Rating: 5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella

 

When the Penthii army set up camp just within the borders of Averene, the queen called up both her army and Lorre, Averene’s sorcerer. Now, the Averene troops are camped out waiting either for battle to erupt or for Lorre to magically resolve the issue. The waiting is hard, but it is especially so for Evander “Van” Roche and Milo Perrot. For Van, it’s a struggle to be so tantalizingly close to the beautiful and perfect Lorre knowing that he, a simple innkeeper’s son, has nothing to offer such a powerful being. For Milo, seeing his new best friend Van rationalize his unrequited love with self-deprecating comments is more than he can bear. Then there is Lorre, who is nominally the sorcerer of Averne, but considers himself no one’s subject–especially when they refuse to let him magically resolve the very water-based issue that troubles the two countries. Frustrated and needing some kind of outlet, Lorre picks a random soldier to spend the night with…and that soldier is Van.

Beside himself with elation, Van is sure all his fantasies are about to come true, if only for a single night. Even better is the moral support, not to mention sartorial support, his loyal friend Milo provides. Full of nerves and hope, Van goes to Lorre as requested and has a night that is beyond his wildest expectations physically. But in the light of the next day, Van begins to suspect that Lorre is looking for something Van can’t provide. Van feels even worse when he realizes Milo has been beside himself with worry thinking that Lorre has done unspeakable harm to Van. Plus, his fellow soldiers’ general reaction to his spending time with Lorre makes Van understand that being phenomenally powerful can also be phenomenally alienating–for Van, as well as Lorre. When Lorre requests a second night with Van, Van is determined to provide what comfort he can to the sorcerer, but must also contend with the growing realization that Lorre may not be the one he truly wants.

Arrows is a historical high-fantasy novella from K.L. Noone. It’s part of the Middle Lands stories and the author kindly provided a timeline with this book and notes Arrows comes first chronologically (if anyone was wondering what happened to Gareth from Magician, like I was at first). The story is told in third person from Van’s side of things. Of course, this makes Van’s inner turmoil easy to read. He’s not just distracted by Lorre’s ethereal beauty, but deeply concerned about fulfilling his duty as a bowman. He’s easily the most consistent shooter in drills, but Van is extremely wary of having to use that skill to kill an enemy. All of that helped make Van a more interesting character, beyond being a bed warmer for Lorre and the target of Milo’s unrequited feelings.

I especially loved the Van POV when Van begins to realize how much he appreciates Milo. For example, Van takes great comfort in having Milo there to comfort and soothe him after his night with Lorre. I also enjoyed how Van and Lorre had a second night of passion together, but Van was fully coming to terms with the fact that he felt more than friendship for Milo just as he was understanding friendship was the only thing he could offer Lorre. You would think Milo and Van would be heading towards a huge emotional hurdle with Van pining for Lorre then getting to sleep with the magician not once, but twice. The reality was delightfully far more nuanced and left me thinking even more highly of both Lorre and Van.

That left me wondering about how Milo would ultimately react after Van’s second night with Lorre. Milo was privately intensely hurt/jealous, but outwardly ready to do anything to help Van cope with any fallout. (Note: Van is an enthusiastic participant in all the sex.) But, of course, there was no cheap melodrama here. Milo doesn’t hold Van’s (former) infatuation with Lorre against Van, nor does he think too ill of Lorre for being who he is. Mostly, Milo is there, ready to be the man Van already knows he is. The Van/Lorre element was an insightful, steamy, roundabout way to get the two real love interests, Van and Milo, together. And once they come together, they realize their lives will mesh together in perfect harmony.

All in all, this was a delightful read. I loved seeing a younger version of Lorre and getting such an intimate look at who he is as a person. I loved that Van got his sexy wish to be with the magician, which both helped develop Lorre’s position in society, as well as help Van realize who he really wanted. And I loved how obviously Milo is in love with Van, how he literally helped Van seduce another man just because that’s how much Milo wants Van to be happy. If you enjoy the Middle Lands books, you’ll absolutely enjoy this installment and getting to know more about Lorre and watching Van and Milo figure things out.