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The Ciphers of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #2) by Jeff Wheeler: A Book Review

The Ciphers of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #2)
Author: Jeff Wheeler
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: 47North
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: From the moment she was banished by her father, the king, Princess Maia journeyed to seek sanctuary at Muirwood Abbey, the epicenter of magic and good in the land. Now safe for the first time since her cruel abandonment, Maia must foster uneasy friendships with other girls training to be Ciphers: women who learn to read and engrave tomes of ancient power, despite the laws forbidding them to do so.

As Maia tries to judge whom to trust, she makes a shocking discovery: her destiny is to open the Apse Veil and release trapped spirits from her world. Then she learns that her father is coming to Muirwood Abbey to celebrate the Whitsunday festival—and Maia’s estranged husband, whom she was forced to abandon, will join him. Torn between deadly political machinations and unstoppable spiritual forces, Maia must channel unknown powers within herself to save her friends, the abbey, and the entire kingdom of Muirwood.
  
     My Review: The Ciphers of Muirwood picks up where The Banished of Muirwood left off. Maia is at Muirwood Abbey training to be a maston. She is destined to fulfill the prophecy of opening the Apse Veil and  release the spirits of the dead. One day, she encounters a few problems during her training. Her evil father is coming to Muirwood Abbey seeking to destroy it. Also, her husband has found her and seeks to take her back to his kingdom. Can Maia save Muirwood Abbey from being destroyed and fulfill her destiny?

Maia has grown more mature since the first book in the series. She is more responsible and has to make wise decisions. She learns to trust in her own instincts. She is also patient. Maia has done some mean things in her past, and she must atone for her actions. She must also learn to forgive others, especially those who were mean to her. Above all, she must forgive herself. Thus, Maia is a likable heroine that anyone can relate to. She has made some mistakes in the past, but she learns from them. She is always seeking to do the right thing.

Overall, this story is about friendship, love, trust, choice, and forgiveness. The message of this book is to believe in yourself. The story is slow-paced, for it focuses on the development of the characters. I found the world-building was more extensive than in the first book. The setting of the abbey is very lush. While this book is a fantasy, it is was loosely inspired by actual history, especially the story of Henry VIII and his first three wives. There are twists and turns in this book. The Ciphers of Muirwood is full of political intrigue, action, and suspense. It ends in a cliff-hanger and I am definitely excited to read the third and final book in this series. I recommend novel to anyone interested in English history, Game of Thrones, and suspense fantasy.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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