Wednesday, June 3, 2020

#Review - The Dragon Lady by Angelique S. Anderson #Steampunk

Series: The Dracosinum Tales #1
Format: Kindle Edition, 323 pages
Release Date: May 1, 2017
Publisher: Amazon
Source: Amazon
Genre: Steampunk / Fiction

A clockwork dragon sidekick with an attitude. Ancient powerful magic that could destroy humanity. Handsome love-interests, and evil villains. For Wylie Petford, being half-dragon could have its perks.

In 19th Century London, stablehand Wylie has just suffered an extreme tragedy. It is this tragedy that leads her to a magical device and her greater purpose.

The alluring Dracosinum holds a key to her hidden heritage and opens the door for a fantastic future while leaving her love Lord Adrian in the past.

The taking over of her hometown by the Villainous Lord Ukridge rips her from her closest friend and further destroys what little good is left in her life.

Now, with the odds against her, she has one chance to become who she is meant to be, escape her shackles and defeat the evil lord Ukridge.

"A reminder that we are living on borrowed time, and that we only have mere moments to stop evil when it occurs.”
The Dragon Lady, by Angelique S. Anderson, is book one of The Dracosinum Tales. In 19th century London, Wylie Petford loves her job working in Lord Adrian's stables and her downtrodden home of Lugwallow. After her father dies due to a long illness, she finds a mysterious pocket watch  with a dragon emblem hidden in her father's bed. After being sent to see Dr. Hubvert Mullings, Wylie learns about her father's secret, and her destiny as one of the dragons that is supposed to keep the balance between good and evil. 

Her life is further turned upside down when her best friend shares that her father, Lord Jameston, plans to sell her home and everyone else who lives in Lugwallow to make way for new shops and to evacuate every resident within a matter of days. Wylie knows she has to stop him, and will do whatever it takes to save their homes. While Wylie is dealing with a full plate, let's not forget about her love for Lord Adrian who is, unfortunately, engaged to her best friend, Lady Judith. 

Wylie is a character with a kind heart, a spunky attitude,  opinionated and strong-willed. Her dedication to the people of Lugwallow is her driving force as she refuses to let their homes be destroyed. Lord Jameston is clearly the antagonist, wicked and greedy, becoming more evil in each scene. Wylie's romance Lord Adrian is a complicated flirtation, a mix of clashing social statuses and an arranged engagement to Wylie's best friend. Quincy is a delightful character, taking the role of a mythological mentor that guides the hero with a certain roundabout way of talking and he has an air of wisdom about him. He's also humorous and mystical, giving Wylie a friend she needs for her new destiny. 

The Dragon Lady was a surprisingly good story overall, and I would not hesitage to read any sequel.

#Review - Dragon Unleashed by Grace Draven #Fantasy / #Romance

Series: The Fallen Empire # 2
Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Publisher: Ace
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Romance

A dragon shapeshifter and a healer with power over the earth fight a corrupt empire in this thrilling and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Magic is outlawed in the Krael Empire and punishable by death. Born with the gift of earth magic, the free trader Halani keeps her dangerous secret closely guarded. When her uncle buys a mysterious artifact, a piece of bone belonging to a long-dead draga, Halani knows it’s far more than what it seems.

Dragas haven’t been seen for more than a century, and most believe them extinct. They’re wrong. Dragas still walk among the denizens of the Empire, disguised as humans. Malachus is a draga living on borrowed time. The magic that has protected him will soon turn on him—unless he finds a key part of his heritage. He has tracked it to a group of free traders, among them a grave-robbing earth witch who fascinates him as much as she frustrates him with her many secrets.

Unbeknownst to both, the Empire’s twisted empress searches for a draga of her own, to capture and kill as a trophy. As Malachus the hunter becomes the hunted, Halani must risk herself and all she loves to save him from the Empire’s machinations and his own lethal birthright.

Dragon Unleashed, by author Grace Draven, is the second installment in the authors Fallen Empire series. As this is the second installment in the Fallen Empire series, you would be best served if you have some semblance of knowledge as to the world that this story takes place in. I say that because the main characters from Phoenix Unbound (Gilene and Valden) show up in this story briefly. This story focuses on Halani, who is the free trader from Phoenix Unbound and Malachus, who we have not seen before. It is not a continuation of Gilene's story. 

