Synopsis: Twenty-year-old Ryiah is a black mage of Combat, but she’s not the Black Mage. Yet. She’s had her eyes on the legendary robe for as long as she can remember, and in just one year, she will have a chance at her country’s prestigious—and only—tourney for war mages… Too bad she is going up against a certain prince—the one person she has yet to beat.
The Candidacy finally arrives and a winner is robed, but something dark is lurking in her kingdom’s midst. Rival nations are closing in, and it’s time to make an alliance.
Unfortunately for Ryiah, that’s only the beginning. The worst enemy resides in the palace.
Overview: Holy crap, this book was a step up in terms of story from the previous one. The pacing was so much better, there was way more happening, and the best of all, Ryiah’s story became more than just her own. I learnt so much more about other characters and how their roles played a part in the bigger story. It was amazing.
What I loved about the book: As just mentioned, I really enjoyed getting to know more about the other characters. Both Darren’s and Blayne’s backstories broke my heart. Knowing what they had gone through and who they’d become made so many things click. I love Darren so much more now. But who wouldn’t after reading Candidate?
I was awed by how much I could feel Ryiah’s emotions. They were so raw and powerful, and they broke through the pages and tore into my heart. I had to take so many breaks while reading this just to clearly process how Ryiah was feeling at times. She’d gone through so much in this book. Rachel E. Carter really stepped up her game in this aspect.
Highlight to read spoilers: Alex and Derrick. While I am absolutely furious at what they did and how they behaved towards Ryiah, these events seemed to be painfully essential for Ryian’s revelation about Blayne (in Derrick’s case) and what’s to come (in Alex’s case). I’ve this sick feeling that Darren will be devastated about Ryiah being a rebel now, and I’m so worried for them. I don’t want anything bad to happen to these babies; they’ve been through enough!
Favourite passage: The young man broke into a grin, dimples on each side of his cheeks. “Ry! There you are. I’ve been looking all over for you!” I squeaked and threw myself at him. Derrick was three years younger than my twin and me, but already twice as thick—sprouting a legion of muscle on every inch of his frame. “Gods, do you ever stop growing?”
Derrick ruffled my hair, setting me down with an unapologetic grin. “I have no intention of stopping until you can fit in the palm of my hand.”
What didn’t work for me: The inconsistencies in format bothered me. Capitalisation for ‘Your Majesty’, ‘Your Highness’, and ‘Your Grace’ was not always there. Sometimes only the first letter was capitalised, sometimes the first letter in both words were not, sometimes they both were. The grammatical errors, which had greatly improved in the second book, were back again in Candidate. The more glaring ones were in the first paragraph of Chapter 10 and around Loc 4724. Other than these, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Conclusion: The ending of this book left me screaming internally. I want to know what happens next so badly yet I don’t want to in fear of what’s next. The next book will also be the last (apart from Non-Heir), and I’m just not ready for this series to end yet. Everyone needs to give this series a go.