I’ve been excited about this book since the last one. It’s all come down to this. DUN DUN DUN!
This review is based on a review copy from the author.
She’s under a sword’s control. He’s crushed by the past. Together, they’ll fight for a new kind of freedom…
Driven to the brink of madness, Noraya “Nora” Smith is chained to the Living Blade, body and soul. Unable to restrain its fury, Nora watches the enchanted sword use her to wreak havoc across the land. Before the blade devours her whole, Nora must find and rescue her twin brother from the dark realm within…
The once-proud warrior Master Telen Diaz reels from the loss of his sword arm and his past of painful abuse. After taking refuge on a magical island, the half-wight uncovers the truth of his heritage. But will the help of the bloodwitches and mermaids allow him to understand his feelings for Nora?
Alone, Nora and Diaz are powerless against the dark Prophetess. Together, they may just have a chance to restore balance to the world…
“A woman has a place,” he finished as the commotion died down a little, “and it is not in a position of authority.”
A stunned silence followed his speech. A collective intake of breath.
“Gods, you’re such a fucking asshole,” Nora spat.
I’ve been anticipating this book since the end of the last one, and so when I was given an opportunity to beta read it, I jumped on that chance.
Of course, the finished product is going to be quite a bit different, and so I gladly reread it when it was time for ARCs to be distributed. I don’t read many books twice, but I was glad to do so with this one.
This is the continuing story of Noraya ‘Nora’ Smith, a young woman from a small charcoal producing village who, when the exiled prince Bashan wandered through their land, ended up going on quite an adventure with him and his group, with her twin brother Owen in tow.
Bashan was on a quest to find the legendary Living Blade, which is the only way he thought to wrench back control of the kingdom from his half-sister. Well… he found it, and after some crazy Living Blade shenanigans with Bashan, it has now taken over Nora.
This volume of the series mainly follows Nora and the half-wight pilgrim Telen Diaz. They each have a separate path for most of this story. Nora is fighting the power of the Living Blade, which is driving her mad, making her lash out and powerful enough to destroy entire cities. She wanders the world trying to figure out how to control the power or get rid of it, hearing voices in her head, and having hallucinations of many horrors. She wants to find her brother Owen, who she believes is somewhere in the power of the Blade, if she could just find him in there. If she has Owen, she’ll be okay.
Diaz has lost his sword arm and is pretty much at rock bottom. He slowly recovers while staying as high as possible to stave off having to actually figure out what to do with himself. To find out what he is good for, or good at, now that he can’t be a warrior anymore. He is facing a lot of his past, which is coming back to haunt him, and he’s not having a good time of it. Suranna haunts him. Nora haunts him. So, seemingly drawn to it, he escapes to the island of the bloodwitches and not only befriends someone unexpected there, and together they find out some interesting info about the temples of this world.
Suranna, the Seer, and the priestess of the Temple of Fire plans to raise her god, Shinar… which will probably not be a great development for the world. Bad shenanigans. Very bad shenanigans. Bashan is also still around and being… well, mostly Bashan. Though, I have to admit that he did some unexpectedly selfless things over the course of this story. But he’s still Bashan.
I definitely thought this was a great ending to the story, and just like the first two books, I had trouble putting it down. It’s not overly long, but even still, the writing style flows really easily, and so it is very easy to pick up and read until you lose track of time, and before you know it you’re finished. And you’ve skipped dinner. And your dogs really need to go out…
Nora. Oh Nora. She is one of my favorite characters in recent fantasy because Nora is relatable to me. She is fantastically foul-mouthed, often crass, and also snarky. She doesn’t always ask for help when she should, but she can also pretty much hold her own most of the time. I want all of the good things for Nora… but I also want all the good things for Diaz, and that is, I think why I love this series so much. I absolutely love both the two main characters and I want for them both to succeed in their every endeavor.
I’ve said before that the underlying romance of this series is what kept me the most interested in it, and that’s still true. This one kept me reading to the very end hoping that everything would work out. Things have not gone smoothly for Nora or for Diaz up to this point. Would they end up together, or would they go their separate ways? It really could go either way, and depending on the circumstances, either of those endings could be satisfying. The ‘will they or won’t they’ kept me reading, and… well… am I satisfied with the result? This is a 5/5 star book either way. I’ll let you find out for yourself what that means in the grand scheme of things. ^_^
This review is based on an advanced review copy of this book.