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The Cadet of Tildor

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Tamora Pierce meets George R. R. Martin in this smart, political, medieval fantasy-thriller.

There is a new king on the throne of Tildor. Currents of political unrest sweep the country as two warring crime families seek power, angling to exploit the young Crown's inexperience. At the Academy of Tildor, the training ground for elite soldiers, Cadet Renee de Winter struggles to keep up with her male peers. But when her mentor, a notorious commander recalled from active duty to teach at the Academy, is kidnapped to fight in illegal gladiator games, Renee and her best friend Alec find themselves thrust into a world rife with crime, sorting through a maze of political intrigue, and struggling to resolve what they want, what is legal, and what is right.

408 pages, Hardcover

First published January 10, 2013

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About the author

Alex Lidell

49 books1,574 followers
Alex Lidell is the Amazon Breakout Novel Awards finalist author of THE CADET OF TILDOR (Penguin) and several Amazon Top 100 Kindle Bestsellers, including the POWER OF FIVE romance series. She is an avid horseback rider who believes in eating dessert first. She writes as both Alex Lidell and A.L. Lidell.

Join Alex's newsletter for news, bonus content and sneak peeks: https://links.alexlidell.com/News

Find out more on Alex's website: www.alexlidell.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 290 reviews
Profile Image for Rachel E. Carter.
Author 9 books3,496 followers
January 2, 2018
Buddy read with my two Tamora Pierce BFF's (Monica & Meg): 2/13 - 2/15/15.

I only wish there had been a bit of romance to relieve all that tension between two certain characters. I would recommend to fans of Tamora Pierce, Divergent, or Mulan.

Please excuse the excessive use of Mulan GIF’s <3

PROS: Lots of awesome training to the limits, medieval times, magic, and a moment of Gladiator-type fighting. The book was mostly fast-paced and easy to follow, and the protagonist was headstrong and tough as nails (or she tried to be).


The entire book I was getting this:


And this:


By the end all I wanted to do was pull Savoy to the side and tell him he was an idiot.


Someone who goes into this book with absolutely zero desire for romance could definitely give this five stars. The writing style & the plot line was very similar to The Song of the Lioness Quartet. That is to say, medieval kick-butt action. Renee is the type of heroine you can root for –flawed and sassy and really everything I look for in a protagonist: pretty without being too pretty, headstrong without being a brat, mortal –like the rest of us. I didn’t care for the side characters so much (liked Sasha but we hardly saw her, and hated Alec because he was friends with that little brat boy Joffrey Lannister Jasper), but I loved Seaborn & Savoy…


Oh, yes, Savoy.


Savoy played one of my favorite stereotypes with flare. Basically Shang from Mulan & Four from Divergent, or a younger version Lord Wyldon, if you would, from Tamora Pierce’s First Test. Don’t judge, I like the “no pain, no gain” mentality and teachers that push their students to their absolute limits –I would die in real life, of course, but I love to read about it!

And let’s talk about Seaborn:


I loved his relationship with Savoy. I couldn’t quite think of him as the same age, though. I kept thinking I was reading about Myles of Olau (Alanna books), his dialogue was a bit too wise for his years. But I adored him because he kind of played a fatherly-figure to Renee and that brought back Alanna-Myles feels all over again.

I guess when I read a book that mentions Tamora Pierce in its blurb all I can do is find similarities all over the place… But that made me happy. Because I can never get enough Tamora (if you know me this hardly comes as a surprise)! I had a couple small issues with this book in regards to plot/logic but overall I enjoyed it and would have no trouble recommending it to a friend.

Now onto that ending? WHY MUST YOU BE SO CRUEL???




I got it. It was a total tribute to Tamora Pierce, the whole “strong female is going to lead an army one day” liner was perfect. It was!

“That one, Cory, will one day command us all.”


But excuse me while I go watch a chick flick to get my girly happily ever after.


Because I still wanted this:

Just one measly little kiss, one measly little kiss to satisfy all that tension & the girly part of me that needs romance (especially when you know the two characters have chemistry and there is no sequel).



That's better;P
Profile Image for Leeanna.
538 reviews92 followers
January 4, 2013
I’m going to start this review off in an unusual way: I’m going to list all the things that aren’t in The Cadet of Tildor.

— Love triangles.
— Romance.
— Swooning girls.
— Weak characters.
— “I’m so special, everything is going to go just my way” heroine.

Instead, what do we have?
♥ A kick ass main character named Renee.
♥ Fighting. Lots of fighting.
♥ A politically heavy storyline.
♥ An engaging cast of side characters.

If you’ve read any of my reviews, you know that I was jumping up and down for joy after making those lists. The Cadet of Tildor is full of things I want in books, and it more than delivered on my excitement. I walked around with my nose in this book for a whole day, until I finished it. I even tried to paint my nails while reading, which didn’t really work. (The nails waited until after I finished).

I loved Renee. On notice that she may be cut from the Academy because she’s not a strong enough fighter, she pours all her energy into trying to become stronger. On the way, she makes some stupid mistakes, and while characters making stupid mistakes usually bothers me, here, Renee learned from them. And in her situation, I probably would have done the same thing. I empathized with Renee’s struggle to succeed in a male-dominated world, and to follow her dreams.

The Cadet of Tildor is dark, gritty fantasy for the young adult audience. Although Renee is sixteen, she acts beyond her age, and I think this book would also appeal to older readers.

Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out who you’re supposed to like and who you’re supposed to hate. Renee starts out almost hero-worshipping Commander Savoy, the leader of one of the most successful fighting units. But he turns out to be, well, sort of a jerk, and Renee alternates beyond thinking that he’s helping her and that he’s trying to break her.

The Cadet of Tildor isn’t told solely from Renee’s point of view, which helps us get into the other character’s heads, particularly Savoy, and get a bigger picture of the story. At the heart of it is loyalty, and doing what is legally right versus doing what is morally right.

Think about this. In Tildor, mages are required to submit to registration. If they do not, they are arrested and executed. If, as a cadet, you came across an unregistered mage, say one who is the Healer for their village, responsible for the health of everyone in that village, would you arrest them or let them go? I’m using an assignment of Renee’s, but it gives a great picture of the moral dilemmas Renee struggles through during the book.

I enjoyed thinking through those moral struggles myself, and learning along with Renee that everything isn’t black and white. Over the course of The Cadet of Tildor Renee grows immensely, as do the other characters. Every character, from Renee’s best friend to a thug that attacks her on the street has their own personality and their own backstory, and it all comes together richly to make a great book.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

See more of my reviews:
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,163 followers
February 11, 2013
I suppose, in many ways, I didn't give The Cadet of Tildor much of a chance. I painstakingly read through the first quarter of this book before giving into my desire to skim the pages until I was nearly half-way through the novel and began to realize I was well and truly wasting my time. The Cadet of Tildor is not a bad novel, but it just wasn't one for me. As a high fantasy junkie who has grown up reading Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Tamora Pierce, Kristin Cashore, and Megan Whalen Turner, Alex Lidell falls seriously short of other fantasy writers of this age.

The Cadet of Tildor starts out strongly enough, introducing us to a fierce and strong-willed protagonist, Renee. While I instantly admired her for standing up to her father and willing to follow her dreams of completing her training as a Cadet, despite the fact that she was up against stronger men, I was unable to feel much of a connection with her as the novel wore on. From the onset, her friends were flat and two-dimensional and the revered trainer seemed to lack personality as well. Or, perhaps, they didn't lack personality and it was just the fact that they were so like every other fantasy character out there that I was unimpressed. The Cadet of Tildor is excruciatingly unoriginal and, upon skipping to the end, I can already inform you that its last line is the exact same last line from Turner's King of Attolia, only without a complex situation and three novels to back it up.

In addition to my lack of feeling for the characters, I simply felt very underwhelmed. Nothing much happens during the beginning and neither are the characters or world set up in a manner I found to be interesting. In fact, I virtually have no grasp of this world or its politics whatsoever. Ultimately, Lidell's debut is a disappointment for me simply because I go into fantasy expecting more from it and this one just didn't live up. Unlike the contemporary genre, which often lets me down and I've come to accept as a hit-or-miss genre for me, fantasy usually never fails to amaze me, but the recent revival of YA Fantasy certainly has.