Let's begin with Malachus. Mal has spent hundreds of years tacking down thieves that looted his mother-bond (valuable piece of his mothers skeleton) from the monastery from which he was raised. Mal's has lived a long and lonely life hunting down the artifact that was stolen from the Sovatin monks who raised him. Mal's travels take him to the Krael Empire where he meets Halani. Mal is shown a vision of Halani and the stolen mother-bond which he has been tracking. Mal is magic disguised as a human. Mal must retrieve the mother-bond in order for him to take on his true form as a draga (dragon). When Mal meets up with Halani's caravan, he is attacked by thieves, and saved by Halani. Long story short, the two work out feelings but it takes up nearly the entire story before Mal allows Halani to see who he really is. Mal also finds himself being Asil's friend and protector which I have to say is adorable.
Halani has travelled with a trading caravan for most of her life along with her child minded mother Asil. She's a gifted healer with earth magic. Magic welding of any kind is outlawed in the Empire so Halani has hid the source of her potent healing powers for her entire life and is used to living with many secrets and lies. I dare say that Halani's mother is one of the bright spots of this story. Her past is incredibly painful, yet she never once shirked her responsibilities as a mother. Halani and Gilene became friends in the previous novel when Gilene was hiding out afraid of being captured along with Valden aka Azarion Ataman.

The other characters you should focus on are Gharek of Cabast aka cat's paws and Empress Dalvila who readers met in Phoenix Unbound. These two characters could be considered antagonist for our reluctant heroines as everything they do is in direct confrontation. The Empress lost her consort and an arm in the last battle she faced against Valden. She truly believes that if she drinks the blood of a draga she will be restored to her former glory. Gharek has been tasked to find the mother-bond rumored to be in her land and bring it to her in order to trap the dragon and take its life to fuel her own. 

The basic reason for my rating are pretty simplistic. The first 3/4 of the book is a grind of slow action and tension as to what is going to happen next. Secrets between Mal and Hali could have been revealed sooner, but thankfully it didn't destroy their relationship. Halani warns her uncle against buying a strange yet enigmatic artifact could cause trouble for the caravan. But, her uncle is as hard headed and unmovable as they come which leads to even more trouble. The pacing was quite literally different from Phoenix Unbound. The action in Phoenix was way more intense and suspenseful.

