Sorcerers live alone and Arius does not leave his tower. He spends his days communing with his brethren and sending his ice wolves to attack the kingdom of Evernesse. It is his duty, as the pact with his god was broken so long again, and only a sacrifice of royal blood can end the war. And then Loren shows up, claiming to be of royal blood, and offering his life to end the bloodshed.
Though wary, Arius agrees to Loren’s offer. Loren is relieved that the Ice Lord is treating him well. And though Loren is ready to die to save his kingdom, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. But the men get to know each other and see beyond the surface of each other. And when the time comes, Arius cannot kill Loren and sets the man free. But Arius’s god demands a sacrifice, and Loren doesn’t get far before he knows that something is wrong. He returns to the tower to find Arius near death, and Loren cannot let the man die in his place.
Loren has crafted a web of lies that mean both he and Arius remain free. Arius is nursed back to health, and together they begin to make a life for themselves. But Arius has remained alive all this time by his god’s power, and he is no longer a sorcerer after failing to complete his god’s will. Loren is finally getting the acceptance from his blood family that he has always wanted. But when the Crown Princess witnesses something she only thinks she understands, Arius must lie to save Loren. Arius is willing to die to save Loren, but Loren just may figure out a way to save them all.
The blurb for this story captured my attention and I’d had my eye on it for a bit, never quite ready to take the plunge. Anne Mok is a new-to-me author, and I can be very picky about my high fantasy. But given that this week’s challenge, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to take a risk and pick up this book. And let me tell you right now, I am so glad I did. Mok might have been new to me, but I will absolutely be interested in anything she writes in the future
Fantasy is not an easy genre to write, but this author does it beautifully. I was swept away in the perfect prose, transported to a different time and place so easily I almost felt like I was there. The descriptions made the story come alive for me in a way that I don’t often experience. The language was rich and vivid, and I was utterly entranced.
Not only is the writing itself fantastic, but the character development was wonderful too. he author did an outstanding job with Arius and Loren. I was invested from the beginning. Arius showed who he was from the first word, gave us a true understanding of his thoughts and motivations. His changes and growth came about utterly organically and were completely believable. And Loren? How can you not love this guy? Self-sacrificing, a huge heart, and yet he was sweet and believable. There was no doubt in my mind that he was just that good. I takes talent to write that kind of character without it going over the top, but Mok hit all the right notes.
So this was well written with fantastic characters, but I have to admit I had a little quibble. I wanted more romance out of this guys. It wasn’t even the lack of sex, which is fade to black, that I had an issue with. It was that I absolutely understood these guys and their relationship as honorable men and I felt the love between them. But to me it didn’t feel like romantic love, and I was missing the connection between them. There was so much love there, but I’m making the distinction here that, to me, it didn’t feel like they were in love. So, for me, that was missing a bit, and I would have really liked to see it.
But this book is absolutely still worth a read. he eloquent writing and beautiful prose, not to mention the outstanding character, really makes reading this book time well spent. If fantasy is your thing, then this is a must read. And if it’s not, I still urge you to give it a try.
This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for New-to-Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win this week’s fabulous prize sponsored by Samhain Publishing, as well as our amazing grand prize sponsored by Riptide Publishing. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on New-to-Me Author week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.