For newcomers into fantasy or those of you who are unfamiliar with the works of Megan Whalen Turner or Tamora Pierce, The Cadet of Tildor is likely to take your breath away. It is extremely well-written and the words flow smoothly from the page, proving that Lidell can, indeed, write. Yet, when compared to other fantasy works, it falls short of a masterpiece by far. Of course, the novel may drastically improve, but as I already feel nothing for the characters, I sincerely doubt I'll enjoy this one too much more.

You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings.
Profile Image for Julie.
195 reviews463 followers
September 2, 2012
Loved, loved, absolutely loved this book! Fans of GRACELING will want this book in their hands. Teachers will want to read and recommend this book. Librarians, put this book on your shelf and pimp it out. I wish I were still in the classroom to read it out loud to my students, I loved this book that much.

The writing is so smooth and well crafted I was absorbed in this story for one day reading from beginning to end. I completely invested in the characters: the young, courageous heroine Renee, the closed, brooding, handsome and skilled Commander Savoy, Diam and his dog, Alec and his secrets, the criminal Lord Palan, the ruthless Vipers, the rock and a hard place Den, oh the list could go on. The 'good' guys and 'bad' guys kept me guessing, the plot utterly captivating with page turning madness. Twists that thicken the plot and blur the lines of how you think about people. These characters are multi-faceted in that one can see all points of view, forcing you to consider who is really 'good' and who is really 'bad.' The action scenes are well written and easy to mentally picture, not to mention the reader phantom pains from their wounds. Sword fighting and old style combat at its finest here. There is no part of this story that I can find fault other than I have a long wait for the sequel.

This is the debut novel by Alex Lidell and she is now on my list of authors to watch making THE CADET OF TILDOR one of my new all-time, classic favorites.

Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews1,984 followers
January 10, 2013
Original review published on The Book Smugglers

It is almost impossible to approach The Cadet of Tildor without sky-high expectations as it has been touted as a meeting of heavy-weight Fantasists Tamora Pierce and George R. R. Martin. To be honest, those expectations are not exactly fair considering this is a debut novel and as such appropriate adjustments are necessary – once this is done The Cadet of Tildor becomes a solid, enjoyable-if-flawed YA Fantasy.

Renee de Winter is a cadet at the Academy of Tildor, the training academy for elite soldiers that serve and protect the kingdom. As the story opens, Renee is given an ultimatum by her father: either she quits the Academy to live a life more appropriate for a girl or be banished from their household. Renee decides to follow her dream to serve her kingdom and to carry on at the Academy, despite all the hardships she faces there: as a woman, Renees finds herself constantly struggling to keep up with her male peers on the more physical aspects of her training. But giving up is not an option and when Commander Korish Savoy – a famous officer and her idol – joins the Academy as a teacher, she hopes he will help her achieve the excellence she needs to remain a cadet.

Savoy is not happy with his new instructions – which come from the top – as he is pulled from active duty to pamper kids in training, especially with Tildor in the midst of political turmoil with a new king on the throne, two criminal families vying for power and a threat from mages looming in the horizon. When Savoy’s little brother is kidnapped, Renee and her best friend Alec quit everything to go after the boy and join Savoy on his search.

And this doesn’t even begin to cover The Cadet of Tildor, a book so eventful that at one point Savoy is kidnapped and enslaved to become a gladiator. Yes, for reals. The truth is that the plot is extremely convoluted with many storylines happening and a variety of threads and secondary characters that unfortunately are as not as fleshed up as they should/could have been. There is enough juice here for an entire trilogy (which could have been awesome) and there is a lot that is packed in on just 400 pages resulting on underdeveloped storylines. Add to that an often stilted fake-medieval dialogue and the fact that Super!Soldier! Savoy (who shares the narrative PoV with Renee) does not sound like a 23 year-old at all [1. It also doesn’t sound like it would be possible for such a young man to be at such high level within the army already even considering how awesome the Academy is supposed to be and I often wondered if Savoy was written as a much older character to begin with and his age was brought down to make it more compatible with YA and with a possible romantic storyline with Renee) and we have serious problems overall.

My misgivings out of the way, there is actually a lot that is pretty awesome about the book.

Renee for example, is an incredibly interesting and complex protagonist and her arc is pretty engaging from start to finish. Her struggles in the Academy as a woman is one that I found very well done, depicting her very real problems with her physical weakness which she worked at continuously and managed to overcome by both increasing her training hours and by addressing it in more creative ways. I loved that she never becomes Super!Strong! but that she learned to train more, to dedicate the hours it takes to become a skilled fighter, to fight with her own physical abilities and to use weapons that suited her. I wish I had seen more female characters going through the same thing at the Academy so that I wouldn’t think that Renee was such an exception but there were extremely capable women in leading roles in the army (meaning that they have been through training and made it). Above all I loved her emotional arc: Renee starts out the book as a rigid, inflexible character that made very serious mistakes in terms of her actions and her behaviour. As a character she is allowed to be fallible and I loved that complexity. As such she suffers the consequences of her actions and eventually learns from them to become a more flexible person that thinks before acting.

This dichotomy of flexible vs inflexible is actually a big theme in the book overall as the chaotic political background turns out to be not as rigidly black and white (or good and evil) as Renee thought. As it turns out, in life and in politics, it is all about adapting.

I also loved Renee’s relationship with Savoy – it was hero-worship and attraction to begin with then developing into friendship and camaraderie. The fact that theirs is a mentor-student relationship and that Renee is 16 to Savoy’s 23, removes any potential romantic storyline from the picture (at least for now) and I am happy that the storyline never took them there (although there is definitely potential for this to change at some point in the future once they become equals).

In spite of my misgivings, there is a lot to recommend here especially if you like Fantasy with well-written, complex female protagonists. I’d definitely go back for seconds – heck, I want a sequel.
Profile Image for Alexa.
2,149 reviews11.3k followers
December 3, 2015
(Originally posted on the blog)

This is one of those instances (and they happen to fairly often) where I truly, deeply loved a book so much that I'm afraid that my review will not be able to do it justice. The Cadet of Tildor reminded me of exactly why I love reading fantasy. When an author creates an world and does it well, I love it. When an author brings to life a character in a way that makes it feel as if they've always existed, I love it. When fantastical elements, like magic and swords and wars and so on, are brought together into a story rife with intrigue and thoughtful conflict, I love it. In short, this book was written precisely for readers like me!

This book reminds me of the fantasy novels I used to read, back before I started blogging. In particular, it reminded me of the Song of the Lioness series crossed with the Protector of the Small series (both by Tamora Pierce and both fantastic, in case you were wondering) - there's the element of a girl attempting to do something typically done by a boy, and the element of a kingdom or country being torn apart by civil conflicts. There may be similar elements, but the author has certainly managed to create a lore all her own, and one that's incredibly captivating.

The world that was described in this book is fascinating, mostly because there are such divisions between all these groups of people. There's three main groups: the Family (who control the distribution of veesi, which is an illegal drug, and require payment for protection), the Vipers (who are a bit more inclined to violence and brutality and fight to the death as a culture) and the Crown (who is basically King Lysian, who rules over the kingdom and tries to broker peace and justice in the midst of these two groups). With each group acting upon its own particular interests, it's not a surprise that there's conflict - and quite a lot of conflict - within the pages of this book.

Renee, however, belongs to another group of people entirely as a student at the Academy. I love Renee. She's stubborn and spirited, but she's also kind and loyal and trustworthy. I loved that she really wanted to prove that she could accomplish her goal of becoming a Servant of the Crown, even if that pitted her against males who were probably bigger and stronger than she was. It was easy for me to like her because she was not portrayed as someone perfect, or someone magically capable of doing the things that the boys could. She had to work hard towards reaching her goal. I admired the fact that she didn't let naysayers stop her - she just kept on going and going and going.

