At 16, young Emariya lives with her brother on the Warren estate. Her mother was killed when she was just a baby, and she and her brother escaped a similar fate thanks to her nurse, who cleverly hid them away. However, it has been two years since her father has disappeared, and Emariya is desperate to find a solution.
When offered to marry Prince Torian Ahlen of the neighbouring country, Riya refuses, as she does not believe she can marry a man she has never met, prince or no prince. But when rumours of her dad being alive come up, the young woman decides to go forth and makes the difficult decision to agree to the proposal.
The journey from her home to the castle proves more eventful than she wished for, between attacks, kidnappings and malevolent travellers. When eventually, Prince Ahlen comes to her rescue, Riya learns terrible secrets that are about to change her life.
Ok. Think George R.R. Martin. You visualise it yet? Epic travelling, great world building, incredible characters? Now think George R.R. Martin with no action. Got it? There. You have Cornerstone. I’ve read several times that the book is slow going, and bloody hell, I cannot emphasise how slow it really goes. Cornerstone was painful to read, and if I hadn’t been stubborn, I would have stopped a while back (it took me 14 days to read the damn thing! FOURTEEN!).
There is no question that Walker has done a great job with her countries, she’s got it sorted down to what kind of grain grows where. Impressive stuff, really. That said, I really wish we didn’t have to read ALL about whatever tiny slice of her made-up society comes up every time the protagonist does something or speaks to someone. It’s tiresome, it brings nothing to the book, and god knows how many times I have wanted to burn the thing.
The characters are bland. They’re nice enough, but all too common and slightly stereotypical. You have the silly servant, the enamoured best friend, the mean brother, and of course, the absolutely-beautiful-and-greatly-powerful-but-don’t-worry-she’- not-perfect heroine. Oh, sorry, I forgot the gorgeous and strong and clever and loving prince charming. Bleh.
Oh well, you get the idea, I didn’t really like Cornerstone. It tried well enough, but did not deliver. You get an extra long and boring ¾ of the book before you finally reach the twist. Now I’ll admit, it’s a pretty good twist and even as a seasoned fantasy reader, I did not see that one coming. Shame the rest of the book is so bland.