Elena would do anything to escape the Pit and establish a new life for her and Rose, even stealing from the Temple of the Sun priests. She thought she was able to do it until she went to sell it to the buyer, and he betrayed her. Now the priests has forced her to join a race for a magical stone with the promise of releasing her and Rose unharmed. There is a secret to Elena that no one else in the race knows about, she has magic and possibly the power to overcome the priests. Soon Elena finds herself in the middle of a rebellion against the priests and struggle for power. All the while coming to terms with her new-found gifts and accepting who she has to become in order to accomplish her task.
This was a fairly easy book to read as it basically gives the reader a play by play of what is happening. The sentences are very short and sequential. "I shifted nervously. The wound at the back on my neck throbbed. The pain was increasing as we neared the city." While this makes the book easy to follow and understand, it makes it feel like the reader is being spoon fed information. This happened and then this happened and then this....Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading this book, I think there were ways to accomplish the same thing without it feeling completely laid out. Elena is an interesting character in that her magic is different from what have seen in other fantasy novels. She has the ability to weld any weapon and is immune to other magic. Richardson does a good job at bringing that ability to life in her character and the misunderstanding some of the people have towards magic-users. I liked how she showed prejudice through this, once the other members of the race found out she was a magic user they reacted to her differently treated her worse than they did when they thought she was just a peasant woman.
There were times when it felt like I had already read this book, the idea of a woman being chosen to be the king/priest's champion to capture a magical relic and discovers magic within herself. It felt like it's been done before. BUT, Richardson takes that idea and creates something new and unique with it. Some things were a little predictable like Mad Jack being a part of a rebellion within the Pit or Prince Landon betraying her, but any reader could see these things happening as we begin to feel like we are inside Richardson's head with this book. We can see clearly her intent with the storyline and what she was doing. There was no room for confusion.
I think she has a great beginning novel with Steel Maiden. It gives the readers enough story to help launch their interest and keeps them wanting more from the story. I know I am eager to find out what happens in the next book and where Richardson's story will lead readers. Overall I will give this book a 3.5 out of 5 rating because There were strong and weak elements, Richardson could have taken the Steel Maiden thing so many different places and I hope she does so in the next novels.