And don't get me started on how much I adore Korish Savoy! He's the commander referred to in the summary, so it shouldn't surprise you much to hear me say that he's supremely good at what he does, and is an expert at harnessing strength and strategy. I loved that right alongside his gruff personality and unusual methods of teaching, he's also got a soft heart, an unwavering loyalty and a hidden side to him that we only really learn the origins of later on. His parts were always fun for me to read, because he's just so doggedly determined to be brash and sarcastic and show-no-fear to everyone (when really he's a whole lot more than that).

Now that you've met my two favorite characters, I will go out on a limb and say that the author needs to make magic happen between them. Though there were really no obvious romantic overtones in their relationship and the age gap would possibly present a bit of a problem, I seriously kept reading too much into various moments between them. The connection they form, first as teacher-student and then as friends, is so compelling. As a reader, I logically knew that nothing would happen but I kept wanting something to happen. There's some unresolved business there and I really think that it can turn into something more. I'm definitely not the only one who feels like this, as evidenced by April's review.

Clearly, this is a book that I can fawn over, as evidenced by the paragraphs above. I dove into the world of Tildor and finished this book feeling the sweet satisfaction of a good conclusion... while also having the sneaking feeling that there's so much more in store for these characters. This debut is a wonderful reminder of all the things I love about fantasy novels, and I look forward to seeing what happens next. I highly recommend The Cadet of Tildor as one of my favorite fantasy debuts of this year.
Profile Image for Tanja (Tanychy).
588 reviews252 followers
January 10, 2013
Review is also posted at Ja čitam, a ti?

I've said it once but I believe that winter is perfect time for reading fantasy. At least it is for me. I love fantasy but I must admit I could enjoy it better when I was younger. Still there are books that surprise me.

Cadet of Tildor is the book I couldn't wait to read. I requested it the same day it was up on the NetGalley and I've read it slowly so I could enjoy it. To tell you more about the book. Tildor has a new king and that's the opportunity for all criminals and people to attack the kingdom cause the king is very young. But there are people ready to stop that. They are students of Academy of Tildor. It's a school for elite soldiers and it's mostly school for boys. Only Renee de Winter has a goal. She wants to become one of the soldiers. It won't be easy for her for maintain in a male world. Especially when her mentor thinks that that's not a job for her. He couldn't even dream what would happen and how their life would get so complicated.

It took me some time to get into this story cause the beginning was slower. Later I realized that there is a point in that. To understand Renee we first had to understand her relationship with her father. At the end you get a book full of action and fantasy, but also emotions. My rating is 4.5 stars but as I don't have half starts.
Profile Image for Lisseth (Read-a-holicZ).
179 reviews69 followers
January 10, 2013
**Originally on Read-A-holicZ, HERE!**

WOAH, Where to begin?! This was one of my most anticipated books of 2013, I expected fantasy, action, fierceness and overall greatness. But what i got was MORE than i ever expected!! I completely devoured this book & literally stayed up until my eyes closed in sleep.

I just want to say that the world that Alex Lidell has created is one of the best I've ever read about. From the very first page your immersed in the world & underlings of Tildor. Yes, there is a ruling king but there are also 2 opponent forces in Tilder; the Family & the Vipers. I very much liked the controlled Atham and the Vipers's home, Catar. Both in Tildor and yet both very different. Another thing is there are fighter's like Renee & Mage's beings with the power to control & heal people through there life energy. (pretty scary & cool!) The world makes me both intrigued and captivated.

One of the things that I loved about the Cadet of Tildor was that it wasn't just Renee's POV but had the POV's of both Savoy (commander of an elite Tildor force) and Alec (Renee's cadet friend). That really made me connect to the characters and the story so much more, because we got a wider view of the story.

Each character had there secret's and just like a double edged sword could turn from one way to another. They could be your best friend one minute but then a secret is leaked and they become your enemy. I liked uncovering each character and what they each had to lose and gain in Tildor. I must say that Savoy & his brother Diam were my FAVORITE characters. Savoy seems tough as steel but he has his reason's and he really grows on you. He suffered a lot and might seem like an ass but he's really not, much :P Renee too, she was a girl cadet fighting to stay in the Academy but proved to be fierce & cunning once the story moves on. There are a lot of characters that WILL SURPRISE YOU.

What I liked about the plot was that you never knew what was going to happen just like with the characters. It never lacked action & had a lot of twists. I think that kept me so captivated by the story. Especially when a certain hot commander gives his life for his brother, sorry but there were really intense parts that MADE FEEL so MANY EMOTIONS. I cried, i felt the betrayals, I felt the frustration, the anger, the relief, I laughed, I smiled right along with the characters.

We start at the academy and end right back there but SO MANY things have happened that it feels SO different than the start. AH!!!! Can i just say that that ending was both great and heart wrenching. There is a romance but it's very subtle and sweet yet at times stressing . I think i had a few tears there at the end. I SO NEED MORE!!! @_@

Overall, this was an EPICLY great fantasy book that captured me and still has me in it's clutches. It went above what i was expecting! I HIGHLY recommend you pick this As soon as it's available! 5/5 AMAZING STARS!
Profile Image for Beth.
1,144 reviews113 followers
February 25, 2013
The problems with The Cadet of Tildor begin with the blurb on the book's cover: Should she follow the law - or follow her instincts?

Well, now, that should be a no-brainer, especially for someone who's read Tamora Pierce. You follow the law, and if the law's bad, then you fix the law, and you follow it. The way the blurb is phrased suggests that the protagonist's instincts are better than the law, and to me, that's about two steps away from anarchy. After all, if you let one person follow her instincts - in essence making her own law - how is it fair that only she's allowed to do so?

In terms of the novel's actual content: the country is falling apart. There's a young new king and two warring crime syndicates - the Family and the Vipers. Luckily for the king, he has the Academy, which is the training grounds for an elite military service. Renee de Winter is a cadet in Tildor - a cadet on probation, because she isn't strong enough to keep up with the men. And this year, they have a new trainer, the war hero Savoy. His main lesson? There's no "fair" in combat - there's only not getting killed.

Savoy's point is justified in combat: if you're fighting the bad guys, odds are they won't play by the rules. The problem is that apparently there are no rules, not even in the academy. Cadet de Winter, facing dismissal from the Academy, wins her sparring match - only to get knocked on the head by her opponent while he's in the middle of yielding to her. And she collapses, and loses, and feels humiliated - and all this in front of the Academy teachers, whose jobs, I would assume, are to prevent foul play and to teach some sort of "we are better than that" lesson. But no. And it's hard not to contrast this with a later battle, in which she has no compunctions using Savoy's methods once again to best a male opponent - and this time to kill him. For what crime? Well, he was trying to kill an indisposed Savoy.

Which leads me to the third problem: internal inconsistencies. Fisker was trying to kill Savoy - but why? This is the same man who told de Winter that he'd refused two substantial bribes a decade before to make sure Savoy never graduated! And suddenly, ten years later, he goes on a mad killing spree and tries to do away with Savoy? How absurd.

There are more inconsistencies: the Academy trains the most elite fighters in the kingdom - fighters who can beat anyone and best protect the king. And yet when de Winter first faces a mage, he beats her in about three seconds by burning her weapon in her hand. What happened the elite Academy corps? If they're so easily beaten, why aren't mages trained to protect the king? And when Savoy faces a mage later in the story, how is he able to intimidate him so easily? The mage could incapacitate him in seconds but chose not to because he's suddenly afraid of Savoy? That's ludicrous.

There's another problem with the mages, and to be fair, it's one the author attempts to address. According to the law - which is wrong, of course - all mages need to register with the Crown by age thirteen, at which point they are essentially slaves to the Crown. They can be assigned to any location and any task. Needless to say, there are a large number of unregistered mages and many of them take cover with one of the crime syndicates. But why would the Crown be so stupid? If the Crown attacks one of the syndicates, they're attacked in turn with mage violence. And yet they don't allow mages into the army and have no way of retaliating in turn. Why would they alienate the people who can help them? What a ridiculous waste of resources.

The Crown isn't exactly known for its smarts, though: Savoy goes to rescue his kidnapped little brother and is refused backup because he deserted his post for an unofficial mission, and because there's too much unrest in the capital and no men can be spared. (de Winter goes with him, though, because she conveniently just lost her sparring match and is probably facing dismissal from the Academy anyway. Remember the coward who couldn't beat her and had to resort to bashing her on the head in the middle of yielding to her - in front of the teachers, who did nothing? Can you tell I'm bitter about this? Also, Requisite Romance Alert.)

