*I received an ecopy of this book from the author. This has not influenced my review.*
This book surprised me. I’m not a big fan of books about royal courts and intrigue, so I feared I wouldn’t like this book as much as the others, but it ended up being my favorite in the series so far. It wasn’t as intimate and quaint as the others, but it had more action while still maintaining the character and relationship development that’s made the previous books so enjoyable.
Scarlet got on my nerves a little with how he kept going against and complaining about everything, seemingly unable to understand that things are different when living among royalty and in an entirely different culture *MILD SPOILER* (like how he got upset when he found out the kir part of his title meant that he belonged to Liall when clearly Liall didn’t actually think of Scarlet as an object and only used that in Scarlet’s title to protect him so that no one would try to kill him), *END SPOILER* but I still liked him for his strength and spirit. I especially loved that scene in the library when one character tried to embarrass him for being illiterate, but he just owned up to it, completely unashamed, and instead ended up charming everyone in the room with his sincerity and impressing them with his ability to memorize the maps and roads of his land (since he couldn’t read names on a map).
Liall also got on my nerves some because of all the secrets he was keeping from Scarlet, but I still liked him a lot too. He’s made a lot of mistakes (in all the books), lost his temper, said things he didn’t mean or unfairly taken frustrations out on Scarlet, but he’s never gone so far as to actually be verbally or physically abusive, and he’s always realized his mistakes and apologized for them. I can accept that—a temper is a realistic flaw, and the way he handles it makes him still a good person.
I also really liked the struggles in their relationship in this book. It was kind of angsty, but in a good way. I could understand both sides, but more so Scarlet’s. I wouldn’t like it either if I was thrown into this new world and the one person I thought I knew started changing and seeming different and keeping everything secret from me. But ultimately their drama led to growth, and that’s a good thing.
Also—this is completely random, but it cracked me up so much that I have to mention it—this has to be the greatest response I’ve ever heard about the concern of someone walking in on two characters fooling around in a semi-public place:
“Liall, what if someone comes in?”
“Then they will go back out very quickly.”
I did get confused when it came to some of the stuff about the history of the people and the Shining Ones and the Deva, but I still wasn’t that used to high fantasy when I read this, so that could be why. And I actually did understand most of the political stuff, despite that not being my norm either.
Overall, this was another enjoyable book in the series with the same great character development, a little more relationship drama and growth, and significantly more intrigue and action!
Fans of Books 1 and 2 in Kirby Crow's Scarlet & the White Wolf Series. M/M high fantasy readers who like slow-paced, character-focused books with sweet relationships.
More Books in the Series:
2015 REVISED EDITION
Struggling to come to terms with his new life in Rshan na Ostre, young Scarlet is trying to find his place in a decadent, foreign society that bears an ancient hatred for all Hilurin. As Liall is pulled away from Scarlet and into the jaded intrigues of a royal court, the young pedlar wonders if they’ve made a terrible mistake in journeying to Rshan. Each passing day, Liall seems more like a stranger, more like one of the haughty Rshani nobility and less like the bandit leader Scarlet knew in Byzantur. As Liall contends with the aristocracy to uphold his fourteen-year-old brother’s claim to the throne, an infinitely more dangerous enemy draws nearer, determined to part the lovers forever.