, his mouth opening as if he couldn’t believe it had happened. Cobalt yanked back his sword, and the blade smashed a column covered with gilded mosaics. Broken tiles flew into the air and added their debris to the wreckage on the ground. Dust swirled. The Aronsdale man toppled from his horse and collapsed on the floor, then lay crumpled amidst the shattered tiles.

Breathing hard, his heart pounding, Cobalt looked around. No Aronsdale man remained standing. Cobalt mourned the death and destruction they had wrought here, but the courage of his opponents and the beauty of this citadel had hidden a crime too heinous to allow.

Now that would change.

Cobalt rode deeper into the hall, accompanied by eight of his men. His charger stepped over debris and bodies. He passed under a large arch and into a wide corridor. His spies had mapped the citadel, and he had memorized its layout as he had memorized every fact they gleaned about this place. He had a good guess where he would find the man he sought, for he had read everything ever written about his father and questioned anyone he could find who had known Varqelle. His father was a renowned sovereign, infamous after his failed invasion of Aronsdale. Although Cobalt had never met him, he knew more about Varqelle Escar than most anyone else alive.

It took only moments to reach the Hall of Arcs. King Jarid, the Aronsdale sovereign, gave audiences here when he was at the citadel. Now Jarid was many days’ ride to the south, at Castle Suncroft, the hereditary estate of his family. The hall should have been empty.

Cobalt rode through the great entrance. The Hall of Arcs stretched before him, its walls, ceiling, and floor built from rare violet marble and engraved with interlocking circles. At the far end, six steps led up to a dais, which supported a cushioned bench where Jarid would sit with his queen or advisers during an audience. No one sat there now -- but Varqelle stood in front of it, his head lifted, his eyes dark, his shoulders broad. Black hair swept back from his forehead and fell to his shoulders. The years had added streaks of gray.

Although Cobalt had seen portraits of his parents at the Diamond Palace where his grandfather lived, he had never met his father. But he had no doubt whom he faced. He rode down the hall, aware of silence behind him. His men waited outside. They knew this meeting was only for the father and the son.

As Cobalt neared the dais, he saw Varqelle more clearly, the gaunt face with a strong chin and nose, the dark eyes and brows, the high cheekbones of his royal heritage. Lines creased his face. He wore a dark gray tunic and leggings tucked into black boots, and a gray cape. A warrior’s sword with a massive hilt hung from his leather belt. Cobalt knew then that he and his men weren’t the only ones who had killed today; Varqelle’s captors would never have willingly allowed the deposed king such a weapon. If they had tried to kill Varqelle, as Cobalt feared, then they had died instead.

Varqelle watched him with a dark, unreadable gaze. Sweat broke out on Cobalt’s forehead. Would his father recognize him? Varqelle had no way to know who had attacked; neither Cobalt nor his spies had managed to send a warning. Varqelle had never known his son. Dancer, his queen, had deserted him only months after Cobalt’s birth and fled with her child back to the Misted Cliffs. Cobalt had been fifteen by the time Varqelle had built up his army enough for an invasion, but his father still hadn’t had sufficient force to take on the Misted Cliffs. Dancer believed Varqelle had attacked Aronsdale because he perceived it as the weakest country among the settled lands, that when his army was strong enough, he would march on her country. Someday Varqelle would have come for his heir. Instead he had lost his throne and his freedom -- until now.

Tonight the son came for the father.

Cobalt reined in before the dais, then dismounted and dropped the reins. He knew this horse enough to trust that it wouldn’t desert him within these walls.

Then he walked to his father.

Varqelle watched him with no emotion on his ascetic face. His hand rested on the hilt of his sword. Cobalt kept his arms at his sides as he climbed the dais. At the top, he was four steps away from Varqelle. He stood a head taller even than his father, who had a height greater than most men. It was hard for Cobalt to imagine his pale, delicate mother as queen to this man. The years had weathered Varqelle and added to his aura of power. He would crush those he deemed weaker than himself.

Varqelle said, “Well done, my son.”

Cobalt’s breath stopped. The silence of the citadel seemed to roar in his ears. His father knew him.

Cobalt had anticipated this moment for decades. He knew Varqelle’s notorious reputation, knew his mother’s fear of her husband, knew his grandfather’s distrust. But Varqelle was the only father Cobalt would ever have, and in the parched emotional fields of his life, his need to know this man had become a compelling force in his life.

Cobalt went down on one knee, folding his immense frame before his sire. Then he said the phrase he had practiced in his mind a thousand times, since he had been old enough to long for a father.

“I pledge to you my loyalty,” Cobalt said.

“I accept.” The king’s voice rumbled. “Rise, Cobalt.”

He stood, and a crystalline power seemed to fill him, as if the cold northern air seared his lungs and heart clean of emotional debris he had accumulated over the decades. He felt strong.

“I have many men,” Cobalt said. “We will take you to the Misted Cliffs. King Stonebreaker offers sanctuary.”

Varqelle’s gaze darkened. “Why? He has no love for me.”