And yet when the young cousin of the king is kidnapped? Suddenly the violence in the capital is completely forgotten as half the army, along with the king, troops to rescue her. A Crown that only cares about the important children. How charming.

Which brings me back to the biggest problem with the book. de Winter is training to fight for the Crown. Why? What is there worth fighting for? The Crown doesn't seem to stand for honor or opposition to evil, only for winning and for opposition to crime which directly affects it.

The novel ends with Savoy's prediction that one day de Winter will command them all. It's oddly reminiscent of the end of The King of Attolia, in which Teleus predicts that Gen will one day be more than a king - he will be an Annux, a king of kings. Only in The King of Attolia, Teleus was justified in that prediction: Gen had just singlehandedly brought the country to heel, all while blindsiding them into believing he was a hopeless incompetent. Renee de Winter's been on one rescue mission, and suddenly she's the future great commander? This from the character who's been proclaimed throughout the novel as the greatest commander in the kingdom? Maybe that's supposed to give the prediction more weight, but instead, it undermines all the telling the novel's done about Savoy's greatness.

I haven't even touched on the overwrought writing and truly terrible metaphors in the beginning of the book, or the way the Academy teachers are seemingly incapable of maintaining a professional distance. Or the way they allow Savoy to - literally - beat de Winter. So she can stay in the Academy, of course.

There's a really good story somewhere in The Cadet of Tildor - it's just buried beneath the weight of the contradictions and smothered by the lack of nuance.
Profile Image for Gretchen Hohmeyer.
Author 2 books117 followers
January 3, 2013
There are moments, when you finish a book, that you just go, “Yes.” You put down your book or ereader and just sit there for a few minutes because YES. Especially lately, for me, when all my blog reading has been rushed and not entirely enjoyable. THIS IS WHY I LOVE BLOGGING, books like this.

I will say right from the get-go that I am a HUGE Tamora Pierce fan. She basically structured my childhood. One of my favorites was her series The Protector of the Small. The main character, Kel, and Renee would be GREAT AND AWESOME FRIENDS. If you loved The Protector of the Small series, stop reading this review right here and just go pre-order this book. Seriously. I’m not kidding.

Renee de Winter is my kind of girl. When the book opens up, she is given an ultimatum by her father: either be a real girl, or she’s banished from the house. Like she should, Renee chooses to go back to the life of a soldier–even though she is falling behind the rest of her male peers. Renee is shorter and weaker then all her male peers, simply because she doesn’t have the body mass she does. She believes that her salvation will come when the legedary Commander Savoy comes to teach the cadets, thinking that his methods will help her learn how to be better than the boys. But then, of course, there is kidnapping and treason and her simple task of trying to stay in the cadets so she doesn’t get thrown out on the street with nowhere to go gets WORSE.

I am honestly shocked on how well this book handles a wide range of settings and characters. I usually don’t like large character casts, but somehow this manages to keep all the characters in my brain. Sure, plenty of them aren’t fleshed out too much, but unlike some other books this doesn’t bother me. Each character seems to have the perfect amount of focus for their role in the story. (Except for Alec. But I think I just don’t LIKE Alec.) This book also definitely gets around, but I’m always really connected to where I am at the time. I usually jump on books for doing both these things poorly, but…I can’t believe I get to say someone’s done it well.

The plot is also very involved. It’s very political, and each action has a reaction on a very large scale. But, somehow, each action is also very personal, and each step makes sense. I wish I could expand on that, but then they’re would be spoilers and I can’t have that. Let me just say that Renee is affecting politics on a global scale while simply protecting her friends, and it���s amazing how it works out. Everything fits together seemlessly to create a personal story within a complicated political sphere–which, even better, always made sense to me.

As I said, more characters than not weren’t fleshed out, but the main characters–Renee, Savoy, Diam, for example–made me very happy. Obviously I’m predisposed to like Renee, but the character arc for Savoy also made me very happy. Once my intial dislike of a character is cemented, it takes very good reasons for me to like them again. Lidell gave me good reasons. For everything. Even the things I disliked in the beginning. One weird thing was that he had more flaws then it seemed Renee did, but I’ll let that slide. Romance was entirely NOT a factor of this novel, but I actually found myself wishing for it. Yes, me. Pretty sure pigs are about to fly. I’ll leave it at that.

It’s always harder to write a review on books you liked rather than the ones you disliked, but this is my attempt. My one most horrible thing to say is that Goodreads doesn’t have a series tag for this book and I just KNOW there has to be another one because OHMYGOD THERE HAS TO BE ANOTHER ONE. I will most certainly be owning it, and giving them the special place on my top shelf next to my Protector of the Small books.
Profile Image for Kazhy (My Library in the Making).
371 reviews40 followers
January 4, 2013
(This review was originally posted at My Library in the Making.)

I am a huge fan of George R.R. Martin, so to compare another writer's work to his is a huge deal. The people behind The Cadet of Tildor had bravely made this comparison, and I'm more than glad to know it lived up to it.

Renee de Winter was supposed to be a lady, learning to one day take over his lord father's estates, but instead, she chose to enroll into the Academy of Tildor and train to become an elite soldier. She chose this path not for honor, but for the vision of ending crime and injustice, the two things that had taken her mother and brother's lives.

I have a huge admiration for Renee. She was kind, brave, and smart, but she was no Mary Sue. In fact, she was a very real sixteen-year-old who felt fear and insecurity, but what added to this sense of genuineness to her was her capabilities. Back when she started at the Academy, she used to be one of the best in her class, but as puberty started to strike, she began to fall behind her male classmates' strength. I know she could've avoided it by training more, but with those guys' military training, they had nowhere to go but stronger.

Then there was Korish Savoy, a twenty-three-year-old commander of an elite military group and Renee's new trainer, who entertained—or, honestly speaking, made me swoon—me with his tough man exterior, and I couldn't be happier when I learned that his part in the plot was bigger than I thought. His underestimation of Renee when he'd just met him made me raise an eyebrow, though, but he sure helped in developing her combat skills.

This book gave me two surprises. First was the romance. I can't say anything about it without being spoiler-y, but that bit certainly didn't go the way I'd guessed. Second was the mages and their power, which gave way for even more surprises. So well done.

For an epic fantasy novel, the world-building was not that grand or anything, but surprisingly, that didn't bother me at all because over-describing could have distracted me from the plot, which was so full of action, twists, and high stakes that I absolutely loved. That, combined with an amazing pace that had me frantic to leaf through the pages, made this an unputdownable read.

Although sometimes the writing confused me enough that I had to read the same paragraph twice or thrice before I understood it, it was still such a pleasure to read The Cadet of Tildor. I loved it much more than I thought I would, and I am crossing my fingers for a sequel.

MY FAVORITE PART was that scene at the end with Renee and her father.
Profile Image for Heidi.
2,648 reviews53 followers
January 3, 2013
Wow! What a story! Full of twists and turns and difficult choices, Lidell has written a book that is not only an exciting, intense read, but thought-provoking with serious ethical and moral questions. I found the book compelling and definitely one of my all time favorite reads. Here's why.

Characters: Renee makes a fabulous main character. Not only is she determined and courageous but loyal as well. Not that she is perfect, she is far from it. She, like most people, makes some foolish decisions and even some that are downright stupid. Yet she eventually steps forward to accept the consequences of those choices, even when it could mean the end of her long held dream of being a Servant of the Crown. While attending the Academy, the sole means of attaining her dream of being an officer in the King's prized army, Renee must deal with not only schoolwork but bullies, a combat instructor who constantly challenges her, and a friend with a dangerous secret.

Savoy on the other hand is NOT where he wants to be. He would much rather be with the Seventh, the military unit he commands, not teaching cadets how to use a sword. Returning to the Academy forces him to face ghosts from the past, both friend and foe. To be honest, Savoy reminds me a great deal of Eugenides in the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner and Sage in Jennifer Nielson's The False Prince, in that his natural tendencies, such as deliberately goading a long time enemy, get him in trouble all over the place, yet whose tough exterior contains a very loyal and honorable heart.

