“I don't hug."
--Alex Lidell, The Cadet of Tildor
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Dial, 408 pages
Publication Date: January 10th, 2013
Source: Borrowed from Library
Goodness me, do I love a good high fantasy novel. The sword fighting, high risk situations and when ya throw some magic in there? It is just wonderful. The Cadet of Tildor has all these aspects and more. Renee, our main character, is a well-bred lady who is one of the only girls left at the elite Academy that trains only the best; these students then go on to being Servants of the Crown, the most esteemed and respected soldiers in the land. This school is no joke. Renee is actually quite close to getting kicked out due to her physical performance. Add in a new professor who just happens to be the leader of the most infamous squadron in the all the land? Well...things are not easy for Renee right now. Not to mention the land is overflowing with two rival organized crime families. There is a lot of drama going on here and in the middle, Renee is trying to keep her head above water and graduate.
Thus begins our story. We are in a high fantasy world here people and it is every bit as amazing as you can imagine. I love the feel of the Academy. The training, the sense of impending urgency to protect the new and very young King. Renee is all about this. She wants nothing more than to serve her country and protect the Crown. I adored her character. She is so strong and unrelenting in her tasks. She never gives up. And what I love even more than that? She is not perfect. She makes mistakes. She has doubts in her abilities. This makes her so real to me. And she wears her heart on her sleeve and would do anything to protect the people she cares about.
The sidekick in this story is Alec, the best friend. I really liked Alec. He is probably the only male best friend to the heroine that didn't annoy the hell out of me. Usually the guy best friend (always in love with the girl) is so overbearing and annoying. Alec is not like this at all. He is just a steady presence besides her for most of the book. Sasha is her roommate, cousin to the King. We don't see a lot of her but I just know I like her already. I am really hoping we get more of her character in the next book.
And then we have Savoy. Like I said to Alexa and Daisy, there is just something about a guy with a sword...And one that leads the most elite warriors? Sexy, much? Seriously, this characters is a man. Rugged, rough around the edges, closed off, and hardened by life, he is a complex character for sure. He, like Renee, will do anything and everything for those he cares about. His relationship with his brother is so endearing and absolutely heart-warming. Like melts my heart to a puddle...mixed with my drool. He's just sexy. Sorry not sorry. I cannot WAIT to get my hands on more of him in future books.
The story also has magic, like I mentioned before. They're called mages and they can wield the life force of humans to heal them...or do not so nice things. Per law, all those who are shown to have this gift have to register and become property of the Crown pretty much. Not the best situation. I really liked how unique this concept of human rights was explored here. We don't see this depth of theme a lot in YA and it was completely welcomed by me. No need to water down the depravity of it, this is real life stuff. The argument to whether this is a good idea for the country can be discussed both ways. I am really interested to see where this idea goes in future books.
The story itself is fantastic. There are so many players in this realm and the action that stems from their dealings, you have no idea who to trust or believe. It is definitely fast-paced and I have to say, I super appreciated the writing in that we didn't stall and sit around a campfire in the woods for days on end. Travel is slow, we get it, but Lidell cut out the middle man and gave us the action. This is a really great fantasy novel, for those who already love YA you will fall in love and for those not so much into fantasy, I think you would like it, too. There isn't a lot of crazy lingo or terms to grasp so it is a great starting point.