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Nine Kingdoms #1

Star of the Morning

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From the USA Today bestselling author comes the first in a magical romantic fantasy trilogy.

Darkness covers the north, since the black mage has begun his assault on the kingdom of Neroche. Legend has it that only the two magical swords held by Neroche's king can defeat the mage. Now the fate of the Nine Kingdoms rests in the hands of a woman destined to wield one of those blades...

In this land of dragons and mages, warrior maids and magical swords, nothing is as it seems. And Morgan will find that the magic in her blood brings her troubles she cannot face with a sword-and a love more powerful than she has ever imagined.

336 pages, Paperback

First published December 5, 2006

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About the author

Lynn Kurland

71 books1,496 followers
Lynn began her writing career at the tender age of five with a series of illustrated novellas entitled Clinton’s Troubles in which the compelling hero found himself in all sorts of . . . well, trouble. She was living in Hawaii at the time and the scope for her imagination (poisoned fish, tropical cliffs, large spiders) was great and poor Clinton bore the brunt of it. After returning to the mainland, her writing gave way to training in classical music and Clinton, who had been felled with arrows, eaten by fish and sent tumbling off cars, was put aside for operatic heroes in tights.

Somehow during high school, in between bouts of Verdi and Rossini, she managed to find time to submerge herself in equal parts Tolkien, Barbara Cartland and Mad Magazine. During college, a chance encounter with a large library stack of romances left her hooked, gave her the courage to put pen to paper herself, and finally satisfied that need for a little bit of fantasy with a whole lot of romance!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 626 reviews
Profile Image for Navessa.
Author 11 books7,639 followers
March 4, 2016

Beginning of this book:


Middle of this book:


End of this book:


I'm not going to lie, the first 40 or so pages of this was slow for me. There were some editing misses via repetitive words and phrases, a crap-ton of characters, and some slightly questionable world building.

But then I met the female lead, Morgan, and I started to not care so much about those things. She's kind of like a Kate Daniels of the fantasy genre, and I do mean fantasy, because there was much more noble questing in this than there was romance.

So Kate Morgan is a BAMF. The woman wields a sword better than almost anyone else in this world. She also speaks her mind, and while she can recognize a pretty face, she's not blinded by it. Point in case would be her and the king. The man was a jackass, and her constantly telling him how obnoxious he was had me in stitches.

My love for Morgan doesn't blind me to this book's shortcomings. There are a few plot holes, and some decisions are made that surely could have led to the death of a certain crucial character. Also, the "monsters" in this book were never really explained, which bothered the hell out of me. But then, this is more of a character/quest oriented book, so if you're looking for lengthy descriptions of kingdoms, lands, clothing, and customs, look elsewhere.

This is fantasy-light, my friends.

My fellow feminists will likely also be bothered by Morgan's views on traditional gender roles. Specifically that in her mind masculine attributes are a good thing, while feminine ones are decidedly not. She actually comments on this on several occasions in regards to the love interest early on, and I have to say, him not paying her any attention only further endeared him to me.

Is this book perfect? Obviously not. I think it actually might be hit and miss for a lot of readers. How much you ultimately enjoy it might depend on your ability to ignore its weaknesses and focus on its strengths.

Of which there are many.

The romance is a slow burn, the male lead is intelligent, non-ragey, and super adorable, the plot is intricately woven, secrets are revealed slowly, and there are twists at the end that will have you posting cryptic status updates filled with shouty caps.

Regardless of the few issues I had, this book is one hell of a start to a series. And I cannot wait to devour the rest of the books in it.

This review can also be found at The Book Eaters.
Profile Image for Angela.
3,199 reviews371 followers
November 24, 2017
September 2015 re-read: I've always had a hard time with reviewing and describing these books. They're light fantasy/romance, with closed doors. But they're full of so much humour, heart and fun that I absolutely adore them. I re-read these books when I'm in need of comfort.

It's so hard for me to review the books in this series, it's one of my favorites and has been since the first moment I started reading them. The year wait between books was, at times, truly awful...and always worth it. This is the first book, in the first trilogy set in the Nine Kingdoms and it really centers around Morgan, and Miach (MEE-ach).

Morgan's spent a good portion of her life learning to be the best of the best, at sword-play. She had no time for soft sentiments, or nearly anything but the next siege she can stage. But when the man that was the closest thing she's known to a father asks a favor, Morgan can't deny him anything. Morgan is such an incredibly competent, kick-ass woman. She is absolutely comfortable in who she is, calloused hands and all. She knows that it's unlikely for anyone to be her equal in battle and has no problem ensuring that she gets the respect she deserves. I just love her.

