author: J.D. Vaughn

ISBN-13: 978-1423169093

ISBN-10: 1423169093

Hardcover: 432 pages

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Reading level: Ages 10-14



In the peaceful realm of Tequende, all second-born children at the age of fifteen must journey to the Alcazar to fulfill the mandate of the Oath of Guilds. There they train to earn a place among the queen's legendary Second Guard, or work as indentured servants.

Talimendra has always wanted to join the Guard, but there are dark rumors in the queendom that she may not be ready for. Rumors that whisper of greed, traitors, and war.

There is very little time and too many unanswered questions, but one thing is for certain: if there is a traitor among the Second Guard, then everyone-including the queen-is in grave danger.

In the matrilineal monarchy of Tequende, when second-born children reach the tender age of 15, their families must surrender them to be trained as the mightiest soldiers in the land, known as the Second Guard. Talimendra Sanchez Kalloryn of the Sun Guild is one such recruit, sworn to uphold the Oath of Guilds to serve and protect the queen at all costs. Fellow recruits Zarif Baz Hasan of the Moon Guild and Chey Maconde of the Earth Guild join her to forge an earnest triumvirate supporting one another as fledgling warriors, up to and including their challenges at the Final Tournament. This realm's setting has a colonial Mesoamerican sensibility, with one city called New Seville and a small immigrant population of Arabites from the Far World. Socially, the Sun, Moon and Earth Guilds correspond to merchant, intellectual and working classes, each with its own culture and rituals. Tested via multiple, layered moral and ethical dilemmas that have modern resonance, Tali swings between moments of confusion ("What is true if everything I've been taught to believe is false?") and mildly subversive clarity ("Sometimes disobeying orders is the only way to follow them"). Vaughn is the pen name for Julia Durango and Tracie Zimmer, and working together, the two writers prove to be competent worldbuilders, cleverly introducing each chapter with a page of background out of a fictitious Tequende history book. A carefully crafted and empowering coming-of-age tale that adds welcome diversity to the fantasy shelves. (Fantasy. 11-14)


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Author & Teacher
Tracie Vaughn

J. D. Vaughn is the pen name of Julia Durango and Tracie Vaughn who are also writing partners. Julia is a former school librarian from Illinois and a winner of the Golden Kite Award. Tracie, a high school English teacher from Ohio, received critical acclaim and the Schneider Family Book Award. Together they share a love of travel, reading, chicken biscuits and the teenagers who call them Mom.

Who is 
J.D. Vaughn?

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