In a world ruled by the divine will of the stars, two lovers find themselves torn ruthlessly apart as their city is engulfed in the flames of revolution, unaware that a greater threat is looming on the horizon. Long ago, when the stars came to the world, there was peace. The people of Gemynd were given the divine and star-blessed right to rule over the people of Rask, to govern them, to protect them, and in turn to guide them. But generations have come and gone and the farmers, crafters and traders of Rask are starving under the rule of Gemynd. Cries of starvation and pleas for equality fall on deaf ears and are met with force from the Constellan Guard. The stars fell once. It may be time for them to fall again.
Einya became an Astrologer for power — the power to marry the woman she loves without requiring permission, and the power to protect Tollska from starvation and suffering. Einya became an Astrologer for love, because she loves Tollska almost as much as she loves the stars. She believes in her calling … or, at least, she thought she did. When Tollska is taken from her, Einya finds herself questioning everything, and the answers she finds are enough to break her heart as she gets caught up in the revolution, trying to bring about the peace and balance the stars are supposed to represent.
Tollska has loved Einya since they first met. They planned their wedding, their lives, their future … but it was only the foolish, innocent dreams of children. Tollska is a Raskian, and she sees her people suffer beneath the weight of the Gemynd boot pressing down on the back of their necks. Tollska is not a mere pawn to be moved about the board by the revolution; she’s the queen piece, meant to be placed high on the board where she can do the most good. And, for now, that means marrying the Constellan Guard Captain, Perth Arden — Einya’s cousin. It means standing beside her, sleeping beside her, and supporting her until the time comes when she can strike.
Einya and Tollska are two star-crossed lovers, but then there’s the third member of this love triangle: Pearth Arden. Pearth is a strong, driven woman, fighting to protect her homeland from threats, external and internal, as the settlement of Parlenta wants to take their stars, grind them up, mine them, and use them for weapons to conquer Gemynd, and the farmers of Rask who seek to topple society and overthrow the Gemynd nobility without realizing the dangers Parlenta represents to each of them. Her own cousin reveals the secrets of their political instability to the enemy, forcing Pearth to make decisions faster and with more brutality than she might otherwise have wished, but no matter what happens, she will not surrender her homeland. Because if Pearth falters for even a second, she loses everything.
Pearth has a fondness for Tollska, even though it may not be the bright burn of the true love Einya and Tollska feel for one another. She may have chosen Tols for politics, but they’ve lived together, shared a home and a bed for months, and for all that Pearth uses force, threats, and blackmail to keep Tols under her thumb, she does it knowing she can’t win any other way. She loves her wife, but she’ll use any weapon in her arsenal in order to save the stars, and to save as many lives as she can. For Pearth the ends justify the means, and she’ll martyr her wife — she’ll matyr herself — to save Gemynd.
The story is told primarily from Tollska and Einya’s points of view as they come at the revolution from two different sides — the true believer and the new convert — and I honestly regret that Pearth isn’t given equal weight. Just as Tollska fights for her people, so too does Pearth. Just as Einya fights for her beliefs, so does Pearth. And just as Tollska and Einya love one another, so too does Pearth love Tollska. And she’d like her cousin on her side, she really would. But that’s not how this story goes.
This book is heavy on world building, and heavy on politics and angst. Einya and Tollska spend very little of the book together, but when they do, you can feel the pining and the regret. All three women are strong, determined, and filled with character, and not one of them are blameless for the events that take place in this book. Not one of them are evil, either. This book isn’t necessarily a great romance, but it’s a very well-written, well-plotted story that absolutely held my attention.
I don’t know if there’s a sequel planned (I think there might be, considering how this book ended), but if there is, I’ll be very interested in reading it. This is the author’s debut book and it’s absolutely worth the read. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.