My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Young Meliara, made a countess by her father's death, begins a war to defend her people from a greedy king - a war she cannot win.
Sigh. You can't go home again. I remember reading this book avidly as a teenager. I was initially attracted to it because of the cover: not only is the girl there beautiful, but she looks incredibly tough because of her black eye and a sword slung over one shoulder. And Meliara is tough, but she's a bit of a one-note character, hardly the equal of Katniss.
In fact, most parts of this book feel flat. The plotting of the war and the fantasy setting are barely sketched in, and some of the conversations are unbelievable. (The Hill Folk seem tacked-on instead of integral to the story, despite motivating a civil war.) Meliara is captured by a surprisingly capable marquis and spends most of the book trying to escape the clutches of her enemies. (Which leads to her spending a lot of time unconscious - I do remember that from my first reading.) Her antagonist, the sexy Marquis, is like a junior version of a Heyer romantic lead: a fop who uses his reputation to conceal his true cunning
That said, the story moves quickly and Meliara is a likable protagonist. In summary: a pleasant way to pass an afternoon but probably not a book to keep rereading into adulthood. Lesson learned.