It has not been so long since the child of Flame and Ice saved Emylnor from the formidable basilisk shifter and his small army. Akton and Talfryn have had time to rest and recover, time for their relationship to strengthen. They have managed to come to peace with the violence they were forced to witness and the violence they were forced to enact. They are still members of the Kynithremyln, shifters sworn to protect Ylenia’s people and kingdom, but other than the occasional report they are both content to do little more than build a library, take walks in the woods, and simply be Akton and Talfryn.
Unfortunately, Ylenia isn’t done with them. Emylnor is under attack again, from the dragon king, the man who bred Basil, the dragon who wants to destroy Ylenia and burn her empire to the ground. With Wren, the Child of Life and Death, and Lochlann, the Child of Wind and Stone, Akton and Tal are once again called forth to do battle. They must put themselves between human and shifter kind and save the world for a second time.
Lochlann, the griffin shifter, is a man who has always been on the outside of life. His damaged arm with its missing hand have made him an object of pity and ridicule. He hasn’t found anyone willing to accept him, flaws and all, and his last relationship ended so poorly he’s taken to hiding away. Until, that is, Wren came into his life. She says that he’s needed, that he’s important, that he’s wanted. So, of course, he follows her… right into the path of Akton and Talfryn.
Lochlann can’t help but want what the two men have together: a relationship. Another person to share his life with. He sees their happiness, their joy, their love, and he wants it. A fight between them gives him the edge he needs to start flirting and soon enough he’s no longer on the outside looking in. Now he’s in the the middle of a triangle, the most stable and balanced geometric shape there is.
Can the three of them find the harmony they need between them before they face the dragon king? Can they pool their talents quickly enough to help them slay dragons? Between the three of them, can they find the strength they need, the unity they need to take down the most powerful dragon in the world? Can the Child of Wind and Stone find the strength within himself to be worthy of his new lovers?
Wind and Stone is supposed to be the sequel to Flame and Snow, a book I reviewed earlier this year. A book that I liked, for all it’s flaws. This book has a vague resemblance in that it takes place in the same world, but the characters have been rendered into two-dimensional caricatures with Lochlann as both the star and the victim of this second book.
In the first book, Akton — the ermine shifter with healing powers — was cautious, snarky, and prickly. He was a shifter in a world that hated shifters, a man from a small village who was seeing towns he knew destroyed by an invading army. He didn’t want to get hurt, and yet by the end of the book he was willing to die for Talfryn. Talfryn had a sense of humor, a sense of justice, and optimism. They balanced each other very well and had the opposites attract vibe without being so blatantly dissimilar. Fire and ice, after all, but it was subtly done. In this book, Talfryn is a grumpy, surly martyr and Akton has no personality at all.
Lochlann is the main character of this book, being the titular Child of Wind and Stone. Instead of being someone I felt sympathy or empathy for, he repulsed me. His thoughts, when dealing with Akton and Tal, were… skeezy and selfish. When he discovered the two of them were a couple, he didn’t even think of stopping his attempts to flirt with them. No, he wanted their relationship for himself. He thought about breaking them up. But, aw shucks, he’s the victim because no one loves him. When they finally do come together — Akton and Tal agreeing to giving him a try — his first conversation has him asking about forever while they’re still basking in the afterglow.
It’s hard to write a book where a third person is introduced into a relationship. It takes some delicacy to show how the intimacy between two people shifts to include a third, but in this book it’s all about Lochlann. His feelings, his insecurities, how much they love him, how much he obsesses over them. And boy does he obsess! There is one — one — time where, post Lochlann, he sees Akton and Tal having a moment. Akton had asked Lochlann a question to which Lochlann glowered and snarled at him. When Tal put a hand on Akton’s shoulder and murmured something to him, Lochlann demanded to know “Why are you comforting him?”
Yes, how dare two people who love each other have a moment that isn’t about Lochlann and his feelings? The way the author treated and changed Akton in this book is offensive and cruel. Every moment he has with Tal (which are almost none), Tal is angry at him. When they find another salamander shifter, an older man Talfryn has been talking to after they rescued him, Akton asks if that man might be his father. Tal snarls at him and shuts him down. When Akton asks their griffin shifter partner — who has has no way of knowing is equally disabled in gryphon form as he is in human form — to fly them down to a balcony Lochlann turns on him. When Akton tries to apologize, Lochlann stares at him in silence until Akton finally goes away.
There are so many red flags in this book. This is in no way a story about a healthy relationship. Lochlann is dangerous, selfish, domineering, and emotionally abusive. He will have personal moments with Tal, but once Lochlann becomes involved, not in all the book do Tal and Akton have a moment that’s just the two of them. Akton is always wrong, made to look like he’s at fault. When he asks a question, any question, the others treat him like he just stabbed a baby in front of them.
The only reason for this to happen was to have conflict in the partnership so that they could overcome it and be stronger afterwards. Tal goes from being an empathetic, loving partner to being cruel and cold. Akton goes from being outspoken to all but promising to be a good boy and Lochlann gets all the love, all the attention, and all the power. In the fight scenes, it’s Lochlann’s powers that are the decisive ones. It’s Lochlann, Lochlann, Lochlann.
There’s even a scene where Lochlann and Tal follow Akton into the woods to torment him by seducing each other in front of him. Instead of this being fun or funny, it quickly turns dark and unpleasant as “Lochlann looked at as less as giving Akton a show and more as leaving him out…”
I’ll be honest. This book left a foul taste in my mouth and there were times I didn’t want to continue to read it. Lochlann is dangerous and unpleasant and finagled his way into a relationship that isn’t so much a triangle as it is Lochlann and his two lovers.
If it weren’t for the slick, sick, and oily sheen of Lochlann in this book, it wouldn’t be bad. The world building is interesting and the author built upon the first book to add complexity and creativity to her world. The dragons, the shifters, the magic were all intriguing and the fight scenes were decently written. However, the relationship at the center of this book is unhealthy and unpleasant. Avoid this book. Stick to book one and ignore Wind and Stone.