Miach. *sighs happily* What can I say about Miach? He's absolutely the best. I love him, dearly. Even with the deception against Morgan about who he truly is, I loved him from the very beginning. As Archmage of the realm, it's his duty to ensure its safety - no matter the cost, even to himself. Miach is honorable, sweet, smart, so incredibly kind, and so incredibly powerful - not that he lets it go to his head. He's also one of the most down to earth characters I've read.

The story here is pretty standard, Morgan sets out on a quest, with some companions - meets with some unexpected allies and foes and learns more about herself and the world in the process. This isn't your standard epic fantasy though. Don't take that to mean the world isn't well-developed, because it is. I can picture it clearly, feel the urgency of need to protect it, and understand easily how all the different groups work together (and against one another).

But the thing I love most while reading these is how much I end up smiling and laughing. The banter between the characters, their thoughts and actions...all of it combines to just simply make me happy. As I was reading this time I ended up highlighted passage upon passage of dialogue between different people, and more than once I had someone ask me what I was laughing at.

I highly, highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a fun fantasy-romance with great characters. I wish I could get more people to read them, because they're so special to me.
Profile Image for Teea.
383 reviews2 followers
January 3, 2011
Alright, I was looking over the reviews for this one and I'm surprised at how high it was rated. It was repetitive, unoriginal, cheesy, and so sllllooowww. The battles were glossed over and hard to follow. The characters seemed flat. The heroine for example was suppose to be strong, an extraordinary fighter and witty. I'm afraid I found her whiny, over confident, and judgmental. She was so sure of herself that she couldn't see what was right in front of her. *sigh. Don't judge me but I read half the next book in the series and was so frustrated with the fluff that I grabbed the third in the trilogy and scanned over the the last 4 pages. In the last four pages I learned what it took her 3 books to write. Sorry Lynn, but I don't think I'll be picking up any more of your novels.
Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,808 reviews797 followers
February 17, 2017
I absolutely loved everything about this book! I definitely wasn't expecting it to be so good and so incredibly captivating! I thought it would lean more towards the romance aspect but I was pleased to find that it leaned way more towards the fantasy aspect! And it truly was a superb fantasy novel! The world building was absolutely brilliant and I found myself falling in love with the world the author created. I also really loved the cast of characters, they were each so original and brought so much to the story. I could go on and on about how amazing this book was but I'm stopping it here so I can dive right into the next book!
Profile Image for Amery Baker .
240 reviews4 followers
January 13, 2011
AGHHHH! I really wanted to like this book. In fact it took me until 3/4ths the way through to put it down. But only because the person who recommended it to me has recommended so many other amazing books. I started gagging at about 1/2 the way through. Okay, okay, they were going on a quest (I hate quests!) But I was going to overlook that, but the romance was "stick my finger down my throat"...blahhh. I normally love romance in fantasy books. I have tried to discover why it was so unrealistic to me. It is like the characters didn't fit. Or their thoughts didn't match their personality. Or their characterization was not well done.... And how many times do we have to go over the fact that she didn't like magic and he was afraid of her.... move on Kurland! Cut out all the unecessary words and fluff and this book could have been told in 3 chapters. Maybe the romance would have been more exciting.
Forgive my ranting. I should have just given one star and moved on, but I had to express my opinion.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,127 reviews2,172 followers
August 2, 2016
If Graceling and Mystic & Rider, two of my favorite fantasy novels of ALL TIME, were to (somehow!) have a love child, Star of the Morning would be the result. Kurland's foray into fantasy is reminiscent of Sharon Shinn's prose, which is how I knew even from the first few pages that I would love this story. The opening chapters include a king who loses his magic, a warrior shield-maiden who is entrusted with a magical dagger to deliver to said king, and a powerful mage who protects the realm from the evil of Lothar, a black mage, but just barely.

Morgan, the heroine of our story, is so similar to Katsa from Kristin Cashore's Graceling; she's strong, deadly with her sword, and shies away from magic and romance. But she cannot refuse a request from Nicholas, her foster father, and finds herself, for the first time since she was brought to the island of Melksham, making the sea voyage to the Nine Kingdoms. Her group, three mercenary friends who she would entrust with her life and the king and archmage of Tor Neroche, who she believes are simple farmers, make their way across the vast expanse of land to reach the palace of Tor Neroche. Their journey, banter, and adventures reminded me of Mystic & Rider. Nevertheless, despite the fact that elements of its tale harken to other stories, Star of the Morning is thrilling and original in its own right.

