Oh boy, this is going to be a doozy. Staying calm and not just melting down about this book is going to be difficult. I’ll try to articulate. Promise. I also tried to make this as spoiler free for both books as I could, but this review talks a *lot* about the relationship between two major characters. Like, a lot. So, heads up there. This is also based on an ARC, which the author gave me in the hopes that I would review it. Pfft. You just try to shut me up about this one. Just try. 😀
Look, Nora, this isn’t about you. We know you’ve had your problems and struggles. We know they aren’t over. But Nora, this isn’t about you. This is more than villages and temples; more than kingdoms and empires. The whole world is at stake.
“But if this isn’t about me, why do I have to deal with it?”
It’s just the way the wheel is turning…
Maybe asking “What is the Living Blade?” is the wrong question. Maybe the question should be “Who?”
Who has it been?
Who will it be?
And besides, Nora, sometimes the very world itself is your problem. To be able to fix yourself, you have to fix the world first, don’t you?
“Maybe we do need the return of the gods to finally tell us what we can or can’t do. But dammit, I’m sick and tired of people telling me what I can’t do. You can’t heal the world? Well, boohoo. No one is expecting that of you except you. You have to do what you can, when you can. And that must be enough.”
Calla cocked her head. “You know, that sounds a lot like the pilgrim’s code,” she said.
“Nah, code of Nora. Less philosophical bullshit.”
So, if I rewind my brain about a month, I’ll remember that the end of Touch of Iron broke my feels. Well, On the Wheel re-broke those feels, because now we’re in the aftermath of those events, into some new bonkers-ass events, and more of this story is from Diaz’s point of view than in the previous book. Knowing where he stands on some things where we didn’t really know before…. hrrrng.
There are a few good reasons that I don’t read romance novels much anymore, despite once reading many, many romances. I won’t go into all of those reasons, but a fairly big one is that I very easily get very emotionally invested in fictional characters’ relationships, and in books where those relationships don’t always go smoothly, well… it gets legitimately anxiety-inducing for me sometimes. I wish I didn’t feel so hard for things like this, but there it is. So, of course a romantic subplot (which I’m going to admit is a fairly major part of the overall plot of this one) in a book that is definitely more fantasy than romance, and a fairly fucking grim fantasy at that… faaaack. I was in tears by chapter 4 goddamn it, but I could not look away, because it was too goddamn good! Let us just say that it got a teeeeensy bit worse from there.
Nora… oh Nora. Still one of my favorite characters in any book I’ve ever read, because she is so easy for me to relate to. She’s not a proper lady. She swears and she’s snarky. She will fight some bitches, if necessary. She is totally realistically DTF sometimes- aren’t we all though? 😀 – She’s no waif, and doesn’t need any help, thank you very much (except when she does). She’s cold as ice sometimes, but not completely without any feeling, though she does try and make it appear so. She’s just trying to survive in this crazy world, and this world has done nothing but shit all over her. I want all the good things for Nora, because I feel like Nora and I would be best friends. Alas… the world is going to shit on Nora because that’s what this world does.
As I said, we see things from Diaz’s POV more and I loved it. It broke my feels sometimes, yes, but it gave the story more depth. I want all the good things for Diaz too, because I can’t be mad at him. I just can’t. The world certainly shits all over him too, and I feel for him.
Just like Touch of Iron, this one grabbed me right from the first word and would not let go until I was finished. I read this book in more or less a day. I read all through work. I read through dinner. I read until my eyes hurt, because I could not end my day without knowing how this ended. This book is fucking frustrating as all hells in some ways, but, and I am not going to articulate this in a way that makes sense, it was SO FUCKING GLORIOUS. So few books truly make me react so strongly. I can’t even fucking remember any other characters that I felt so strongly about as I do about Nora and Diaz. I am angry at this book. I am in love with this book. I want to fucking stab this book for hurting my feels so badly. It’s one of those.
Look, I better get some sleep to fucking recover from today. So let me sum this up. Touch of Iron resonated with me and easily became a favorite. I’m pretty sure I can safely say at this point that On the Wheel topped it. Topped it like a fucking boss. 5/5 stars for sure!