Rating: 4 stars
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Since learning that he is a merman shifter (an Ea), Taren has been living with his mate Ian, happily in love. He enjoys their life together, but continues to be haunted by visions of his past life. Taren is the reincarnation of Treande, an former Ea leader and priest who lived long ago with his lover Owyn, who has been reincarnated as Ian. Treande lost Owyn tragically and never recovered emotionally from the loss of his mate. As Taren has visions of the past pair, he fears for Ian’s safety and can’t even imagine what he would do if he lost him. The visions and dreams are haunting, especially as he experiences them so realistically.
In addition, the conflicts between the mainland Ea and those of the island colony continue to escalate. The island Ea escaped the mainland when the humans wanted to harm them, but now have cut themselves off completely and threaten the lives of the mainland Ea. War is brewing between the two Ea groups and as a spy and ship’s captain for the mainland, Ian, along with Taren, is right in the middle of it. There are legends about a powerful rune stone that will help the mainland Ea protect themselves against the islanders. It resides with Odhrán, a feared pirate, and Ian and Taren are determined to recover it to aid their people.
When Ian’s ship is attacked by humans working for the island Ea, Taren is injured in the water and wakes up with a boy named Brynn who claims to be able to take him to Odhrán. Taren knows going alone is dangerous, but he also realizes this may be his only chance to recover the rune stone. The trip is definitely risky though. Taren has no idea if he can even trust Brynn and Odhrán is rumored to be not only terrifying, but also keeping Ea as slaves. But Taren is determined to recover the stone and help his people, even at risk to his own life. And even if he manages to safely get the stone, Taren, Ian, and the rest of the mainland Ea must still fight to save themselves from the island Ea and the humans that are helping them.
Into the Wind is the second book in Shira Anthony’s Mermen of Ea series. I really love this world that she has created. It combines both some really well done shifter lore along with the battles at sea and pirate element, which really makes for a fascinating setting. The mermen are well developed and beautifully described. I loved the shifter element, the details of their history, and the descriptions of their undersea adventures. Anthony creates a really interesting society for the Ea as well, and the conflicts between the two factions make for some great tension. While the first book focused more on Taren learning he is Ea and finding his place in their world, this story really delves further into the battle going on between the two sides. While I did wish for some more progress on that front, I think this book does really set things up well for the series going forward.
My favorite part of the story is following Taren along with Brynn as he goes to face Odhrán. It adds some really nice elements of adventure and suspense, as well as giving us another fascinating world in Odhrán’s lair and more backstory on Treande (not to mention a shocking twist along the way that I never saw coming). So this part was a lot of fun and really kept me captivated.
I think where I struggled somewhat with the story were the multiple visions and dreams that Taren has about his past, both from his own current life and his previous one as Treande. Especially early in the book when we are just getting our footing in the story, I found them somewhat distracting and at times confusing. Just as we would get into a rhythm with present day, we seemed to jump out into a vision from another time. We get visions of Taren as Treande, visions of others from his past, and even visions/memories of himself as a baby with his parents. As the story progresses, these jumps back and forth lessened and things went a little smoother. And I really do find the reincarnation aspect an interesting and a clever way to show the connection between Ian and Taren. But it was a little too much for me at times. I was also not fond of the segment where Taren is able to see into Odhrán’s past. While it is interesting and gives us some backstory on his character, it felt somewhat out of place to me. It is a long segment where we jump out of the story, especially because what happened to Odhrán in the past is just horrible. It just felt like too much and didn’t fit particularly well with the flow of the rest of the book for me.
My other issue is that the story really doesn’t focus as much on Ian and Taren as I had wanted. Taren is injured early in the book and then separated from Ian for most of the story. Again, I found his adventures with Brynn and Odhrán really interesting, but it doesn’t leave much time for our heroes together. And it ends up taking up so much of the story that we get some really major events happening at the end of the book with significant characters that we really don’t have much time to process before the book is over. I assume they will be addressed in future stories, but it seemed like we get a lot of visions and journeys and then suddenly key events happen without much time to really develop.
Overall though I am really enjoying this series and think this book sets us up really nicely for future installments. The battle between the island and mainland Ea continues to brew. We also see Taren finally start to accept his role as leader and realize he may have to take some risks in order to help fulfill the role he is meant to for his people. And there are some unexpected developments at the end of the book that will leave us with new challenges as well. So an enjoyable story and a series I am really liking a lot.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.