If there was one thing Malachus had learned about humans during his long life span, it was that they were first and foremost thieves. They stole anything and everything, nailed down or not, from jewels and livestock to women and children. And if battlefields and graves were any true indicators, the dead were no more safe from their larceny than the living.
The Sovatin monks who’d fostered him as a child never truly prepared him for the scope of humanity’s predation upon itself. Though human as well, the monks lived isolated from the depredations of the so-called civilized. Malachus never forgot the grief on their faces-the horror-at discovering their sacred necropolis destroyed beyond repair by treasure seekers. It was his first real taste of humanity as a whole, and he found it revolting. It was also the impetus for him to become a sought-after bounty hunter with a reputation feared throughout Winosia’s prefectures.
His martial training combined with his true nature gave him an edge, one that made grave robbers and slavers question whether pursuing their professions was worth the risk of becoming the quarry in his hunt.
This hunt was different, more personal, and his prey far wilier than he’d anticipated, slipping through his fingers countless times over numerous leagues and a treacherous sea. Either they possessed extraordinary luck or they knew what he was and how to outmaneuver him. Now, far away in an unfamiliar country, Malachus’s luck had run dry.
The pair possessed a treasure he would move mountains to regain, and they had fled across the Raglun Sea to these lands. The ship Malachus had sailed on to follow them had almost caught up to theirs, the mother-bond calling to his soul with a war drum’s beat. But fickle gods had churned the waters into a raging cauldron and flung his ship far off course. An experienced captain and crew had saved the ship and those on board, sailing the beaten vessel into harbor with broken masts and ripped sails. Malachus’s quarry had long since vanished into the interior, moving westward.
He’d managed to track them from the coast to this forest, guided by the internal beacon connecting him to the artifact he hunted. His mother-bond, which was all that remained of his mother, his birthright, and his ability to reclaim his true heritage.
Malachus stood at the tree line and gazed upon the fields before him that stretched to the base of the distant black-striped mountains. A wide road snaked toward a miasma of dust in the distance, a steady stream of wagon and foot traffic traveling its length. According to those he’d spoken with when he first came ashore, a great market, promising all manner of goods available for sale, had sprung up where once a Kraelian garrison had stood. He suspected his prey was there. He stabbed the damp earth in front of him with the point of his sword, wishing it was the belly of one, or both, of the thieves. He needed that mother-bond. Nothing more than a bit of bone at first glance, its value lay far beyond anything the pair might get from a buyer. After four hundred years of imprisonment in a human body, kept quiet by magic, his true form had grown restless, a dangerous prisoner, and a fatal one if he didn’t set it loose in time. Even now, the force of his inevitable transformation surged through his bones and muscles, making the veins in his arms and neck bulge at times, and his head throb. It was certain that he’d have to slough off his human guise and embrace the draga one. Ignoring that imperative guaranteed death. He needed the mother-bond to safely initiate that change.
At his patient mare’s inquiring whicker, he turned. She whuffled a second time when he stroked her neck.
“They’re close, Batraza,” he told the horse. “Likely trying to pawn what they pilfered.”
Finding the thieves and the mother-bond would be easier in a contained market than trying to track them across leagues of unknown, and likely hostile, terrain. If he listened hard enough, he could hear hints of faraway voices. They were about a full day’s ride from the dust cloud, and that was if he and Batraza didn’t have to shelter from the summer storms that periodically doused the area.
For now the sky curved blue above him, and he eyed the clouds scudding by, noting those that gathered into thunderheads to linger in the distance. Malachus sighed, cleaning his blade before resheathing it. The ragged tips of Batraza’s tail slapped against his arm as she swatted away the pesky gnats that swarmed in clouds around their heads and tried to fly up their noses. Unlike other horses, she didn’t lay her ears back in warning or try to bolt when Malachus drew near her. That, as much as her preternaturally long life span, made her as strange as her rider.
Malachus offered her the treat of a withered apple he had fished from the depths of one of the bags attached to the saddle, and swung nimbly onto her back. The two turned away from the road toward an open space where the tree line curved in a horseshoe shape around gently swaying grassland.
Time and solitude allowed Malachus to plan his next move as he tracked the mother-bond to the shores of the far-flung Krael Empire. Sometimes he felt more hound than human or draga, his nose either to the ground or to the wind as he searched for his legacy. The blue sky overhead rapidly gave way to blackening thunderheads fissured with lightning. A few bolts broke free to strike the ground, and Batraza pranced beneath him, nervous at the storm’s approach. Malachus guided her deeper into the trees before dismounting. She leaned against him as he cast a spell the monks had taught him to calm her so she wouldn’t bolt when he left her to return to the open curve of grassland on foot.
Rain blew in with a howl and then a roar, slanting sideways as the storm gusts drove it across the landscape like an overseer wielding a whip. Malachus tilted his face to the sky and let the deluge pummel him, washing away his frustration along with the layer of travel dirt he’d acquired since his last bath.
A shimmer of light illuminated the shield of his closed eyelids, followed by a boom of thunder. Within the sheltering trees, Batraza whinnied her fear. Malachus murmured, “It’s all right, girl. Just a little light and noise, nothing more. You’re the safest you can be where you are.”
As quickly as the storm blew in, it passed. Thunder rumbled in the distance, chasing walls of rain that galloped across the forest before bashing into the mountain range. Black clouds splintered by lightning trailed behind, and Malachus crossed his fingers in the hope that his height and singularity on the flat ground might lure one of those crackling tongues of light toward him. Lightning always loved the draga, even those disguised as humans.
A bright bolt forked out of one of the clouds to strike him. He convulsed with the shock wave of power that hammered through his muscles and boiled the blood in his veins. For a moment, his heart seized before restarting with a double-time beat. Every hair on his body stood up, and the smell of charred cloth filled his nostrils. Still, he kept his feet as the lightning anchored him to the earth and exploded images across his mind’s eye.
