Saturday, October 30, 2021

Archangel’s Light by Nalini Singh: review

5/5 stars on Goodreads

Archangel's Light by Nalini Singh

Archangel’s Light, the fourteenth book in Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh, finally gives us Illium and Aodhan, the two angel warriors of Raphael’s Seven. Part of me didn’t want this story, mostly because with the two ending up together, we only have one romance instead of two. They are the last two in the main cast and if the series is to continue, we’re down to secondary characters.

But of course this is the story that was meant to be. Blue and Adi have been friends since they were children, grew up together, and have survived a lot with the help of each other. Large part of the book is about their past, vignettes into formative events, some sweet, some emotional. Most importantly, we finally learn about the tragedy that changed Aodhan.

In the present, the two have become estranged because of a stupid fight. Aodhan has been in China for a year, helping the new archangel there, and when Illium is sent to assist, they finally have a chance to sort things out. There’s a lot of baggage between them, but enormous love too, and I was never truly worried they wouldn’t find a way through.

The focus is tightly in the two. There’s only a token of a plot where they are investigating a mystery of an empty village. But this isn’t a romance in the sense that the other books in the series have been. Romantic love doesn’t come in the equation until the very end and there are no sex scenes. It’s about the two entering a new phase in their long relationship. Incidentally, if youre looking for the definitive gay relationship in the series, this isnt it.

And yet, it’s probably the best one in the series. The emotions are real and raw, and the stakes are higher than with other couples, should things not work out. And the way things were left a little open in the end means there’s room for a book or two more about them. I would definitely read them. And I truly hope this wasn’t the end of the series.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Nightwatch on the Hinterlands by K. Eason: review

5/5 stars on Goodreads

Nightwatch on the Hinterlands by K. Eason

Nightwatch on the Hinterlands (Weep 1) by K. Eason is sci-fi set in the same universe as her earlier Rory Thorne series. Not having read that, I can’t say if characters from it make an appearance, but the plot doesn’t hint at a connection and the book can easily be read as a standalone.

That said, the first part of the book seemed to assume a greater knowledge of the world than this reader had. It took a while to get into, but it didn’t slow down the reading much. However, I still have some questions about the appearances of various species and the location of B-town.

The book is set on a remote, unremarkable planet called Tenhu. The only thing that makes it interesting is the Weep, a huge fissure in space to another dimension that runs through it. Deadly creatures called the Brood bleed from there, which requires a constant presence of Templars to make sure they don’t get out.

The world is a combination of (mostly) low-tech sci-fi and high fantasy. There’s space travel and nanotech, which gives strength to and heals the Templars, but hexes are used for powering their armour. Arithmancy and other spells are used in battle (the Weep was created by a massive spell). The town where the events take place doesn’t have any transportation and people walk everywhere, which gives it a fantasy feeling. Both sides, sci-fi and fantasy, go together seamlessly and make an interesting and unique whole.

Iari is a Templar of a large, tusked species native to the planet called tenju. She’s been relegated to babysitting Gaer, an ambassador from the vakari, an insectoid species with highly advanced arithmancy (they’re responsible for the Weep). The vakari used to be the enemy before the Brood became the common threat, and Gaer is the only representative of his species on Tenhu. He’s also a spy.

Both have their own point of view chapters, and I found them interesting and likeable characters. Iari is a highly dedicated Templar with a tight moral core, even if she has a habit of questioning her orders. Gaer was a unique character with his arithmancy and ability to read auras. The third point of view character, Corso, was a down on his luck PI and Iari’s former commander. He was a good addition, even if his POV chapters were mostly plot-related.

Nightwatch on the Hinterlands is a murder mystery that gains larger proportions. An artificer of a species called Wichu, who are responsible for the technology and magic that powers the templars, is killed. The killer seems clear: a riev. They’re battle-mechas, constructs that are part (dead) people of different species, part mechanic, and also Wichu creations.  As the first on the crime scene, Iari and Gaer begin to investigate.

From the start they run into anomalies. Riev aren’t supposed to kill. They’re not supposed to have singular identities or individual desires, but they do. One of them, Char, even ends up as part of Iari’s team and was one of my favourites. But the anomalies don’t end there. They run into Brood that act as if they’re being commanded. But who’s commanding them and why?

This was a slow but enjoyable mystery with bursts of violent action. All its elements stem from the unique features of the world, which makes the story feel organic and interesting. The motivations of the killer remained a mystery though, but the next book will be about that. I’m looking forward to reading it.

I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 01, 2021

Scales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis: review

4/5 stars on Goodreads

Scales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis

Stephanie Burgis’ new series, Regency Dragons, gets a delightful start in Scales and Sensibility. Its a regency romance with added fantasy elements, dragons and magic, and the two sides go together seamlessly to create a world that feels natural.

Elinor Tregarth lives the dreary life of a poor relative in her aunt and uncle’s manor after her parents died and left her and her two sisters penniless. Constantly bullied by her cousin Penelope, she finally snaps and leaves the house without a penny, but with Penelope’s pet dragon Sir Jessamyn.

Her position untenable, she makes an ardent wish to be exactly like a society matron, Mrs. De Lacey—and her dragon makes it happen! A game of masquerade ensues, where she tries to maintain her pretense among people who are becoming increasingly suspicious of her. She soon finds herself in deep trouble from many quarters.

To make matters worse—or better—Benedict Hawkins, a penniless suitor of Penelope, likes to spend time with Elinor instead. But how is she to let her feelings grow when she isn’t who he thinks—and he needs a fortune to save his estate and family.

Tension rises to almost unbearable before everything is solved and a happy ending can be declared.

This was a charming, well-written historical romance that was maybe a little lighter on the romance than I would’ve wished, but there was plenty of other things to keep my interest. Elinor was an excellent heroine, Benedict was a slightly distant but wonderfully suitable hero, and all the villains were perfectly villainous. But the book was stolen by Sir Jessamyn, the timid dragon who ended up changing Elinor’s life for good. A wonderful start to a series. I will definitely want to read more.

I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.