The heart of this story lies in the slow-burn romance between Morgan and Miach, the archmage of Neroche. Miach and his brother, the king, are seeking a powerful mage who can help them against Lothar, particularly as the king has lost his magic, which is how they find themselves traveling with Morgan and her group. Along the way, though, they find that Morgan may be more than she seems to be, at first glance, and certainly far more powerful than she thinks she is. Miach and Morgan's relationship over the course of the novel is one that changes from distrust to friendship and eventually the hints of something more. Kurland is a master at showing, not telling, us the affection and depth of understanding that lies between these two characters. It's impossible not to love them and the surefire perfection that will be their relationship, once they jump through a few more hurdles.

The plot, in and of itself, remains slight--small trips here and there to obtain supplies, vicious attacks that slowly reveal at the overarching arc, and plot twists that are not unpredictable but still come as a surprise. Certainly, this novel has a complete story arc--it achieves its goal--but it is not action-packed. The characters are the strength of this novel and for that, I loved it. I will say, though, that Morgan's three mercenary friends who accompany them on their travels are un-fleshed-out secondary characters. In fact, their personalities were all so similar that they could have been the same person, every time. With that exception, Star of the Morning is a wonderful addition to the fantasy genre--its world-building is impressive, the majority of its secondary characters very distinct personalities, and its hero and heroine are magnificent. I look forward to following these already beloved characters and seeing them grow and overcome adversity in the sequels.
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
3,000 reviews1,643 followers
September 15, 2015
I really enjoyed this book. When making the decision to buy it, I noticed that a number of reviewers were dismissive of it because of the heavy romance influence. They felt it was a fantasy-flavored romance novel rather than a romance-flavored fantasy. I pulled the trigger on purchasing largely because this intrigued me. I mean, I like both genres and couldn't care less which dominates.

If you're curious, I disagree with those dismissing the novel—at least for my own tastes. Yes, like the force in Luke Skywalker, the romance is strong in Star of the Morning. And it's a wonderful romance. Morgan falling in love was a hoot. And I really liked Miach (whose name I can only read as "Micah" in my head). But, while important to the characters, it doesn't dominate the story or plot nor does it warp the setting. Indeed, I wish it had conformed more to romance convention

The thing I disliked most about the book was Morgan's irrational hatred of all things magical. In a world of active, observable magic, her reaction is as illogical as it is impractical. Mages shape a good part of her world and insisting that they're all unreliable and "unmanly" flies directly in the face of the historical record. After all, the biggest threat to the stability of the realm is a magical one and the more good guys who can fight on that front, the better, I'd think. Morgan is otherwise a highly practical, even utilitarian, person. Having such a debilitating, deliberate blind spot weakened my respect for her and disconnected me from her as a character.

Morgan's blind spot with magic excepted, the story was a fun ride and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book. I really liked Morgan as a character and can’t wait to see her progress now that she is irrevocably pushed out of her comfort zone. Her magical heritage is undeniable by the end of the book (hardly a spoiler as that heritage is clear from early pages) and she is going to have to learn to confront/accommodate it or risk both her love and her kingdom. For someone used to fighting solely on a physical plane, that is going to be a huge adjustment to make.
Profile Image for Angie.
645 reviews1,013 followers
July 30, 2010
I had never read anything by Lynn Kurland prior to picking up STAR OF THE MORNING. I had never even heard of her before, due to the fact that she writes primarily historical romance and I just rarely find myself reading in that genre. But my eye caught on the cover as I walked through the romance aisle at Borders to get to the fantasy/scifi section. And something made me pause. It's always that dangerous pause that gets you, isn't it? If the book can just get a toehold on my attention, I'm so often a goner. I reach out, picked it up, and read the back and wondered. It's a fairly dreamy, idealized cover and not exactly my favorite. But I liked that it was just the girl and her sword. And when I saw the word "mercenary" on the back I just sort of knew I would like her. And perhaps she doesn't always wear flowing garments of blue. So I took it home with me and am so glad I did. Because this is an absolutely delightful series and one that deserves a wider readership. STAR OF THE MORNING is the first in the Nine Kingdoms trilogy. It was published just four years ago and both of the other two books are also out in paperback so now is really the perfect time to jump in and give it a shot. It's straight-up high fantasy, with a nice romance tucked in there and very deft, wonderful writing.

Morgan of Melksham is not pleased. After putting in her time, serving years as an elite mercenary, she is reduced to messenger status. As a favor to her old friend and mentor Sir Nicholas, she agrees to deliver a sword of some note to the King of Neroche. Mystified as to why it should have anything to do with her, Morgan is somewhat mollified to be joined by a few of her longtime compatriots. To balance this out, however, she is also joined by an annoyingly pompous lad by the name of Adhemar and--shortly thereafter--by his somewhat less pompous younger brother Miach. Together, the assorted companions set out to see the blade safely to its rightful owner. And Morgan is forced to bite her tongue and see the job through, despite her lifelong hatred of all things magical and her legendary inability to suffer fools (such as Adhemar) gladly. Miach, on the other hand, becomes a friend. With his easy manner and utterly unrefined approach to life, he manages to make stoic Morgan smile, even laugh once or twice. And the journey seems somehow less taxing with him along. But their task becomes more urgent as they encounter various ominous portents along the way. Something--something dark--is seeping across the border into Neroche. And the only hope the king has is getting that sword into the hands of its destined wielder. If Morgan and her friends don't make it in time, all hell might literally break loose.