Cobalt spoke with suppressed bitterness. “Grandfather has no love for anyone.” It had taken him years to convince the king of the Misted Cliffs that Varqelle would be of more use to him free than in prison. “He also has no male heir -- except me. If you regain your crown, then someday I will inherit the thrones of both the Misted Cliffs and Harsdown. What matters to Grandfather is that the power of his house will double.”

Varqelle’s eyes glinted. “As will mine.”

“Yes.” The king paused. “And your mother?”

Unease stirred in Cobalt, the one hesitation that had plagued him through his years of planning. He knew the rumors, that his mother had fled her husband’s brutality. Dancer had never told him what happened, despite his many questions. But neither had she tried to stop him from following his drive to know his father.

“She is well,” Cobalt said. “I would see that she remains that way.”

Copyright © 2005 Catherine Asaro

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 22 )
Rating Distribution

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(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2013

    Willowpelt

    Ok

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    Stay away

    This dude is a cat rapist ^^

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2012

    Greystorm

    Dont listen to her ugly a s s. Ive hungout wit her in rl and she ugly and she like 8. She anoying af too

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2012

    Kitty Cat

    Can some1 help me with my training (a he cat)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2012

    Blue ear to everyone

    I have moved my services to rocks result one

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 4, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Jennifer Wardrip - Personal Read

    Romantic fantasy is one of my favorite genres, and reading Catherine Asaro's THE MISTED CLIFFS, I was reminded of the reason why. Deposed kings, sword and sorcery, magic and spells, kings and queens, dark-hearted rulers and self-sacrificing princesses, all combine to make this story one of the best. <BR/><BR/>For Princess Melody Dawnfield, being the daughter of the current king of Harsdown means more than looking pretty and watching men vie for her hand in marriage. Trained as a mage and excellent swordsmen, Mel is her parents' pride and joy. She also feels so deeply for her town, and the adjoining towns of Aronsdale and Misted Cliffs, that she agrees to marry a man feared far and wide to save her people from the threat of war. <BR/><BR/>Cobalt the Dark is a man at war within himself. His half-crazy mother and terror-inducing grandfather raised him, and hold much of the blame for his dark heart. When Cobalt learns that his father, Varquelle, isn't dead as he once thought, but imprisoned, he risks his own life to rescue the deposed king. Now that the former king is free, however, war looms on the horizon. Although tortured at heart and feeling that war is the only answer, Cobalt agrees to marry Princess Melody in the hopes that the war, although undoubtedly inevitable, can at least be put off. <BR/><BR/>While much of the kingdom feels that Cobalt is evil, Mel learns that he's only troubled by his own inner demons and the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that stand before him. Melody, as well, is not what her husband expected. Not only is she powerful in her own right, but her love and warm heart begin to thaw something within him that he thought was long dead and buried. <BR/><BR/>THE MISTED CLIFFS is Ms. Asaro at her writing best. A tried and true formula of a haunted hero and a warm-hearted heroine, combined with the magic of a kingdom you'll want to visit again and again, make this book a true winner. I highly recommend that you read THE CHARMED SPHERE, her previous LUNA release, as well as THE MISTED CLIFFS. They are both stand alone books, but THE CHARMED SPHERE will delve you into the kingdom of Aronsdale , which plays a supporting role in this current book. I don't yet know the title of the third book in the trilogy, but no doubt it will bring us even deeper into this world where love and magic are intertwined.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2007

    Originally Posted on Romance Junkies

    Romantic fantasy is one of my favorite genres, and reading Catherine Asaro's THE MISTED CLIFFS, I was reminded of the reason why. Deposed kings, sword and sorcery, magic and spells, kings and queens, dark-hearted rulers and self-sacrificing princesses, all combine to make this story one of the best. For Princess Melody Dawnfield, being the daughter of the current king of Harsdown means more than looking pretty and watching men vie for her hand in marriage. Trained as a mage and excellent swordsmen, Mel is her parents' pride and joy. She also feels so deeply for her town, and the adjoining towns of Aronsdale and Misted Cliffs, that she agrees to marry a man feared far and wide to save her people from the threat of war. Cobalt the Dark is a man at war within himself. His half-crazy mother and terror-inducing grandfather raised him, and hold much of the blame for his dark heart. When Cobalt learns that his father, Varquelle, isn't dead as he once thought, but imprisoned, he risks his own life to rescue the deposed king. Now that the former king is free, however, war looms on the horizon. Although tortured at heart and feeling that war is the only answer, Cobalt agrees to marry Princess Melody in the hopes that the war, although undoubtedly inevitable, can at least be put off. While much of the kingdom feels that Cobalt is evil, Mel learns that he's only troubled by his own inner demons and the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that stand before him. Melody, as well, is not what her husband expected. Not only is she powerful in her own right, but her love and warm heart begin to thaw something within him that he thought was long dead and buried. THE MISTED CLIFFS is Ms. Asaro at her writing best. A tried and true formula of a haunted hero and a warm-hearted heroine, combined with the magic of a kingdom you'll want to visit again and again, make this book a true winner. I highly recommend that you read THE CHARMED SPHERE, her previous LUNA release, as well as THE MISTED CLIFFS. They are both stand alone books, but THE CHARMED SPHERE will delve you into the kingdom of Aronsdale , which plays a supporting role in this current book. I don't yet know the title of the third book in the trilogy, but no doubt it will bring us even deeper into this world where love and magic are intertwined.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2007

