Ivan hasn’t known much joy in his life. He was supposed to be a powerful psion, but after his power failed to materialize, he became a pariah and eventually a slave to his savage sister. After years of abuse, he ends up on Bora Bora, the last stop for slaves across the empire. He expects to be worked to death and at least then he’ll finally be free of his sister and the family that failed to protect him.
Instead, Ivan finds himself first protected by and then allied with a strange prisoner who claims to be a Lotus Knight on a secret mission. Ivan has his reservations, but there’s no doubt the two of them make an incredible team. And under the man calling himself Sir Yaden, Ivan finally discovers the power that has eluded him for so long.
The Windmines of Bora Bora is the second in the Virsana Empire series, following The Demon of Hagermarsh. Unfortunately, the things that I enjoyed about the first book really don’t making a showing here and what’s left feels like a huge disconnect. The Yaden we meet in The Demon of Hagermarsh is a bit naive, but charming and engaging. He’s eager to rush into danger and to help and, as a result, he has an almost puppyish quality about him. Here he isn’t much of anything. Oh, he’s heroic enough, but I never got any sense of him as a person. He read as secondary to the overall story and almost as a stranger. It was disappointing, especially given that he was one of the strongest aspects of the first book.
Ivan is sympathetic, but like Yaden, he fails to develop as an actual character. He’s bland and lacks much complexity. He seems eager to align himself with Yaden, but aside from their desperate situation, it’s never clear why. They’re just pushed together and as readers we’re told to believe they’re destined to be bosom friends. Ivan also refers to Yaden as Smelly for most of the book and while this is explained, it was strangely irksome to me, given he knew Yaden’s real name.
The story seems generic and somewhat withdrawn from its own characters. There is plenty of action, which keeps the pacing strong, but the plot feels hollow. It lacks much of the quirkiness that made the first book so fun. The world building, which was incomplete in The Demon of Hagermarsh, is almost completely absent here. As a result The Windmills of Bora Bora, aside from giving Yaden a sidekick, didn’t really expand or grow his story as a Lotus Knight.
I was really looking forward to The Windmines of Bora Bora, but instead of furthering the series, this book felt like an absolute detachment from the world and characters previously established. I’ll probably read the third in the series to see if this entry was an aberration, but The Windmines of Bora Bora didn’t fully work for me.