The writing is what first made a favorable impression on me. It's honestly so light and sinuous that you don't even notice it. In the best way, it propels the story forward, never standing out garishly or halting along blandly. It allows the characters to stand out and shine. And they really do. Morgan is often frustrated and cranky at her present lot in life. Beautiful and ruthless, she has trouble dealing with those more frivolous and less dedicated than she is. But there is a history there as well. So many interesting questions as to how she ended up with the life that she did. Why she was raised by Sir Nicholas and why he sent her on this quest. It all amounts to the reader not really believing her gruff exterior and happily so. Then there is Miach. And Miach is perfectly delightful from top to bottom. If you don't like Miach, there might be something wrong with you. It is a pleasure watching him exasperatedly deal with his windbag brother at the same time as he plies sword-for-hire Morgan with jokes and compliments and attempts to get her to relax for one minute. This is a proper quest tale and, as I am a fan of such when they are well done, I loved going along for the ride. The characters are witty and up for anything and the world itself is twisty and turny and full of a long history of alternately dastardly and noble rulers. No one is exactly who they say they are, of course. And it all builds up to a very startling climax. Just when you think what you were hoping would happen will, in fact, happen--the threads of the tale are flung far and wide across the whole of the Nine Kingdoms and you are left gasping at the implications. I had to wait a year for the sequel. There was grumbling involved. But I will tell you that it was completely and utterly worth it, as The Mage's Daughter is a worthy successor in every way and sits contentedly on my Beloved Bookshelf. If you haven't run across this series before, I do hope you give it a try. It is a comfort read, uncomplicated but lovely, full of characters who will work their way into your affections. Highly recommended, particularly for fans of Sharon Shinn and Robin McKinley.

Reading Order: STAR OF THE MORNING, The Mage's Daughter, and Princess of the Sword
Profile Image for Mfelovesstories:).
137 reviews2 followers
November 16, 2015
I'm a big fan of fantasy but this book was a total letdown. Where do I start?

First of all, character consistency, poor. Adhemar started out as an interesting, strong character but ended up being stupefied throughout the entire book, why? The flaws Morgan kept pointing out were completely useless to the story.
I must add that the whole quest thing where Adhemar is to find the wielder(of the great and mighty sword - which broke in one instance) is just silly. How is he supposed to know the wielder? How is he or she identified? No clue! So even when they meet it becomes a completely irrelevant, endless tug-of-war.

Now there's Morgan. Annoying, annoying, annoying. Oh and annoying. Why should we like her? Because she fights well? Why? Why? Why? There's nothing endearing us to all her strength and muscle. Completely nothing! So if a reader can't like her, how come Miach is so carried away and by what, he can't even say.

Then Glines and Camid, I mistook their identities till the end of the book. Paien, OK, matured father figure, I let that pass. Fletcher, who's child is this? Why does he feature? Call his mum to take him home.

Zero imagery. I struggled but couldn't picture a single thing. The time frame is just crazy. Somehow, Nicholas appears at the castle just when Lothar harms Morgan. Like how?

Miach, oh, Miach! Believe me I genuinely wanted to like his character. Nice, sweet and kind boy. Even winning over Morgan the Angry. Then why the continuous feud with Adhemar even to throwing punches? Threw me off without a way for redemption, AT ALL!

I have to ask, why are people keeping thoughts for later? LOL! I rest my case.

This surely has a sequel but it's a poor, unencouraging start.
Profile Image for Gundega (Rouzmary).
340 reviews93 followers
February 25, 2017
Lynn Kurland did not disappoint me.
The magic she wove on me in A Whisper of Spring and The Tale of the Two Swords was very much alive in Star of the Morning.

I do believe Kurland might be one of those amazing people with magic hands

All right. The story.
Obviously one should read the prequels aforementioned for they are all intertwined and awesome yet charming to boot.

Meet Morgan. ...wait that's characters, oh well, whatever. ahem, I meant, must be fate XD
So - meet Morgan, our main character and your regular everyday shieldmaiden who wields sword better than every man she's ever met (probably better than 90 if not 99...ok, 97% of all men in the whole world, really) and wipes the floor with them without breaking a sweat.
Morgan might as well be warrior princess, her sword skills are top notch bad-ass what with all the training she's had
While unexpected magical swords may hinder her travels some (a whole lot) with their calling & singing to her & disturbing dreams when she hates all things magical and make her seem not quite herself, the girl will still tell you like it is and not fall for a pretty face. You go girl!