A market teeming with people against the backdrop of a ruined fortress, his mother-bond haloed in shimmering light and resting on a square of purple cloth. A woman’s pretty face and somber gray eyes. An older man with similar features and the same gray eyes. And most important, the two thieves he’d tracked this far. All those depictions flashed before him in the time it took for the lightning to pin him to the ground, burn bright, then burn out.
Released from the lightning’s lethal hold, Malachus staggered before falling to one knee. He breathed deep, fire in his lungs and agony in his bones. Smoke wreathed him and the burnt grass around him. A wispy tendril meandered from a thumbnail-size burn hole on the top of his right boot. The wetness of rain-soaked ground seeped through his sole. The lightning that exited his body had left a matching burn hole there.
Any other man would be a smoking husk by now, but Malachus was not a normal man any more than Batraza was a normal horse. His magic made the mare unique just as Malachus’s mother’s heritage made him peculiar. Batraza was a horse that wore the guise of magic. Malachus was magic who wore the guise of a human.
He’d need to repair his boot, but the damage had been worth it. The lightning had revealed a great deal. The valuable piece of his mother’s skeleton still moved westward, pausing briefly as if teasing him with its nearness.
While most of the images the lightning had shown him were obvious location markers and hints, the one of the woman with the solemn features puzzled him. She might well be a buyer interested in possessing the mother-bond-and woe betide her if she was-or she might be traveling with the thieves he tracked, unknowing that they carried a lodestone that put a relentless hunter on their trail. The man she resembled was a mystery as well, though Malachus had no doubt that he, too, was somehow tied to the mother-bond. The lightning wouldn’t have shown them otherwise.
He stood, soaked to the skin, and shook off the last remnants of the sky’s blistering kiss before returning to Batraza. She snorted and rolled her eyes when Malachus drew closer, stamping a hoof as if to admonish him for leaving her alone among the trees.
“Peace, Bat,” he said in his most soothing tone and gathered the reins before swinging into the wet saddle. The storm’s power had fizzled. To the west, the clearing sky took on a golden hue, overpainting the blue as the sun regained dominion over the clouds.
Malachus guided the mare out of the forest. If they traveled without stopping and avoided the road’s heavier traffic, they’d reach the market by the following nightfall. A new moon meant a blacker-than-usual night. He could enter the market without much notice, just one of many travelers journeying toward the temporary city. Though he wasn’t human, he wore the form of one no different from all of those who trekked toward the ruins.
They reached the market after the vendors closed shop and the encampment surrounding it settled down for the night. That suited him fine. He found it far easier to navigate new surroundings without throngs of people milling about to trade, socialize, or steal.
The sickle moon hung midway in the night sky as he circled the camp perimeter, ringed by hundreds of tents and wagons as well as livestock pens guarded by a few people and a fair number of dogs. The air was redolent with the scent of humans and animals, mud and wet felt-unpleasant except for the drifting scents of cooking spices and herbal teas simmering over fires. Those teased his nostrils, and his empty stomach rumbled in response. Malachus nodded briefly to the watch who silently observed him as he rode past pens and clusters of tents, inciting the dogs into frantic barking or frightened yelps if his gaze lingered too long on them. The mother-bond’s draw hummed along his senses like silver thread stitched into fabric. He guided Batraza along the market’s edge and farther out still, where the grass grew undisturbed and untrampled and the light of torches no longer chased away the thick darkness. He brought the mare to a halt and breathed deep, allowing his senses to open wide, feel even more the hard draw of draga magic as he sharpened his focus on the thing that had driven him to cross deep seas and foreign lands to find it.
He’d camp for the night and renew his search in the morning. Reconnoitering in darkness had its benefits, but this was a large tent city populated with enough watchmen that someone would interpret his investigating as nefarious and try either to shoot him or to knife him. Confrontations never went unnoticed, and he didn’t want to give any warning to his prey of his presence here. For all they knew, his ship had gone down in an angry sea and he along with it. He didn’t want to disabuse them of the notion in case they’d made such a fortuitous assumption.
The spot where he chose to camp was no more than a patch of wet ground away from the meandering patterns of flattened grass that marked a well-traveled trek made by campers who wished to relieve themselves away from their living spaces.
The night sky stayed clear, and he counted the stars salting its expanse from his supine view on Batraza’s saddle blanket. The mare grazed nearby, her lead rope staked within easy reach. Malachus listened to the sounds around him-the call of a night bird, the distant ululation of wolves, the rustle of some rodent hiding from predators looking to catch their dinner. Above those, the murmur and flow of voices, their words indistinct. Friendly conversations and hot arguments, the intense sensuality of moans during lovemaking, a woman’s sweet lullaby to a fretful baby.
These were the things that reminded him there was more to humanity than its larceny, its petty cruelties. His understanding, and the empathy that came with it, was a fragile thing, even after decades of living among humans outside the monastery. He looked like them, but they possessed dark depths he’d never fully comprehend, nor did he want to. The sounds he listened to now, of mundane lives lived in peaceful hours, softened his attitude a small bit. It wouldn’t last. It never did.
His thoughts settled once more on the gray-eyed woman the lightning had shown him earlier. Attractive, but he had known sublime. Dignified, but he had met majestic. There was nothing about her appearance that strayed from the conventional into the remarkable, yet her image remained emblazoned in his mind. He saw it overlaid across a spectacle of starlight and behind his lids when he closed them. It was more than a suspected connection to his mother-bond. He wanted to know her name, hear her voice, learn what lay behind those eyes the color of dove’s wings. His fascination with her made no sense, but Malachus didn’t question it. His spirit understood his instinct better than his mind did, and he couldn’t shunt its message aside. The lightning had shown her to him for a reason.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