The other characters were great as well, even the 'bad guys' had there good points (most of them anyway). Alec and Sasha are great friends for Renee. Diam, Savoy's eight-year-old brother and his dog, Khavi, are a delight. I felt like the characters in this book reflected reality, people with strengths and weaknesses who make choices they then have to live with for better or worse. For me, strong characters are a necessity in order for me to get really involved in a book. This book accomplishes that task quite easily.

PLOT: I need to be careful here because I don't want to give away anything, but the story moves quickly. I honestly did not feel like I was reading a 400 page book. I read for hours without much noticing the passing of time. I enjoyed the intricate connections between the different characters and their choices in the events that occur, for better or worse. I appreciated how the author slowly reveals to Renee and King Lysian the fact that their world was not as black and white as they thought it to be. The maneuvers of the crime families and the crown involve everyone around them and entangle Renee, Savoy and the others in dangerous situations where loyalties are tested and questions of ethics and morality take center stage.

What takes precedence? the life of one man? or the good of the crown? How do Renee's and Savoy's personal loyalties play out against a background of violence and politics. Interestingly, there is little romance in this book, although the potential is there and I'm eager to see what happens in what I hope will be coming sequels.

I highly, highly recommend this book, however, it will not be for every reader. Because of the issues involved there is a good deal of violence as well as swearing. The fight scenes are impressive and action packed.
Profile Image for Jessica Noreault.
45 reviews5 followers
September 4, 2012
Amazing, kick ass scenes, that leave you craving more!
All I can say about this book, is that it was better than I had hoped. It left you guessing the whole time, and came together at the end very nicely. You never get bored with it, and the second you think you have something figured out BAM Lidell hits you with a new twist to it!

Overall summary of the book
De Winters is a young girl who just wants to protect her people from the vicious deeds of a group called 'the family'. To do this she is working to become a cadet and serve the crown. Unfortunately, she is the only girl left among several powerful guys, and this is her last chance to prove that she can be just as good as them. Along the way she learns so much about herself, her family, and her friends. Her beliefs are put to the test, her true strength is forced to show, and she has many difficult choices to make.

Renee De Winters is a girl that many females will be able to relate to. I recommend this book to anyone who loves Tamora Pierce, Maria V Snyder, Kristin Cashore, and so on. Lidell weaves a beautiful story with many wonderful characters that you find it easy to fall in love with - or hate, depending on the scene. I went back and forth many times with a lot of the characters. They all have very distinct personalities, innocence, loyalty, strength, and honor. It is all slammed into this wonderful story. I honestly cannot wait for book 2, and Lidell has someone hounding her for any little tid bits she would give. Unfortunately D: she's not giving me anything! Haha, but seriously people. Keep an eye out for this book!

This review is based off of the arc.
125 reviews19 followers
April 10, 2018

The land of Tildor is beset with enemies both within and without as a young and inexperienced king takes the throne after the death of his sickly father; a powerful neighboring country tests Tildor's borders and two powerful criminal organizations, the Family and the Vipers, run rampant, taking over entire cities and demanding tribute and protection money from the nobility.

Lady Renee de Winter is a Cadet at the military Academy of Tildor, training to become one of the elite Servants of the Crown against her father's wishes, so she can seek revenge against the Family who arranged the deaths of her mother and elder brother. Unfortunately, Renee is at the bottom of her class, struggling to keep up with the strength-based physical training by spending all of her spare time in extra workouts, which leaves her little time or energy to keep up with the academic side of her studies.

When Renee's hero, Korish Savoy, who famously rose in position from the child of two common mercenaries to Commander of the elite Seventh special missions unit, and his unit are reassigned to the Academy so Savoy can teach, Renee attaches herself to the man immediately, training alongside him and his troops, but will extra training be enough to save her position at the Academy or, when the Vipers' latest scheme unfolds, her life and the lives of her friends?

I found this book alternately fresh and frustrating. It's a tense and grounded school novel up until it abruptly isn't, and that transition from the confines of the Academy to adventure and danger is the weakest part of the novel. Renee, who places Savoy high on a pedestal above herself, abruptly deciding they are equals and he's worth no more than her as a person and they might be friends instead, a jarring emotional discontinuity.

The scenes that followed were low points where it seemed the book was heading for disappointing cliche: Renee's friend is jealous of her crush on Savoy and awkwardly reveals that he has romantic feelings for her that she doesn't reciprocate! Savoy and Renee use her noble title to infiltrate a Duke's household to gain information, and... they dance! Renee is (ugh, and tw for sexual assault) surrounded by a drunken mob intent on assaulting her in the seedy part of the city!

Eventually the book wrapped around to a better (and satisfyingly standalone) ending, refusing a tidy resolution to the Crown's war with the criminal organizations in favor of a momentary victory, and making a few other interesting choices besides. This is a rare thing in YA and fantasy generally, a story where the protagonist has an antagonistic relationship with a parent, and the happy ending is not the parent coming to respect and endorse their child's choices, but instead the child cutting the parent out of her life, with ample justification in this case.

The magic system is interesting here. People and animals have a natural magical barrier, the Keraldi barrier (named after the female mage who first described it), that must be pierced with magic before magic can do either direct help or direct harm to the body. Some animals have magic as well, and exceptionally strong mages in ancient times even managed to bond with animals (no, the protagonist does not).

Generations ago, mages ruled in Tildor, but eventually the common people overthrew them, killed the strongest of them, and destroyed most of the stores of magical knowledge. In the present day of the story, all mages must register with the Crown, and the Crown puts them to work in an occupation of its own choosing without the mage's input into the matter. The Vipers offer unregistered mages an alternative, sanctuary and training in exchange for service to the organization and more freedom to choose their work, but some mages try to conceal and bury their powers and live their own lives without either alternative but run the risk of their uncontrolled power spilling out and causing fires. The ethics of this situation are discussed, and become personally important when someone close to Renee turns out to be a mage, and the novel doesn't offer any tidy solutions here either.

The rating comes down, mostly, because of the awkward middle section I mentioned above, but also because Savoy's training of Renee (both the special training and normal training on class) borders on outright abusive at times. The narrative seems like it's going to address it by having Savoy's former friend (who he lost as a friend because of his toxic behavior when they were Cadets) call it out, but it lets him off the hook by repeatedly retroactively providing context for his actions that make physically harming Renee "the kindest thing he could have done" (because otherwise she would have faced a harsher punishment, because he is an expert swordsman and from anyone else the punishment would have meant broken bones and not bruises, because it straightened him out as an unruly child) and then drops it pretty much completely after the authorial fiat that Renee sees him as an equal and friend.

There were indications that it would do more with addressing toxic masculinity--we see Renee buying into it herself by valuing physical strength above all else and trying to overcome the boys instead of actually succeed at her goals with the speed-focused fighting style Savoy teaches her, and we see from Savoy's POV (another interesting choice) that Savoy's mentor and foster father treated him much the same way he does Renee, but those threads were just sort of dropped in favor of the intrigues once the story left the Academy.

It's a personal pet peeve too, the problem of Renee's strength. This is a world where even the most out of shape and untrained unarmed man can best an armed young woman who's had several years of elite martial arts training because of an innate difference in physical strength between men and women, and past a certain point that just didn't ring true to me. Renee is not the first female Cadet candidate, and there are other women in the Servants, but none of them are more than background characters, and it's a mystery and miracle how they made the cut given what we see. (Women are sparse in the novel generally, but I did like Renee's law student roommate and friend in the screen time she got.)

Overall, a story that does some interesting things-- allowing romantic feelings to remain unrequited and evolve into friendship instead, giving us our heroine's adult mentor's POV alongside her own, mixing organized crime and an interesting magic system into the typical fantasy setting, and refusing easy answers-- with some disappointing weaknesses as well.
Profile Image for S.M. Blooding.
Author 45 books583 followers
August 25, 2012
I'm currently not awake yet, but I just realized this was sitting on the wrong shelf. Wow! I'm such a dork!