The book introduced to us at the very beginning Adhémar - the current king of Neroche, and boy, am I glad he's not the main hero, he's got growing up to do till that honor if ever. The good yet good for nothing king who's oh so happy his reign has been peaceful and slightly bored for it. So peaceful in fact that he's grown so slack and in the end (the beginning) lost his magic. Due to foul means of course, but whatever. I for sure wouldn't want him as my king if evil lurks around. We'd be doomed. A pretty face with some sword skills and a love of boasting.
No, you're not. Now, shut up.
I loved every moment when he got ignored or made fun of XD Good thing he's got an archmage to save the day kingdom. Which leads us to:

Miach or full name Mochriadhemiach (which no one can say without mispronouncing and that <-- was said by people in the book and I wholeheartedly agree with them). The archmage of the realm. And the king's youngest brother. Our hero. Boy, am I glad he is, cuz for some pages it had me terrified that Adhémar would be the one. He might not be as good with sword (thou certainly better than his brother), but he's got plenty of magic & brains. Miach ain't no fool. And neither is he an ass or a jerk. Or an over domineering alpha. Gotta love Miach ;)

Then we've also got Morgan's sidekicks who come along for the journey and they were an entertaining enough of a bunch ^^

The Story:
While our King Adhémar of Neroche encounters an enemy that steals his magic & the magic of his sword - the king's sword - thus making his brother Miach - the archmage - push him to go on a search for the one who can wield the other magical sword so that they may protect their kingdom from the dark mage Lothar - their great uncle times removed - or whatever other evil might try to encroach on their land while Miach figures out a way to combat it, our shieldmaiden Morgan is tasked by her father figure Nicholas to go on a journey to deliver a sword to the King of Neroche so that he may save the kingdom. As it would happen, along her way she encounters Adhémar disguised as commoner and her fellow mates whom were also tasked by Nicholas to accompany her. Later on Miach would also join them in disguise cuz he got tired of waiting for Adhémar to return and so the merry bunch goes on their way and fights off a bunch of mysterious monsters now and then while also acquiring super awesome horses (I want one too).

The rest is spoilers, so just go read it yourself :D
Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and Kurland had me completely spellbound. It's been quite a while since I've read such an enjoyable tale of fantasy.

I'm sure there were (probably) things that might not have been as good or lacking, every book has them, but I seriously didn't notice them or care for them. The story & characters had me reading & enjoying the written words, soooo... ;)
Oh yeah, story aside for right now I truly can't think of anything that would've bothered me, it had some misspellings here and there, but one really just could look back a second and realise it should've been this or that, one wrong letter, so other than that, and even that barely got a second glance from me, nothing bothered me.

Edit: This morning (next after I read the book) I finally thought of smt that had me rolling my eyes and wondering - seriously, like seriously? - while reading it, and while that might not be quite what one might consider plot hole/bad writing etc it really had me rofl-ing...sort of, in annoyance XD
Case in point: Morgan gets hurt/injured/ill/not gonna say precisely cuz spoiler and instead of treating her immediately Miach has a talk with a certain someone whether he is who he says he is and whether he can heal her. ...Really? You both care for the girl and yet neither thought to treat her immediately, but rather have a talk over who's better suited to do it? Did they not think she just might die while they do it? You've got no idea how hurt she is, yet decide instead to have a little chat. Damn, but I wouldn't want to be Morgan in that situation, just might end up six feet under until they're done ;p

If you love tales of swords, magic, monsters, evil, good, royalty, fate, quest and some romance and tales themselves I most heartily recommend it, this is it.
And even if you don't love this stuff, give it a try anyway ;p
Profile Image for Laura (Kyahgirl).
2,094 reviews143 followers
November 1, 2017
3/5; B
Narrated by Laura Jennings. Her whispery voice drove me nuts at first but I got used to it. This was a slow moving but solid fantasy story that managed to keep my interest.
Profile Image for Megan.
222 reviews47 followers
June 22, 2017
Wow, what a great adventure story! I absolutely loved this book. It is so well written and the author has a wry sense of humor that is sprinkled throughout. The characters and setting are so well done. It has a sweet romance. By the end of the story I was on the edge of my seat! I need to read the next books now! I would rate it PG for some swear words. Thanks Leah for the recommendation and the book!
Profile Image for Merb.
544 reviews40 followers
January 26, 2021
Ugh this hurts. I really wanted this to be a new all time favorite, but it just missed a few things for me.
This is a romance fantasy between a grouchy merchant and kind archmage/prince. The plot line is very traditional medieval fantasy, with a quest to find the chosen wielder of a magical sword to defeat the dark mage.

