Matilde of House Svanaten has spent her life in training for when she will ascend the Turasi throne. If, in a nation balanced on a knife's edge, she can survive long enough to do so.
Her reputation carries the taint of a barbarian mother and a father executed for treason. Now, with Matilde's coronation two years past due and her indomitable grandmother still reluctant to hand over power, speculation abounds that she is unfit to rule, especially with the southern empire massing for invasion. As the Houses jockey for position ahead of the annual conclave, there are plenty who would shed no tears over her death.
Appearances, however, can be deceptive. Young and untested though she may be, Matilde is more than simply the sum of her parents' disparate cultures, and the rumours have fallen short of her true capabilities.
When a forceful new enemy strikes in a conflagration that shatters Matilde's entire world, she is left powerless — but far from helpless.
The story of an unbreakable young woman, The Binding is a study of what defines us, what binds us, and what sets us free.
…a striking, infuriating, endlessly surprising and wonderfully disturbing work, penned in prose whose clarity, wit and elegance more seasoned wordsmiths must dream about.
…Kalin's honest writing delivers a deeply human heroine, prey to fear, embarrassment and pride, and who, cornered with decisions upon which lives balance, doesn't always choose rightly. She feels real, though, and even if you bemoan her actions you'll understand them every time. As a study of an unbreakable young woman battling the manifold barriers that ensnare her, Shadow Queen succeeds as surely as we hope Matilde will.
Deborah Kalin is a newcomer to the world of fantasy and, judging by Shadow Queen, the first of a two-volume effort, she has a bright future. The book has strong narrative drive, a fiery protagonist and most importantly … it moves at a cracking pace.
Deborah Kalin's SHADOW QUEEN is totally brilliant — fascinating and often painful … unlike anything I've ever read before
Be prepared for a late night because this book is impossible to put down…If you enjoy reading fantasy fiction, you will love this book. If you have never tried fantasy, this is the perfect place to start. If you hate fantasy, this book will change your mind forever.
Shadow Queen is a fantastic book. It is magical, complex, deeply emotional and very dark… I was hooked in the first few pages.
This is strong, tense, economical yet poetic writing by first-time author Kalin, and her world is harsh and treacherous. Gripping. Highly recommended.
Deborah Kalin has hit the ground running with this superb fantasy … Her prose is flowing and deceptively easy to read, appearing artless even in passages that can, on closer investigation, be seen to be thoughtfully and cleverly constructed. Her descriptions are delicious.
Kalin's writing is smooth and effortless … The plot is engaging and fast-paced, making this book very difficult to put down … Deborah Kalin is an Australian talent to watch.
Kalin is a master of world building and her strengths as a writer lie in her ability to weave a complex plot complete with political turmoil and hard won alliances.
[Kalin's] characters are utterly real, so completely possessed of their own destinies, foibles, beliefs and motives that the idea of an author sitting down and planning their story feels almost…wrong. And yet, one has, and the longer I think about that fact, the more it becomes miraculous. The Binding is an incredible, beautifully written duoloy, and Deborah Kalin is a writer to watch.
…the intrigue and the lack of sentimentality of Game of Thrones, but …[with] the fast pacing of YA…
One of the strongest parts of this story is Matilde's character, which is one of the most believable female heroines I have encountered. Every move she makes is credible, and the responses of her adversaries are equally credible. This is rarer in fantasy than it should be. She is strong and smart, but she is not charmed or presciently brilliant. The actions she takes have prices. Also, I loved that in the whole book there is never an evaluation or even much of an impression of what she looks like physically, but you are so drawn into her situation and character that this never feels like a gap.
Ready to Buy?
Shadow Queen and Shadow Bound are published by Allen & Unwin, and are available in all bricks-and-mortar bookstores in Australia and New Zealand. If you can't find the book on the shelf, the store will be able to order it for you.
If you'd prefer to buy online, the most reliable source would be to order from Allen & Unwin directly (this links to my profile on the A&U site, and includes a list of my books). If you want to shop around, try the following sites (by no means a complete listing):