This book is AMAZING!! Its a truly empowering book for young women and I really want my daughters to read it. The characters are fantastically penned. I love Renee, loved watching her struggle, fighting with her as she tried to prove herself to the boys, and truly enjoyed watching her grow! Savoy is fantastic as well. He's just so strong and yet so flawed. I LOVE it!

The plot and the political intrigue were great as well! There was just so much depth to the plot and the setting! It was...wait. I've already said fantastic and amazing...it was fantasmic!

Honestly, this is a book I would highly recommend!
Profile Image for Alissa.
616 reviews85 followers
June 20, 2016
3.5 stars. A straightforward YA fantasy novel with a nice premise, good execution and mercifully, no emphasis on teenage romance. Engaging in the end, too. I liked the ride.

“Friends need not like each other’s choices to guard each other’s backs, right?”
Profile Image for Jessica (Jessabella Reads).
95 reviews65 followers
January 5, 2013
First Thoughts:
I had pretty high expectations going in. The blurb compares the book to Tamora Pierce and George R. R. Martin's works, which in my opinion gives it some pretty big shoes to fill. So, suffice it to say that I was hoping to be blown away by The Cadet.

And Then:
Alex Lidell did not let me down one bit. The story was exciting and dangerous. The pacing was fast enough that I was never bored, but not too fast as to loose any character or plot development. Speaking of characters, I truly was invested in each and every one. This is a rare thing for me. Each character was so well written and given so much emotional depth that I felt as if I personally knew each and every one. The main character Renee de Winter was spirited, brave, ambitious, and loyal. I was rooting for her from the get go. I loved how dedicated she was in breaking the stereotype that only boys were strong enough to make it through Cadet training. She is soon thrown into a whirlwind of political intrigue, kidnapping, and tough decisions that put some of her beliefs to the ultimate test. Commander Savoy was another favorite character of mine. I'll admit that I didn't like him very much at first, but once I got to know him and his reasons for the things he did, I really "got" him. He has a very tough exterior and kept his emotions bottled inside. As the story progresses, we learn what happened to make him that way, and it makes him that much more lovable. He was such a good guy, and you could tell how much he cared about Renee's success as a Cadet. He also has a pivotal role in her growth as a character.

As for romance, well it wasn't a huge part of the book, but it wasn't lacking either. I honestly felt that it was done just right for this story and these characters. If you are NOT a fan of insta-love, you will find the romance inThe Cadet very refreshing! I really liked the fact that Renee didn't go all goo goo eyed over Savoy and let it take away from her duty or sense of self. I just think Lidell handled that aspect of the story really well. Sometimes less is more, and in this case it was.

I really enjoyed the many twists and turns this story took. I was literally sitting there with my mouth hanging open like a fish at some points! I kept saying to myself "WOW, I never saw that coming!". The fight scenes were action packed and will leave you on the edge of your seat. There is a nice bit of magic in the book as well which I really enjoyed. This book really had so much going on (In a GOOD way) that I could never fully explain everything I loved about it without having spoilers.

I will say this, if you are a fan of Tamora Pierce, Rae Carson, or Kristin Cashore; you will LOVE The Cadet of Tildor. Alex Lidell has definitely found a new fan in this reader, and I will eagerly pick up anything she writes in the future. I don't know if there will be a sequel to The Cadet, but I freaking hope there is. That ending! Oh, man. It wasn't even a traditional cliffhanger, but still left me aching for more!(In a good way). I already miss the characters, and want to read more about their lives.

I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It is categorized as "fantasy", but really has a bit of everything. There is action, political intrigue and magic. It also has a good deal of real life issues and lessons, which would make this a great classroom read. There is really something for everyone in this one, so I suggest you pick up a copy right away. Alex Lidell's debut has made her one of my new favorite authors. Watch this woman everyone, she is an amazing new voice in YA fiction.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote: "A hill feels like a mountain until the real thing laughs in your face."

Profile Image for Dragana.
1,606 reviews143 followers
January 17, 2013
Renee de Winter never wanted to be a lady, she wanted to protect her country, Tildor. That's why she is attending the Academy of Tildor instead of glamorous balls. How is she going to protect her country by studying, some of you might ask. Well, you see the Academy of Tildor is not just any school, it's the only school that trained an unique type of military officers called Servants (because they serve the Crown and the people).
You just gotta love and admire Renee and her persistence. She does not let her size or comments from other people keep her down. Her father tells her:
"No quantity of training will make a wolf from a cockroach."
But Renee keeps on going and works hard on improving herself. Is she a kick-ass type of heroine? Hell yeah! Renee is not very tall and strong, so she's got to use her other abilities like speed, stamina & of course stubbornness to out-wit and defeat usually stronger and bigger opponents. It's good to read about heroine that is not almighty or has some special abilities.
The story follows mostly Renee but sometimes we get to see events from perspective of other characters: her best friend Alec, her roommate Sarah, fighting trainer Savoy, his little brother Diam and his pet dog Khavi etc. Their point of view gives us additional information and let us better understand them all. In The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell there may be good and the bad side but nobody is black or white. There is something good in bad guys and sometimes good guys make catastrophic mistakes.

The Cadet of Tildor is high fantasy. Imaginary world of Tildor is interesting and I would have loved to learn more about it's customs. But, since this is a standalone novel, Alex Lidell focused world building on the Academy of Tildor & behavior of the ruthless gang of Vipers that is terrorizing the country. There are a lot of subjects like: customs of noble families, mages, their magic, magical companions and history of Tildor, that were not explained in much detail. But as I said, since there is a page limit, you can not squeeze everything in one book.
Another neglected aspect in this book is romance, but I am not complaining. It's refreshing to meet girl in young adult novel who in time of crisis thinks and try to solve problems instead to contemplate which of two handsome boys to choose.

The best value of The Cadet of Tildor is not strong heroine or fast-paced action, although book has all that, it's contemplation and discussion of some all-time moral dilemmas. When neither choice is a good one what to do?
"She had never though herself capable of betraying the Crown.
She could not, would not, betray a friend.
And that loyalty meant treason."

Another question this book asks is: "How much did blood matter?" Does our ancestors & their behavior defines us, will we always fall into a familiar pattern or can people choose their own destiny?
Yes this is one of those books to make you think. ;)

The Cadet of Tildor is awesome debut novel by Alex Lidell. It's great addition to young adult fantasy genre that ignores all the usual ya tropes, makes you think about some heavy moral dilemmas, cheer for realistic down-to-earth characters and keeps you on the edge of your seat with fast-paced action scenes. It's an awesome book, and I can't wait to read the next book by Alex Lidell. I hope she won't make us wait too long!

Disclaimer: I was given a free eBook by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. This text is also posted on my blog Bookworm Dreams in a little bit more styled edition.
Profile Image for Raina {The LUV'NV}.
211 reviews41 followers
February 7, 2013
It's so hard writing reviews for books I absolutely love. I feel as if I can't ever give them the justice they deserve, and I don't want to give too much away or build your expectations so high that you walk away disappointed. The Cadet of Tildor is one of those stories. After turning the last page and closing the book, I sighed and pet the backcover a little because I was so satisfied, as well as a bit sad that it was over.

Alex Lidell created a wonderful, exciting world I wanted to live and stay in. Soldiers and mages, highborn and criminals, the content middle-class to the trapped—they were captured all so well, showing how people aim for the same ends but by different means and how their actions affect everyone. Her descriptions were vivid, but not too much that I felt it dragged out, and every single one of her characters were distinctive. I felt as if I knew most of them within a few paragraphs.

Even better, the female protagonist, Renee de Winter, though flawed, was realistic and strong. She didn't have superpowers or do anything extravagant or outrageous. It was her loyalty, determination, and sense of self that made her amazing. I especially appreciated how, with every experience, her views would shift slightly; nothing happened without reason or consequence. And she didn't pine over a boy or let him change her. It was so refreshing.

Though some might not like him, I loved Korish Savoy. His arrogance worked for me. He had a reason to be so confident and kind of a brush-off. Not only is he a legend of all soldiers and cadets, but he knew his priorities. Sure, I would've enjoyed more romance between him and Renee, but it wouldn't have been them, and it's the consistency and gradual growth of these characters that I really appreciated.