The plot was interesting, but suffered from lackluster pacing and structure. There were no battles or obstacles throughout the story with failures and backlashes. It kind of just... followed the characters on their quest, talking... it was odd. I don’t think I’ve read a book like this before. The romance was also strangely written, as it was not shown in swoony scenes but internal dialogue of the characters thinking things like, ‘he’s really kind, I rather like him,’ again, odd choice. I did like the characters themselves, and with the interesting plot line I do plan to continue, but I was just super disappointed overall.
Profile Image for Ronda  Tutt.
836 reviews52 followers
September 2, 2013
Archmage's are more than fantasy they are romantic!

What an awesome read, I totally loved this fantasy read. The story starts off the story with the introduction about a king with magical powers who suddenly loses power and therefore leaving the reader thinking that the story is going to be about a king looking to restore his powers and will probably have to find a mate to regain his powers but NO NO NO - PSYCH! LOL

In the end yes the story in around about way is about the king's power but the King's brother Miach, also known as the Archmage of the Nine Kingdom stills the show when he meets his match Morgan the kick ass Mercenary who is not only breath taking beautiful but can yield a sword and fight better than any man in the kingdom.

The story had me captivated with the mysterious powers of evil about, the spells to counter the evil, the creatures of magic, and most of all the bantering between all the characters.

I loved the spark and humor between Morgan and Miach - totally beautiful - I fell in love immediately. Morgan though has a mystery of her own that kept me glued to the pages.

There is one small flaw to the story and that is that the story doesn't end in this book and the reader is left hanging just before the climax of the story. I was shocked and had to buy the second story in the series "The Mage's Daughter" immediately to find out what happens next.

Talking about Hook Line and Sinker - yep I'm addicted - actually the author is fantastic with the way she writes and every word was visionary brilliance and had me feeling I was there among the characters and the action through out the whole book.

Excellent Read!
Profile Image for Lover of Romance.
2,989 reviews869 followers
July 3, 2022
Star of the Morning was such an interesting beginning to a fantasy romance. There is a strong focus of world-building in this story and the romance is a more slow burn and a friends to lovers. We don't really see much of their relationship as they don't meet until the latter half of the story, but we do see a solid friendship that has been formed between them. I am glad that I listened to this as the start of it worked slowly but I am really fascinated to see where this series will go and what we are seeing in the Nine Kingdoms. I did enjoy both characters, I feel like they compliment each other so well and I love how they respond to each other. Very intrigued in seeing their story unfold in future books.
Profile Image for Jaime (Two Chicks on Books).
825 reviews399 followers
December 24, 2016
I'm so glad I picked this up! What an awesome high fantasy! I've got my fingers crossed for some romance in book 2. The romantic tension was awesome but I need more!
Profile Image for A B.
1,148 reviews14 followers
October 20, 2014
Zero - and I mean zero - world building. No rules, no physical descriptions, nothing. Curious as to what the Nine Kingdoms are? Too bad, because you won't find out. The first chapter starts out well enough, though it is quite a lot of action all at once. Sort of an action dump instead of the ubiquitous info dump. All we really learn is that there's a king and his much nicer younger brother who can shapeshift into a hawk. All is peaceful in the kingdom until he's randomly attacked by some equally random villains (who are, of course, never explained) and his magic sword won't work. That means that he must go on a good ole quest to find someone to wield a sword again that will bring magic back...or something like that. A bit too much like "The Sword and the Stone", but oh well.

The book then switches over to Morgan, a sort of swordswoman who is visiting her beloved adoptive father. He gives her a dagger and tells her to give it to the king. She's royally annoyed that she had to come home because of what exactly? She was interrupted from something? Who knows. Again, don't waste time wondering. I get it, she has a murky past, but where exactly has she been since she left home?

She stumbles upon the king-in-disguise and promptly mugs him, but feels an odd attraction to him. Suddenly, several of her pals pop up. Yep, we've got a giant/barbarian, a dwarf, and an elf. And a plucky kid. We're also not going to learn jack about them. What follows is essentially a long camping trip. No descriptions of food, luggage, or anything else about their trip to make it believable. Characters keep secrets and conceal identities for no reason. Keep in mind I've only described the first three chapters and aside from the final, these are the most interesting.