    Truly a Magical Love story

    I could read it over and over and it would still be as exciting,touching,and romantic as ever. You won't be able to put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2005

    It's Good But Nothing Compared To The First Book

    I love romance novels with battle but this was just hard to get into. I couldn't relate to any of the charactors and my favorite from the first book, Chime, had probably two lines in the book. But I will give the book credit because it is written wonderfully and isn't lacking in plot, nor getting into too much detail. The author keeps you guessing and leaves you with a tear in your eye. But I will say if your more of the independent type of woman you can't relate to the main charactor, for she stays with a man she knows could kill hundreds of people and herself, yet she still stays. Yeah, must be really in love or really insane. I hope to see a third book because I still love the world and the powers of the mages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2005

    Courtesy of Romance Junkies

    Romantic fantasy is one of my favorite genres, and reading Catherine Asaro¿s THE MISTED CLIFFS, I was reminded of the reason why. Deposed kings, sword and sorcery, magic and spells, kings and queens, dark-hearted rulers and self-sacrificing princesses, all combine to make this story one of the best. For Princess Melody Dawnfield, being the daughter of the current king of Harsdown means more than looking pretty and watching men vie for her hand in marriage. Trained as a mage and excellent swordsmen, Mel is her parents¿ pride and joy. She also feels so deeply for her town, and the adjoining towns of Aronsdale and Misted Cliffs, that she agrees to marry a man feared far and wide to save her people from the threat of war. Cobalt the Dark is a man at war within himself. His half-crazy mother and terror-inducing grandfather raised him, and hold much of the blame for his dark heart. When Cobalt learns that his father, Varquelle, isn¿t dead as he once thought, but imprisoned, he risks his own life to rescue the deposed king. Now that the former king is free, however, war looms on the horizon. Although tortured at heart and feeling that war is the only answer, Cobalt agrees to marry Princess Melody in the hopes that the war, although undoubtedly inevitable, can at least be put off. While much of the kingdom feels that Cobalt is evil, Mel learns that he¿s only troubled by his own inner demons and the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that stand before him. Melody, as well, is not what her husband expected. Not only is she powerful in her own right, but her love and warm heart begin to thaw something within him that he thought was long dead and buried. THE MISTED CLIFFS is Ms. Asaro at her writing best. A tried and true formula of a haunted hero and a warm-hearted heroine, combined with the magic of a kingdom you¿ll want to visit again and again, make this book a true winner. I highly recommend that you read THE CHARMED SPHERE, her previous LUNA release, as well as THE MISTED CLIFFS. They are both stand alone books, but THE CHARMED SPHERE will delve you into the kingdom of Aronsdale, which plays a supporting role in this current book. I don¿t yet know the title of the third book in the trilogy, but no doubt it will bring us even deeper into this world where love and magic are intertwined.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2005

    The Misted Cliffs

    To prevent war, a beautiful princess must go against her heart's love and marry a prince known for being incapable of love. Although Mel Dawnfield does not love Prince Cobalt, she willingly weds him, only to discover that while in modern terms, he could use some counseling because he has repressed emotions and enough issues to fill a magazine shop, he can love. Therefore, Mel wages her own search and rescue mission for her husband's soul, setting her in an undeclared war with his father and grandfather, one that could cost her everything dear to her. .......................... This fairy tale for adults treads familiar ground. Though most readers are more aware of this author for her futuristic science fiction, her fantasy surpasses her skills in the other genre.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A great romantic fantasy

    Verquelle was the King of Harsdown but when he was defeated in battle to annex the Kingdom of Aronsdale, the monarch vanquished him to a place where he has been imprisoned for eighteen years. King Muller and Queen Chime are the rulers of Harsdown and the country has flourished under their reign. The heir is Princess Melody, a bright beautiful and loving person who is adored by her subjects.............. Verquelle¿s son Cobalt the Dark rescues his father and brings him to his home the Castle of the Clouds. Cobalt was raised by a sadistic grandfather and a distant mother but his newfound father gives him the approval he needs. Both his grandfather and his father want to go to war with Harsdown so Verquelle can reclaim his throne but Cobalt convinces them that he should marry the heir and their offspring will sit on the throne. Melody has no choice but to agree to this arrangement as she doesn¿t want her country to go to war but she concludes that Cobalt is not evil but a person deprived of kindness and affection. He decides to conquer two countries that border Aronsdale using his grandfather¿s troops and his father¿s knowledge of war. Melody hopes that her love will temper his dark side so that he doesn¿t become a tyrant others fears................ Catherine Asaro has written a beautiful and vividly descriptive tale that is a cross between a romantic fantasy and a swords and sorcery tale. The heroine is a bright lodestar that attracts her dark prince who is a tragic figure in the tradition of Heathcliffe. Hearts will go out to the beleaguered anti hero who seeks love and acceptance. Catherine Asaro is one of the reigning queens of brilliant romantic fantasy................. Harriet Klausner

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