SUMMARY (from back): A woman awoken in air, a soldier forged by fire, a weapon risen from blood.
Vhalla Yarl has made it to the warfront in the North. Forged by blood and fire, she has steeled her heart for the final battle of the Solaris Empire’s conquest. The choices before Vhalla are no longer servitude or freedom, they are servitude or death. The stakes have never been higher as the Emperor maintains his iron grip on her fate, holding everything Vhalla still has left to lose in the balance.
WHAT I THOUGHT (WARNING THERE ARE SPOILERS!): Elise Kova is proving to be a master storyteller! I wanted to believe in the fairy tale relationship of Vhalla and Aldrick. I longed to. At the beginning of the book the narrative picks up resolving the angst left at the end of Fire Falling where we didn’t know if Prince Aldrick perished in his fall or not. I sweated three long months refusing to believe he could have died. And I was right- woohoot!! This discovery shortly into book three eased my heart’s trepidation and I was off on another adventure, happy as a lark.
Vhalla and Aldrick grow much closer and even intimate during the middle of the book, causing my skin to tingle and sending my heart a thumpin’ . I saw the trust they shared and rejoiced for them – could life get any better for the pair??? Yet Kova couldn’t let us live in a fantasy realm, for there is a deeper narrative to be told and she began sprinkling hints that Vhalla was glossing over Aldrick’s faults…starting with his drinking. I will admit I, too, glossed over the prince’s faults in my hunger to view him as Prince Charming.
But even after Vhalla fulfills her vow to the Emperor, gaining the respect of everyone in camp in the process, things come to a head. Oh how I loathed the power-hungry dictator. Very few authors have created villians that get under my skin like this man, but when the emperor asserts himself, we are clear that he controls everything and the lives of everyone within his domain–I cringed. We in America take our freedom SOOO for granted–I was not made to live in subjegation to anyone but the Law, but everyone in the Solaris empire knows a very different truth. Kova did a brilliant job of revealing more of this antagonist throughout the book.
And then the end, the last third of the book, arrived. The first time I read it I kept saying “No! No! This can’t be happening!” I wanted to plug my ears and squeeze my eyes tight and make the upheval stop! I mourned what unfolded and found myself devastated and nearly screaming out in anguish alongside Aldrick.
So I read the book a second time after a day of decompressing…yes it was that good…and found more perspective as I was less emotionally charged. Amidst the chaos, Kova shows us that Vhalla and Aldrick’s relationship is toxic for they are the world of the other and neither has formed a foundation upon which to build something lasting…yet. Vhalla comes to this realization first and it is only her courage that plunges the pair into a time of learning and personal growth.
This end to the book is very different to the panic from book two. It is a sober recognition that we must each become our own person before we can truly love another. While I resisted “going here,” I’m thrilled Kova is leading the way and I’m anxious to see what the pair learn about themselves in book four.
I gave this 5 stars with no reservations!
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