I picked this up because the whole omnibus was free on audible since it’s included in my prime membership. The description said part fantasy, part steam punk, part sci fi and part romance. These aren’t generally the kinds of books I pick up, so that’s precisely why I picked it up anyway… broaden my horizons for free, why not?
Ok, so there are two main characters which keeps the cast and characters fairly intimate allowing the reader to get to know them pretty well. Sardelle is a mage from 300 years ago that was frozen in time after a disaster, her magic was waiting to wake her up when her surroundings were habitable once more. She wakes up in a mine… a mine that’s also a prison camp which is full of the life-without-parole types. Also, in this new age, mages are hunted down and executed. I loved the fact that she has a sentient blade, I don’t know why I never get tired of that trope, but I don’t. The blade has the soul of a 16 year old sorceress who became ill and transferred her essence into the blade before her death. Because of how old she was at the time… she continues to be a snarky sassy killin’ blade. Sardelle’s soulblade is buried hundreds of feet underground, so she has to stay in the mine and try to get it out before she’s discovered.
The other character is a Colonel named Zirkander. I have to admit for the first half of the book every time I heard the name Zirkander, Ben Stiller as Zoolander popped into my head with his Blue Steel face. Hopefully I’m the only idiot with this problem. Zirkander is a pilot, he’s gotten himself into trouble…. for defending a fellow female officer against unwanted advances…. (not a fan of that reasoning) and was sent to go oversee this prison/mine. It’s a super sucky assignment and the guy who was in charge for the last few years left things an absolute disaster. Naturally, these two characters meet and Sardelle has to find out a way to keep her powers a secret while Zirkander tries to pry them out of her. He doesn’t believe the pirate backstory Sardelle has given herself and wants to find out the truth.
The world building was okay. I feel like magic users are super over powered, especially when combined with their soulblades. The powers mages have are both vast and varied and can do just about whatever the situation requires with no consequences. Shamans can have spirit animals and one of the enemy shamans had a giant owl-of-terror that sliced through soldiers like it was no big deal. Sardelle can read minds, control people, extinguish flames, detect life forces around her, heal herself and others, bust herself out of high security jails, etc. It was very hand wavy high powered magic… and sometimes I get behind that – but I don’t enjoy it when it’s used to solve all the problems.
I did not like the romance at all, it was way too quick and too intense off the bat. Two people who are enemies shouldn’t be falling for each other. I mean, honestly, if someone was my guard at a prison and thought I should be put to death just for being born the way I was, there’s no fucking way I’m falling for him. I really don’t like captor/prisoner romance things where the power dynamics are all fucked. It was a little more balanced than a typical prisoner/guard relationship since she’s a mage, but still.
This book had big highs for me and low-lows, making it difficult to come to a conclusion about how I feel overall. I got all three books for free, so I’ll just keep on listening through to the end, probably. The narrator is pretty good and the books are light and breezy making it a good choice for the audio version.
- Tropes: star crossed lovers, woke up after being frozen in time, forbidden magic, war on the horizon
- Tags: airships, mages, high powered magic, sentient swords, romance, light and breezy
- Genre: Steampunk, Romance, Light Military
- Plot: 10/15
- Characters: 10/15
- World Building: 11/15
- Writing: 12/15
- Pacing: 12/15
- Originality: 10/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 5/10
Final score: 70/100 or 3.5/5 on Goodreads