To prevent another war with Tira, Bayern agrees to an Ambassador exchange. Captian Talone and his group of twenty soldiers have to escort Lady Megina, the Ambassador, to Tira. Razo is happy to get chosen to be part of the group, but he's surprised. He's short but funny, likes to eat a lot of food, and better with a sling than a sword. He's not the greatest fighter ever. As they're traveling to Tira, he finds the first burnt body of a Tiran. After discoveries of more burnt bodies, Talone appoints Razo as a spy because of his keen observation. Now it's up to Razo to find out who's behind all of this before another war breaks out between Bayern and Tira...
Shannon Hale did a great job writing in a boy's perspective for the first time. Razo's such a funny character! He's short and has no special abilities like Isi or Enna, but he has a great sense of humor! Some examples of his humor:
"You're a Bayern," A freckled serving girl gaped, a smear of something fluffy across her cheek.
"I am?" Razo took the metal spoon from her hand and looked himself in its silvery spoon. "Nah, I couldn't be. Bayern aren't this good-looking."
"Who know what dangers you'll face?" Geric was saying. "We need boys who can keep a clear head, smart lads..."
That's two for me, Razo thought.
"...and strong, too..."
"...and good fighters."
Counts me out...
Well, there were a lot more and they were funnier too, but I can't find them anymore. These were the first two I thought of. (Oh, there's this hilarious scene where Razo accuses Enna of shrinking his pants.) Anyways, this was actually the first book where there's a mystery to be solved, and I liked that. Razo gets help from Enna and Finn and a new character Dasha, the daughter of Tiran's Ambassador, who has the power to control water. It was nice how Razo grew up throughout the book and realizes that you don't special abilites to be impressive. You can just be yourself. What I like the best about Shannon Hale's books are the characters. They're strong and they're well developed. They're believable and anyone can relate to them. Her stories are very enchanting too. :)
P.S. I adore Allison Jay's covers! They're all so beautiful but I especially like this cover!