There were a lot of events that happened in this book. The action was non-stop, and I couldn't put the book down, but the plot was well paced. I could easily keep up, and I was never impatient or felt that everything was rushed either. The rules and philosophies of the world were complex and believable, too. Alex Lidell's storytelling is fantastic. I couldn't be more thrilled to have stumbled upon her and this book. The Cadet of Tildor is must-read. NOW. Especially if you like strong males, even stronger females, and a vivid world to lose yourself in.

** Review also posted on the The LUV'NV blog.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
305 reviews8 followers
March 6, 2013
**4.5 stars**

See more awesome reviews on my blog thebiasedbookie.blogspot.com

I love a good fantasy. What's more I love a good fantasy with a coming of age, kick-butt heroine. Check and check. This book had it all for me. Maybe a little more in the romance department Lidell. But if there's a sequel, and I'm betting there will be, please put in a little more smooching. And that smooching better be between Renee and Savoy. That would be perfect...

The Setting
Against her father's wished, Renee is enrolled and training at the Academy of Tildor. It is her dream to become an elite soldier for the new king of Tildor. But this quest for Renee is going to be an uphill battle. On the brink of being sent home by the Academy, Renee must refine some of her skills, most importantly sword fighting, to continue at the school. This will be no easy task as most of her peers are male, and their strength and physique grow stronger with every passing year. Renee and her friend Alec hone their skills with their teacher, Savoy, a decorated and successful general who was forced from the battlefield to mentor the "brat" cadets.
Despite Savoy's wrath, Renee is determined to succeed at the Academy. But when Savoy's younger brother is mysteriously kidnapped, Renee and Alec face some difficult decisions. For Alec is hiding a secret that could doom both him and Renee. What are Renee, Alec and Savoy willing to sacrifice to save each other and Savoy's brother? Will there be a way to return home respectfully?

What I LIKED about this book
As I said before, fantasy done right is hard to put down and this book was no exception. The pressure Renee experiences feel real and endear her to you. You want more than anything for her to succeed. This was not a book where the main character already is powerful and skillful. Renee truly worked hard to earn her standing and she made many mistakes along the way. But after every fall she got back up, brushed herself off and tried again. This coming of age story is so refreshingly honest and realistic. I could easily see Renee as myself.
The story was well thought out and added a touch of mystery and magic where needed. The story pulled me along and the twists kept me turning the pages.

What I DISLIKED about this book
I'm not one to say this often, but I would have liked just a little more romance. The Cadet of Tildor teased you in this aspect. Yes Renee did kiss someone but it was not who you wanted and meant very little to her. You can see a relationship forming between Renee and Savoy, so for my sake I hope there is a sequel to quench my romantic mind.

Parting Thoughts
Overall I'll award The Cadet of Tildor 4.5 out of 5 stars. You have to read this book if you enjoy fantasy. I'd recommend this for fans of Tamora Pierce, Rae Carson and perhaps Kristin Cashore, though compared to this book, Cashore and Carson have considerably more romance in their novels. I really need the sequel to this book. I need to witness Renee's progress and pray that Savoy enters the picture somewhere!
Profile Image for Claire Caterer.
Author 2 books60 followers
January 9, 2013
How lucky was I to be able to read Alex Lidell's brand-spanking-new novel just before its debut! While weighing in at just over 400 pages, Lidell's tale of a splintering fantasy kingdom with a female cadet striving to prove herself at its hub actually races along. The worldbuilding is swift and sure, not overburdened with needless detail but brimming with verisimilitude. Heroine Renee de Winter, her training academy, and even the gladiator-like battles unfold in cinematic detail and color.

Lidell draws us into the story with Renee's determination to equal her fellow (male) students at the elite academy where she's training to defend the Crown. But the story quickly ripples out from there as various crime factions threaten the kingdom's new monarch. When those closest to Renee get caught up in the violence, she has no choice but to defend them.

I marvel at the writer's ability to draw the various groups so carefully without bogging down the story. The action never pauses, yet somehow Lidell finds time to bring the characters to complex life as they struggle between their consciences and others' expectations. Fast-paced, well written, with plenty of fight scenes and just a hint of possible romance to come in future sequels, THE CADET OF TILDOR is great fun to read.

Disclaimer: This review was based on an advance reader's copy (ARC).
Profile Image for Tee loves Kyle Jacobson.
2,474 reviews170 followers
January 3, 2013
The Cadet Of Tildor is a BRILLIANT read! I first have to say that Alex Lidell did a great job bringing us a world that I absolutely love. I am a huge history buff and I love how the knights fought for what was right and what is more impressive is the main character in Tildor is a female! Yes you heard me right the main character is a female and she is one kick butt heroine. She knows what she wants and she goes after it. Sometimes she is infuriating because she sees the world as right or wrong no between but she is about to find out what middle ground is and how it is important to have it.

There is a new king in Tildor and he is young and not experienced in running the thrown. As with any new King or Queen the bad guys try and usurp authority. So two crime families are fighting it out for control over the King and the thrown. While all this is going on Renee and her best friend Alec are training and Renee is fighting like hell for the boys to treat her like an equal. Yes she is a girl but she can do anything they can and she wants the respect that is due her.

Then Renee's mentor is kidnapped and Renee and Alec are thrust into a world they never knew existed. They will have to go underground to the illegal gladiator fighting to rescue her mentor but she and Alec will do whatever it takes to rescue her mentor. This is a must read for everyone!
Profile Image for Kris Irvin.
1,358 reviews51 followers
September 7, 2016
Good gravy I loved this book. GUYS. It's a SELF CONTAINED NOVEL. Those are so rare to find these days. I mean, it COULD continue on, but it won't KILL you if it doesn't. I give it an extra star JUST FOR THAT.

Also the characters I love them. I love the story. I love the world. It reminded me of Mercedes Lackey (who I love) and Tamora Pierce (who I also love.) Thus, I will be buying this book. I realize this review gives you no information whatsoever but I JUST LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH I NEED TO GO CUDDLE IT NOW.

Re-read 2016: So this book was good, but it wasn't amazing. I am disappointed in 2013 me for being overly effusive for no apparent reason.
Profile Image for Kristina Snyder.
479 reviews229 followers
November 12, 2012
LOVED this book!!! I am participating in a traveling ARC tour so my review will be posted in January!!! This is a book everyone should read!!!
Profile Image for ♥ Unaeve ♥ .
220 reviews40 followers
May 27, 2015
Very entertaining, i loved it :) It's one of those books you feel like you have to read to the end in one sitting!
Profile Image for Hallie.
954 reviews124 followers
January 31, 2013
I think the three star rating might be harsher than it would have been if this hadn't tapped into overly high expectations. Those expectations did not come from the book's description as "Tamora Pierce meets George R. R. Martin", because I haven't read Martin and wasn't very impressed with the couple of Tamora Pierce I read. But the "smart", "political" and "fantasy" part of the description, especially with military academy -- that took me straight to Sherwood Smith. Any time you hold any book up against Sherwood's in the worldbuilding arena, you're likely throwing that poor book straight to the lions, but this isn't a real review, so I'm doing it anyway, and - no surprise - it loses. First was the fact that the Academy is quite small, with the principal and two teachers being the only staff really visible, and those who make it through form "an elite cadre, destined for the most vital assignments and missions". Despite this, and despite the fact that the kingdom is in desperate need of all the help they can get, they will get rid of one of the students in their last year as a matter of course. Even if they're all perfectly well qualified, one leaves the island! That's no way to run the training of your elite military force. When Savoy comes, extremely reluctantly, to teach swordsmanship, he repeatedly tells Renee that no matter how hard she works, or how good she is for a girl, she'll never be able to fight well enough to hold her own against the guys. Exceeeeepppttt - . Again, if he's so committed to serving the Crown, he should do everything he can to ensure that those who come from the Academy are the best they can be.