#Review - Hood by Jenny Elder Moke #YA #Historical #Retelling

Series: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Release Date:  June 9, 2020
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Historical / Medieval / Legends, Myths, Fables

You have the blood of kings and rebels within you, love. Let it rise to meet the call.

Isabelle of Kirklees has only ever known a quiet life inside the sheltered walls of the convent, where she lives with her mother, Marien. But after she is arrested by royal soldiers for defending innocent villagers, Isabelle becomes the target of the Wolf, King John’s ruthless right hand. Desperate to keep her daughter safe, Marien helps Isabelle escape and sends her on a mission to find the one person who can help: Isabelle’s father, Robin Hood. 

As Isabelle races to stay out of the Wolf’s clutches and find the father she’s never known, she is thrust into a world of thieves and mercenaries, handsome young outlaws, new enemies with old grudges, and a king who wants her entire family dead. As she joins forces with Robin and his Merry Men in a final battle against the Wolf, will Isabelle find the strength to defy the crown and save the lives of everyone she holds dear?

In Hood, author Jenny Elder Moke reimagines the world of Robin Hood in lush, historical detail and imbues her story with more breathless action than has ever come out of Sherwood Forest before. This novel is a must-read for historical-fiction fans, adventure lovers, and reluctant readers alike!

In Hood, author Jenny Elder Moke reimagines the world of Robin Hood set during the years of King John Lackland. 16-year old Isabelle has only known the walls of the Priory of Kirklees where her mother Marien who is the Prioress. As a budding sister, she's been treated like a dog or worse by certain sisters. After shooting a knight with her bow and arrow, she lands in serious trouble and finds herself no longer safe any where near Kirkleestown or her mother. Marien frees & sends Isabelle on a journey to find the man she's never known but has heard about; Robin Hood. 

As Isabelle travels through treacherous terrority, she meets new and old members of Robin's Merry Men. She also learns that the Wolf, Sir Roger of Duncaster, wants to get his hands on her very badly. Not as badly as Robin, but if he captures Isabelle, he could have leverage over Robin. He also has access to Marien should he deem Isabelle uncooperative. Isabelle is told that she can not tell anyone who Robin is to her or they could be used against her. This needs to be addressed. Yes, Isabelle keeps this secret for a very long time but I don't see anything wrong with keeping your word.

After some (mis)adventures, she finds that Robin isn't with the group prompting a group of young misfits to join Isabelle in her quest to find him. Isabelle starts off the story not knowing who her father is, and when she finally meets Robin, it's so apparent that he didn't leave her behind nor is he selfless. Robin was quirky and goofy while yet retaining an air of mystery and seriousness. Marian was loving while being stern, and strong when most might consider her weak. 

One could say that Hood is not really a "Robin Hood" story as much as a spin on his daughter learning to become a fighter for justice. Isabelle doesn't automatically become a kick butt heroine who knows everything there is to know. She has a learning curve, in so many things including trusting her new friends not to reveal her secret to anyone. She has to deal with becoming a Merry Men through a target shooting contest. Then later she has to earn the trust of her new friends Adam, Allan, Patrick and Helena who have come to idolize Robin Hood and what he stands for.

I've read so many retellings of Robin Hood that I've had a hard time not comparing other books with each other. I think this is a find standalone but I would not mind if the author wrote another book featuring Isabelle and the Merry Men. This is the first book I believe I've read where King John was in charge and things really are dark. The book even hints at rebel barons trying hard to force John into signing the Magna Carta for which the US Constitution is based on. 

This book is not only a coming of age story, but one with a minor romantic entanglement between Isabelle and Adam. It's not overwhelming nor does it take up large parts of the story which I loved. Isabelle has skills with a bow, and could shoot extraordinarily well. Considering who her parents are, this shouldn't shock anyone.

