Aly chafes at her life as a young noble, despite boyfriends and parties and helping her father, the spymaster of Tortall, work. She knows everything there is to know about being a spy, and she's ready to work in the field. Too bad her mother, Alanna, and her father believe that she's still too young for a such a dangerous profession.
But Aly gets her wish sooner than expected when she is kidnapped by pirates and sold into the Copper Isles as a slave. The Isles are in political turmoil: for centuries, the pale-skinned luarin invaders have kept the copper-skinned native raka in slavery and submission. But with the power-hungry luarin royal family going mad, the time is ripe for revolution. Or at least that's what Kyprioth, the trickster god, thinks. He makes a wager with Aly, an agreement that she will keep his chosen half-raka candidate for the throne alive. Aly will have to keep the young noblewoman alive through treachery, danger, and war, all while keeping her own identity a secret...
I've read several of Pierce's other books, so I was already familiar with the world of Torrall. This is an excellent installment in the series, introducing a whole new part of the world and a whole new cast (although with cameos with several characters from other novels of Tortall.) It was clever, exciting, and really interesting, definitely a book I'd recommend to anybody.
The plot is at once simple and complex. The world-building is phenomenal, the politics and adventure and intrigue all fascinating. And Aly's little side romance is cute and utterly believable.
Aly was interesting - at the beginning of the story, she's a bit of a brat, even a little shallow. But she grows and matures remarkably over the course of the story. She's funny, likable, and an enjoyable main characters. Nawat, her crow/human love interest, was adorable. The side characters, even the villains, were multidimensional, flawed, interesting, and felt like real people. Amazing characterization.
I love Pierce's writing.
End Result: five stars. An excellent book. Read it.