I liked Renee, for the most part - initially she was very moralistic about the law and the treatment of mages, despite the fact that that treatment was horribly unfair - and I liked her friends at the Academy, and I very much liked that the romantic element here was only a small, possibly budding triangle. However, I never got over my dislike of Savoy for his stroppiness about being assigned to teach, and his uselessness as a teacher where Renee was concerned. I amused myself with my stuffiness by getting a bit ruffled when Renee described Savoy as her friend - in this kind of military environment, he was her superior, not her friend! I found Seaborn, teacher of law and Savoy's friend, much more interesting, and he sounded like a very good teacher too, but it's Savoy who's the Wounded Hero with a Past, it seems. His younger brother Diam was another quite fun character - fey as all get out, hard to control (even when it's really necessary), and coming on the scene with his own -- dog, let's say. But

The final thing I found disappointing was the reveal of the big, bad baddie's motivation, which seemed more than a bit limp. I assume there's more to come, though no sign of a sequel yet, and would like to read it, but with adjusted expectations this time.
Profile Image for Jenny.
192 reviews146 followers
January 25, 2013
What to say about this one? I liked it. It sated my high fantasy craving and was just what I needed at the time of reading it. The Cadet of Tildor isn't probably a Favorite, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I like the characters. The story is a fun adventure, full of swordplay and some magic. There's a badass mage wolf in it. (Mage animals alone is pretty much enough reason to read anything, right?) Also, if you're looking for a book without a love story, this is it (though there are a couple of crushes lurking around, however brief or quelled those feelings may be). The relationships in this book are ones of friendship rather than soul mates.

Renee and Savoy are both awesome characters with large amounts of resolve and skill. Neither of them will give up on themselves or what they want. The difference between them lies in their amount of experience. Savoy has it and Renee doesn't. Their dynamic is enjoyable and I like seeing Savoy in the role of Renee's teacher and mentor.

The worldbuilding is pretty successful. The Academy makes a great setting. The politics aren't necessarily complicated, but the interpretation of law and incorporation of some strategies at how to deal with some of the problems of the kingdom are a focus. Lidell does a good job at showing how sometimes, in order to control a criminal population, one has to allow for it to continue to exist. There is such a thing as the lesser of two evils in Tildor. And I think that is one of the truths that Renee, and to an extent Savoy, both have to come to terms with in the story - that everything isn't so black and white, that the gray areas exist and that, sometimes, you need them.

The plot is not so fast in the first half as in the second, as it is mostly training and personal growth and getting to know the characters and their motivations and seeing the ways in which they interact. There are still some tensions, conflicts and pertinent information, and the pacing is decent. But these things are more heightened in the second half of the story. It is once the kidnapping takes place that the problems become more immediate and the pacing picks up because of it.

My one complaint would be that the reader never really gets inside the characters' heads much. The third person omniscient point of view flows from character to character, but I found out more about what each character was feeling from the dialogue of others than I did from the characters themselves. For example, it's insinuated by both Renee's friend Alec and Savoy's friend Seaborn that Renee has a crush on Savoy, but never from Renee herself, other than a one-time admiring of his physique. So it's never made clear whether she likes him as more than a friend and comrade. Because of this sort of thing, there is a little bit of a lack of emotion in places - just because the reader doesn't get the extent of the emotions felt by the characters at times. I suppose that is intentional given the fact that they're soldiers bound to duty and whatnot (because that is a big part of the characters' reasoning), but I think adding more emotional depth could have made this a favorite since everything else is pretty much great.

It's a good story, if a little predictable in places, and I enjoyed it. I'd recommend it to fans of fantasy and adventure, and particularly to those who want a book that doesn't focus on a love story.
Profile Image for Megan.
522 reviews343 followers
January 10, 2013
I didn’t know much about THE CADET OF TILDOR before hosting a feature on my blog several months ago. But by the time I found myself in the blog tour, I had educated myself instead of educating myself on things that I should have been studying. A girl training to be a Servant of the Crown, medieval fantasy, mages and cage fighting, brooding boys (yes, ladies and gentlemen, I love a brooding boy occasionally).

Beyond what you might find in the synopsis, THE CADET OF TILDOR is the story of a girl fighting to prove herself in a field where girls rarely shine. I’ll start this review with our heroine Renee, the headstrong, determined 16 year old who has spent her life dedicated to proving to her instructors and her father that she can stand alongside the boys. She might not be as strong as the boys, but she makes up for that with intelligence and mental strength.

The cast of characters around her is just as well drawn out, even if there are lapses in characterization. For example, Alec’s portrayal suddenly shifted with no real explanation besides a revelation that was inevitable. One of the main cons about this story was how he came across, and likewise how the characters around Renee sometimes shifted in their characterization without warning or purpose. But the hero of our story, Koresh Savoy (Renee’s new instructor – and main love interest), has his own issues, even if I did love him (but not really as a love interest). At times he came across as a big fat jerk, too stuck in his own ways and ego to realize the picture at hand. He was stuck up and broody, but as a match for Renee? Is it bad that I was shipping Renee and Alec?

Beyond the characters, the scope of the world is huge and well constructed. We have a kingdom ruled by an ineffective king, crime syndicates and enemy empires, cage fights in lawless cities, vast wildernesses populated with fantastical creatures, and mages. Beyond the fact that mages are forced to register and be subject to the whim of the authorities – they have no say if they become a battle mage on the front lines or a healer stuck in an office – they’re super awesome. I mean, I would want to be one. The schematics of this world are almost immaculate, but a few more definitions and descriptions wouldn’t have hurt.

For a debut author, Ms. Lidell shows strength in her prose, even if at times the story seems to wander without really finding a purpose. The strength of this novel, though, is in its story, filled with revelations, betrayals, truths, lies, and plenty of twists. I loved it from start to end, and I think this is going to be a series maybe? I sure hope so!

If you are into fantasy, this book is for you. It has a very strong dash of what makes Tamora Pierce such an awesome writer, and I see great things in Ms. Lidell’s future.

VERDICT: A fantastical novel that lives up to its strong premise, THE CADET OF TILDOR gave me everything I wanted and then some – especially in the form of one of the strongest female protagonists I’ve read in a long time. Pick this one up.

Profile Image for Shae.
741 reviews169 followers
May 29, 2016
Oh. My. Stars.

I have had this book on my shelf for YEARS. I picked it up because of word of mouth buzz and never got around to reading it. I had no expectations when I finally did start, but then... wow. WOW.

This book is Romanesque fantasy, complete with an academy for soldiers, a gladiator pit, crime families, a young king, and magic. The main character, Renee, wants more than anything to be a Servant of the Crown, basically an elite soldier. Her father gives her an ultimatum--leave school and return to the family estate or be disinherited--and she chooses school. I found her struggle to achieve her goals especially interesting because Renee is thwarted by her own biology. Pound for pound, she just can't match her larger, stronger male classmates.

Renee's fight to remain at the Academy is Conflict #1. Conflict #2 is the growing corruption in her kingdom. There are two dueling crime syndicates, the Family and the Vipers, that are trying to best each other and the country's new king, young King Lysian. There's a whole bunch of secret deals, bribes, backbiting, betrayal, and murrrrrrrrrderrrrrrrrrrr.

Interestingly, while Renee is a very black-and-white sort of person, the world begins to open up as she learns more about the syndicates, politics, and the Academy itself. Right and wrong is Conflict #3, and we end up with a fairly nuanced view of at least one of the syndicates that I found very intriguing.

Okay, but the big draw for me was THE SHIP. Technically, this book is a shipper's paradise in that there are at least THREE boys you can pair Renee with, but there are NO LOVE SHAPES. None. I have my own pet ship, of course, and wowza. You guys. The Shang/Mulan vibes I was getting off of this bad boy...

As this was the author's debut, there are some missteps. I could've used more depth to some of the minor characters and threads, and I didn't like what happened with Alec and how he behaved. I also thought it an odd choice that the boy who was metaphorically raped was given a much more nuanced space to work through his PTSD than the girl who was ACTUALLY raped. (However, I thought both depictions were realistic and unoffensive, at least to my untrained eye.)

Ultimately, I DEVOURED this book. Every second I wasn't reading I was grumpy that I wasn't reading! The moment I finished, I went 1) on Twitter to push it onto friends and 2) onto Goodreads to find the sequel. AND THEN I WAILED BECAUSE THERE WAS NO SEQUEL. Thankfully, everything was wrapped up well enough that the story does work as a standalone, but DAGNABIT. I WANT MORE.
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