When I finished reading this book, I was joking with some people that I had something like ten pages of notes. Most reactions were like, what?! I had to explain: when I read about Kendras, Graukar, Runner, Widow, Selvan, Shadow, Amrash… I get happily lost in their world. If was going to write a review that was more than just me contentedly sighing and heh’ing all over the place, I had to take notes. So I did.
I promise I pared them down, for all of our sakes. 😉
Author: Aleksandr Voinov
Cover Artist: Reese Dante, Layout by L.C. Chase
Rating: 5.00 of 5 Stars
Even a king gets stung when he reaches for a scorpion.
After barely surviving an assassination attempt, King Adrastes is a changed man—one who mistrusts even his allies and friends. He readies his empire for war against an enigmatic enemy, the Elder of Vededrin, but not everyone approves. While courtiers dare only to whisper dissent, an outrider called Death foments rebellion in the mountains, aided by a prophecy that promises he’ll stop the Black King.
Kendras—former lover to Adrastes and leader of the Scorpions—is sent with his elite mercenary force to bring Death to justice. But when Kendras learns who’s hiding behind the mask, he must choose between his lover Graukar, newly-appointed general to the king—and King Adrastes himself.
With no man to call master, the Scorpions could flee the danger and intrigue. But Kendras cannot abandon the man he once loved—or the man he’s growing to love—without first uncovering the real threat to the Empire.
This third book in the Memory of Scorpions series picks up right where Lying with Scorpions left off. I was rapt and ready to play from page one. Kendras, Runner, Adrastes, Riktan, Dev, Lady Protector, Widow, Graukar, Shadow, Amrash, the gang’s all here and so am I.
An early aside: Selvan. He’s so smart, sees all and tries to make sure Kendras does, as well. He tries to take care of all of the Scorpions. He, along with Amrash, is one of the best well-drawn supporting characters I’ve been fortunate enough to hold in my heart.
Ok, back to bidness…
Widow at her side bore his usual habitual faint grin much like a blade bore its glint.
I mean, c’monnnnnnnnnnnnn! Brilliant. That’s Widow. Through Kendras’s wary eyes.
Another aside: just know you’ll see Kendras’s name throughout this review quite often. He deserves the attention paid.
Now then, Kendras and Graukar are at a place in their relationship where they’re sharing more of their personal thoughts, especially about how things are between them. It’s simply delicious to have a maturing couple portrayed as such, while still learning things about each other and us about them.
The usual suspects provide welcome humor in Shadow, Dev and Kiran. Kendras needs to be teased now and then to bring him out of his overwhelming serious side. Oh and Graukar is good at this, too. There were many times I found myself smiling while reading.
When the writing is this good, there is no separation, no barrier between me and the characters, the mood, the dirt and fear and desire, all of it. Every word has purpose. Yet this exacting nature doesn’t overshadow the story, it’s exactly what great writing does: fulfilling the purpose of these characters and what the author interpreted them to be. This makes me feel secure while in the hands of an author and their words. One hundred percent the case here.
Conflict conflict conflict. Voinov does conflict. He does characters making decisions that lead to complications with not always easy solutions. Changing allegiances, keeping secrets, risking deadly consequences for conspiring about which they feel are the right things to do in order to survive.
Another clever way of progressing a story is to allude to what could have led to overly long passages describing treks or discoveries that take place over days and weeks, and instead giving us the effects of the torture or heartache or relief. That’s what we want to know, to feel, how the characters are affected by things both in and out of their control.
”Just because it has never been done doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be.”
Risk and reward. That’s what it’s like reading Voinov’s stories, especially when fraught with all that I’ve described and more. If you survive the risk, you are definitely rewarded. This goes back to feeling secure with him as an author. It’s not security in that I won’t be greatly affected by his words but that I know I can trust what he’ll give me by way of them. Humor, heart, unpredictability and unbreakable bonds, among so many others.
Amrash. I could write pages on just this one character alone. Highly intelligent, kind but can be ruthless, calm, playful, and forceful in a way that makes the other character feel as if they made a decision all on their own.
Runner. She’s me. She’s me sometimes. Smart, strong and loyal. She wants to contribute, to pull her own weight, to be connected and respected. The continually growing friendship between Runner and Kendras is one of my favorite things about this story.
This is adventure at the ground level. It’s intimate, down and dirty, weighted in emotion with a long memory that stretches far back in time. Escape is difficult but not impossible.
Voinov makes the right choices when constructing a story. Instead of giving us the obvious scene or focal point, we get the much more interesting conversation or turn of events that make our heads turn, leading in a brand new direction. Again, unpredictability. It’s a treasure to me when reading a book. This book is a treasure. He left me wanting more while at the same time feeling like this was a wonderful place in which to end the story of Kendras, Selvan, Graukar and all of the Scorpions and what the future may hold for them.
Recommended. Get thee to a smithy and start forging a Scorpion blade of your own.
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Along with kindly being provided a copy for review by Riptide, I also proudly own my own. 😀
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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