I pick The Order as the sleeper of my reading year!!
What I liked: Oh my, I really and sincerely enjoyed The Order. Ms Donaurbauer took me on a fantastic journey and I can't wait to see what happens next.
I'm not going to rehash what's covered in the synopsis. Just imagine knowing you are completely different from everyone in the world you've come into contact. Every person in the Kingdom has some shade of blond hair and yet, you and your father have dark brown. You know and learned you've magic in your body but are forced by your father (who also has magic) to hide it. You and your father are healers but can't openly use magic to heal or to hurt. You think it's unfair you can't use the magic to protect yourself but your father explains using "bad" magic has a price. The one and only time you use magic, dire circumstances occur.
This is what our main character, Eryn, is facing. In addition, she knows from her father that they come from a different Kingdom where magic is more accepted but used for self-gain and protection. Through a set of tragic acts, Eryn ends up alone as a teenager. She stays in her village to continue her father's healing practice. Then through an accident her village turns her into the King. And there the real part of the story begins!
Ms Donaurbauer is a fantastic storyteller. When I first saw The Order on NetGalley I was a bit torn but ended up being enthralled, through the whole book. Everything in the book fell into place. You had the back story on the two main characters, Eryn and Enric, the jump to present day and the struggles Eryn faces. She's a very strong character and more than once confuses and confounds her captors. And yet, they are more than intrigued by her lack of training in using her powers to protect the Kingdom, after all, that's all Magicians are good for, right?
All the Magicians in the Kingdom work for the King to protect him and the Kingdom. Of course politics enter into the power struggle between the Magicians and the King's current advisers. Through all that, Eryn is being taught more about her powers in fighting and protection. She totally thinks it's a waste as all she wants to do is treat and heal individuals who need her more than the Kingdom needs another Magician warrior.
Not only does Ms Donaurbauer have a special hand in world building, her characters (all of them) are been surely and completely developed. I know it's hard in a first book but The Order is a bit longer than what I currently read. Each character is meticulously developing. I found myself laughing with them, worrying as they worry and connecting with each one of them; good and bad.
What I didn't like: This is the first book in the series and was just released in August, I don't like not knowing when the next book is coming out!!!
Overall, I could go on and on about The Order but instead will recommend it to epic/urban fantasy lovers!