I think this mess is what happens when a romance writer tries her hand at fantasy without knowing what fantasy is. It's a shame, because the last chapter or so was enjoyable. Really, you could read the first 50 and last 20 pages of the book and not miss a thing.
Profile Image for Allison.
554 reviews574 followers
April 23, 2017
This is an enjoyable Romantic Fantasy series, but it's definitely more on the Romance end of the scale so you have to be in the right mood for it. I found myself wishing the world and secondary characters were a bit more defined, and that the magic and adventure were more prominent. But the huge focus is definitely the relationship.

To illustrate the lack of detail, at one point I was reminded that one of the characters is a dwarf, and only because he was referred to as a dwarf. Even now I can't remember which character it is. He was just as nondescript as the other supporting characters. There was also little explanation of the magic system or the makeup of the Nine Kingdoms. You just have to figure it out as you go along, but even the areas that they travel through lack much detail. (This does improve a little bit in the second book). So it's not the most intricate fantasy world. But still I liked it. Just be aware that this is definitely fluff, and not the highest quality stuff. Sometimes that's just fine.

If you don't like Romances, you should probably avoid this. If you do, this one is made more interesting by the magical setting and the quest that is the backdrop for a sweet romance.

You also should know that the ending is really only the beginning, and both this book and the next one have cliffhanger endings. I ended up wanting to read them all straight through as if the trilogy was a single book.
April 8, 2020
Overall: DNF at 50%. A great premise for a fantasy romance that falls flat in execution.

I was excited by a warrior woman/scholarly man romance, and I didn’t mind that the heroine had some internalized sexism. It seemed realistic to me and reminded me of one of my favorite characters from childhood, Alias from Azure Bonds which was my introduction to non-Tolkien or - CS Lewis fantasy. Unfortunately, I’ll never know if the heroine grew into a better, more accepting person or stayed flawed because I gave up at 50%.

The best word I can use to describe this is “featureless.” Nothing has any detail; it’s like reading stage directions. The reader doesn’t know what any characters look like, what the setting looks like, how anyone talks, what food they eat, how combat goes, nothing. We’re told that our heroine Morgan wins duels and battles, but we aren’t shown how. We don’t even really get a description of the season or weather, and this has been almost entirely a road trip novel, soooo knowing whether it’s hot or cold or pleasant or an apocalyptic sandstorm would add some much needed flavor.

The hero, Miach, is a scholar and a wizard and seems like the outline of a sweet, scholarly hero but we aren’t shown anything about him besides the fact that he’s protective of his kingdom and thinks the heroine Morgan is the hottest thing ever.

In short, this is a story told in summary. I gave it a fair chance, but it never really developed into an actual narrative.
Profile Image for Debbie.
3,275 reviews61 followers
November 28, 2008
This is a "romance fantasy," where the book has a strong romance in a fantasy setting. The world-building is fairly good, and the characters are engaging. The pacing is good, and every scene serves a purpose. There are no explicit sex scenes, but the hero and heroine do kiss. The magic is of the typical fantasy sort, allowing a man to shape-change or be "invisible" or such.

As primarily a fantasy reader, I've always been disappointed that romance authors who try their hand at writing fantasy inevitably assume that "fantasy" means "doesn't have to be realistic." Yet the non-fantastical parts of a fantasy novel have to be solidly realistic in order to sell the reader on the fantastical parts. Lynn Kurland does a good job at keeping the realistic parts realistic and building an interesting fantasy world. (The one glaring example of where she flubs on realism is when she has Morgan, who's never been close to a horse before, able to ride, groom, tack, etc., a horse with expert skill the moment she comes in contact with it and without an lessons.)
Profile Image for Anne.
57 reviews23 followers
March 12, 2010
I thought this was kind of a fun book and I really enjoyed reading it!

What I did Like:

* likable characters
* cute (and clean) love story...the best part of the book I might add =)
* fun story line
* kept me interested, I love books that keep me up reading (ha, like it is the books fault!)

What I didn't Like:

It was a tad bit predictable. I am not a big fan (as I have said before) of authors who feel they have to foreshadow upcoming events. And this book had some major foreshadowing that I felt could have been easily left out...there were a couple times I had to roll my eyes, and there were 2 pages I just wanted to rip out and I thought that in and of itself would have improved the book greatly. (pg 234-235 if you are wondering) ha ha. The author is a bit repetitive and I don't know how many times the characters "pursed their lips" (that drove me nuts)

June 18, 2018
It is a fascinating read how the molecules of water are affected by our thoughts, words and feelings. Positive words create beautiful crystals. Negative words show distorted images.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,299 reviews
October 1, 2015
3.5 stars

Most people at times jump to conclusions. In this story, obvious conclusions had to chase down the characters and repeatedly hit them over the head with a clue stick. This sort of thing usually annoys the cr@p out of me, but in Star of the Morning, it was so blatant and so imbued with humor that I quite happily went along with the ruse.