Isabelle took great pride in herself that she did not cry once during the whole wretched, messy ordeal. Not when the soldiers barked their orders at her to stand down; not when they grabbed her up like a common criminal and threw shackles on her wrists; not when they shoved her in this moldy makeshift prison cell that once served as a potato cellar; not even when the strips of light leaching in from outside grew longer, and thinner, and then disappeared altogether. She held her head high, gritted her teeth, and glared malevolence at the warped wooden boards of the door and the rough voices of the men beyond.

Monday, June 1, 2020

#Review - The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso #Fantasy

Series: Rooks and Ruin #1
Format: Paperback, 528 pages
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: Orbit
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Epic

One woman will either save an entire continent or completely destroy it in a captivating epic fantasy bursting with intrigue and ambition, questioned loyalties, and broken magic.

"Guard the tower, ward the stone. Find your answers writ in bone. Keep your trust through wits or war--nothing must unseal the door."

Deep within Gloamingard Castle lies a black tower. Sealed by magic, it guards a dangerous secret that has been contained for thousands of years.

As Warden, Ryxander knows the warning passed down through generations: nothing must unreal the Door. But one impetuous decision will leave her with blood on her hands--and unleash a threat that could doom the world to fall to darkness.

The Obsidian Tower, by author Melissa Caruso, begins a new epic fantasy trilogy called Rooks and Ruins in which the broken magic of one woman will either save an entire continent-or completely destroy it. This story takes place 150 years after the ending of Swords and Fire. The author has created an entirely new cast of characters so you can either choose to read this book first and then go back to the previous series or read the previous series first. Either way it's the same world so it's your choice.

As the granddaughter of an immortal Witch Lord (Lady of Owls) of Vaskandar and a line of Royal Vivomancers, Exalted Ryxander (Ryx) was destined for power and prestige. But a childhood illness left her with broken magic that drains the life from anything she touches, and Vaskandar has no place for a mage with unusable powers. Ryx has resigned herself to an isolated life as the Warden of Gloamingard, her grandmother’s castle. But, Ryx has other plans as well.  As the story opens, she readies to host a peace conference between the Serene Empire, Akevar, and Vaskandar before a war breaks out.

Ryx's country of Morgain lays directly between Akevar and the Serene Empire so they have everything to lose if the peace treaty talks go sideways. To make things more interesting, at Gloamingard’s heart lies a black tower. Sealed by magic, it guards a dangerous secret that has been contained by Ryx's family for thousands of years. When an unwanted visitor gets too curious about the Black Door and what's behind it, Ryx accidentally kills the dignitary in self-defense, activating a mysterious magical artifact sealed in an ancient tower in the heart of her family’s castle. What happens next could unleash a threat that could doom everything she loves to fall to darkness with no hopes of a peaceful solution to a possible war.  

Ryx falls in with a group of unlikely magical experts (Rookery) investigating the disturbance in Vaskandar—and Ryx realizes that her family is in danger and her domain is at stake. She and her new colleagues (Asheva, Bastian, Foxglove, Kessa) must take control of the artifact that everyone wants to claim—before it destroys the world. But, with players from all sides chirping in with their approval or suggestions as to what happens next to the artifact, time may be running out until someone reveals Ryx's murder of someone close to the Shrike Lord of Akevar,  time may be running out quickly for Ryx and her new friends. 

When Ryx finds a way of subduing her ability to drain life, it's genuinely touching to see her coming to terms with being able to have physical contact. It's also a direct conflict between her family who believes being under anyone's control is unimaginable. There's a fair amount of intrigue between Ryx and her grandmother who is really a center piece to this story and what happens. Much of the story revolves around courtly intrigue and politics as the different kingdoms and the empire vie for power.

As delegations from other kingdoms come to engage in peace talks, Ryx finds a spy in their midst. Courtly intrigue ensues as Ryx also realizes that some of their “allies” are a little too interested in the tower that her family guards. There’s a good amount of diversity in this book as well, with a nonbinary character, bisexual character, and lesbian characters. There is minor romance possibilities in this book as well between Ryx and others, including Severin who really steps up when things get dangerous for Ryx.

Publication Schedule: 
1. The Obsidian Tower (TP: 06/20)
2. The Quicksilver Court (TP: 08/21)
3. The Bone Chamber (TP: 08/22)