War makes strange bedfellows.
I, Gaius Domitus, one-eyed rebel dragon king of the Provinces, know that better than most, since I have to fight off half my ungrateful family on a regular basis to keep law and order here in my lands. But I never expected to have to consort with a barbarian human woman.
Kachka is beautiful, if you like them fierce—and of course I do. But she keeps complaining about how spoiled and decadent I am, and how a feared Daughter of the Steppes has no time for foolish dragons. I think she likes my eye patch, though. It is quite dashing. With death always at our tails, we take our passion like we take our allies. As they say, love the barbarian you’re with…
I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.
I’ll admit I was hoping we’d FINALLY get Gaius’ story when I read Light My Fire, and to be honest I was a bit baffled when it wasn’t his turn. But I ended up loving Celwyn the Charming and Elina Shestakova of the Black Bear Riders of the Midnight Mountains of Despair in the Far Reaches of the Steppes of the Outerplains for themselves. And it lead us to the perfect heroine for Gaius, so it was absolutely worth the wait.
This is book 8 in the series (really, it seems like half the books I’ve reviewed for the past year have been book 8 in a series), and it isn’t a stand alone, so stop now and start at the beginning. No seriously, this series is too much fun and there will likely be spoilers for previous books in this review. For more information about reading order and the mystery of the changing author names, see my previous review.
Now onto my gushing. Aiken/Laurenston is one of my absolute favorite authors. Let me give you a clear picture of my great love for this author. I am a freaking cheap skate. My husband says with great relish that I am so cheap I squeak when I walk, well he doesn’t say it exactly like that, but close enough for government work. And my love for this author is so great that despite the fact that I now have my hot little hands on and ARC and can read it for free, I kept it on pre-order and am still going to pay my hard-earned money on it. If that doesn’t express my love for this author I can’t imagine what will, I mean I am the sort of person who drinks only water at restaurants because eff paying that kind of mark-up on a beverage.
But you dear readers don’t care about my great and terrible love, or my equally terrible cheapness. You care about the story. A wonderful story about a psychotic queen, ball busting steppes women, and dragons. Because really, what else is there to care about? But don’t worry, this is Aiken, and that is exactly what we get.
This was a romp in the truest sense of the word. Yes, there is an evil cult trying to gain traction in the world so the sightless god can destroy all who would oppose him. And yes this furthers the existing story arc. But it is still predominantly Kachka and Gaius’ story, and I adore them like the suns. I seriously didn’t think any characters could out crazy the dragons, but the Daughter of the Steppes take the cake. Loud, aggressive, dominant, uncouth, and completely matriarchal – they are hilarious. And they way they butt heads against the arrogant male dragons (or really anyone) is not to be missed.
And it was flat enjoyable getting to know King Gaius better. And seeing how he just came to life under Kachka’s influence was glorious. The two have adventures, singly and together. The make friends and find themselves and their places in the world. And now with the Scourge of the Gods at his side, how can he lose?
This was a really enjoyable story, assuming you enjoy loud and ridiculous characters, which I do. It also turned out the be a turning point in the story arc and makes recent events make much more sense. Which is kind of odd, because while those events are overall important, they weren’t an intrusion into the main character’s stories. I love it when an author can manage that. I am giving this book 4.5 stars, and I can’t wait to find out who is featured in the next one.