The premise of the story is described well in the teaser. In many ways it's your standard fantasy tale with a kingdom beset by evil, seeking the one hero/ine from apparently humble circumstances who, unbeknownst to him/her, desperately is needed to save the realm. The charm of this story is its take on those characters and their interactions. Morgan is a kick-ass mercenary who is fierce, loyal, and completely unaware of her own magic and beauty. Gag me, right? But somehow it works, with her valiantly protecting all the menfolk around her and helpfully advising Miach, the lord archmage who is hiding his identity and his growing love for Morgan, on how to be more manly and repeatedly telling the king, who also is hiding his identity, what a complete jackass he is. There are some likeable sidekicks and more serious plotlines and emotional arcs that balance the humor for a very enjoyable light fantasy tale.

On to the next book in the series...
Profile Image for Pip.
90 reviews
August 31, 2022
Glad I found this series because I really enjoyed this book as it's exactly what I'm trying to find more of when it comes to adult fantasy style books. The banter between Morgan and Micah was everything and I love how their relationship developed over the course of the book. This book was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to the rest of them!
66 reviews
December 5, 2014
This book was absolutely amazing. As someone who loves fantasy and was looking for a romance that was not based solely on sex, this book fit the bill perfectly.

What I loved most about this book were the characters. Morgan and Miach are so richly developed and so strong that I felt I really knew them. Their love story was tender and set at a perfect pace for two who had never given much thought to love before. I love the moments of interaction between them because each one was precious.

Not only is the romance well-written, but the plot of the book is good too. The book is a journey, but just the beginning of one I might add, and I could hardly put it down because I wanted to know what was happening. As the events surrounding the characters are shrouded in mystery, I found myself wanting to know just as badly what was happening. But never did Kurland withhold information from the reader that a character already knew. In addition, the dramatic irony that permeates the story is absolutely delicious, and the book is peppered with moments that made me laugh or chuckle.

I can't wait to read the next one!
Profile Image for Lyndi W..
2,045 reviews193 followers
Shelved as 'd-n-f'
July 11, 2014
Trying to read this was an exercise in frustration. The reviews make it sound amazing, and maybe it is. But not at the beginning.

Our hero is sexist, rude, entitled and clueless. Our heroine is stubborn, cruel, and intolerant. I honestly preferred the secondary characters.

I was under the impression that this would be somewhat similarly themed as the Tairen Soul series, which is one of my favorites. And it's totally possible that the story gets better. I just can't stand our H/h enough to find out.

Profile Image for Kelsey | Kipperblossom.
69 reviews1 follower
February 16, 2016
This book was so frustrating for so many reasons. It was so horribly written. It had moments where it was funny, and after a while the story became engaging (no it didn't. It was the stupidest plot line ever. I just cared about the romance because I like romance, even though that was terrible too). I feel like it could have been really fabulous, but the ideas were just not fleshed out enough. However, I'm irritatingly intrigued and I do want to know what happens next. So it has that much going for it. Good on you, terrible book.
Profile Image for Anna (Bobs Her Hair).
917 reviews194 followers
June 8, 2018
This book felt dated and flat. It was a very very light read. Creatures with very little description pop up. I still have no idea what they look like. The romance was lackluster. It’s a long wait for the characters to get up to speed with the reader.

“Star of the Morning” receives much love from readers. I missed the appeal. I’m glad I borrowed it from my public digital library.

library eloan
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
396 reviews1 follower
January 17, 2022
Read this in a single day, stayed up until 230am to finish it this morning and am fuming that the library doesn't own the rest of the trilogy, so I ordered used copies of the whole thing and have to wait, waaaahhh.

This reminded A LOT of Tamora Pierce. It's not a heavy fantasy (thank god) but with enough magic, monsters, and villains to be a fantasy. There's not a lot of worldbuilding, either, and it is basically about a very, very long walk across countries. Heck, she doesn't even describe or name the monsters that attack them, they're just "creatures." But there IS ~romance~ and it's gooooood and worth the focus of the book. There's great chemistry between the two, it's not weird or abusive, and you switch internal dialogue viewpoints of the two, which makes it extra adorable and is surprisingly not disorienting. It's mostly dialogue than worldbuilding-prose but the banter between all the characters is fun/funny and engaging.

Again, it reminded me A LOT of Tamora Pierce & her Tortall books - romance, hilarious banter, fun characters, fantasy. Miach & Morgan reminded me a lot of Numair/Daine, even tho they're completely different characters. Miach plays the role of magical scholar, trying to teach Morgan (all the while hiding that he's a mage, she hates magic.) And she's had a traumatic childhood and is discovering her powerful background. He's in love with her but hiding it, she slowly warms up to him. skfjkskfjs it's good.
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