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review 2016-07-01 10:31
His Master's Summons (Azgarth's Chosen Book 1) - Cassie Sweet

Jury says this book is cool.



But it’s not the usual romantic M/M story. For starters, we have two “pairs” and only with that you can figure out there will be less pages for each one of them, either if you like both or if you prefer one of them over the other one. When I started this book I noticed three things: one, I was going to love the medical and scientific stuff. Two, the magic part was going to be a main character in this story, not just the background. And three: I had no idea who will fall in love with whom.

Because there are four characters. And it’s something like this: A is friends but-wanna-be-more with B, B is bewitched by C, C has insta-love for D and D is a poor guy between a sword and a wall who is not sure what’s going on but may have a protective instinct for C, because he’s vulnerable, but at the same time knows B will give him a hard time if he finds out C is not returning his love.

Yeah, I’m aware that last paragraph is either mindfuck or a Logic problem.



So you obviously understand I was scratching my head wondering how the author would fix this mess and leave all people satisfied, including the reader.

Well, something had to fail and it did. I felt the characters were only bidimensional, with no depth. Still, the “principal” couple has a sweet story, albeit a little hastened. I couldn’t feel that vibe that convinces you this love is for real. It was too forced for me, it needed a slower fire to make it really tasty. It was a pity because it could have been beautiful and fulfilling, but it was not.

Andres is a virtuoso violinist and has been controlled by Wilhem since he took him out of the streets and made him famous. He wants to be free, and tries to flee, but… he dies.



Do not worry, because Dr Stanslovich has been investigating how to resurrect dead beings (he calls it “reanimation”) and voilá!, he’s successful this time. I was truly repelled by him. I was being told constantly that he was not arrogant, but he was, that he was a good person, but treated his helper, Henri, with such a disdain and superiority I couldn’t bring myself to make an effort to like him. He is so stubborn he can’t believe in the paranormal even when it’s right in front of his very eyes.



And that’s lead us to another guy who also has had to endure his personality, but he can’t complain, because he is paid precissely for that, if only to make ends meet and finish his career of Medicine. When he accomplishes that, he plans to have a business of his own. If I have to choose I’d say Henri is the most interesting one. He’s a wannabe physician, and he didn’t have an easy life. But in truth his passion lies in creativeness. He’s a real inventor, his machines and devices are his speciality and his talent.



Dr Savoy is almost a third wheel here, which is unfair, but true. His POV is the only one lacking and I don’t completely understand this. We have lots of POV: Andres’s, Henri’s, Dr Stanslovich’s, even Wilhem’s, the bad guy… but not Dr Savoy’s. That says it all. He is Dr Stanslovich’s friend, and so, he has had to put up with him for years. I don’t know if I should admire him or pity him.



The constant change of POV was misleading. I had no time to feel sympathy for any character, and much less to truly know them all. They were all very superficial to me, they could have been so much more than that. Their interactions were too stiff, too orchestated. I couldn’t say they were natural or that there was a real trust or friendship in them. It’s a bizarre feeling, but I honestly didn’t get why they stick together. Each one of them on their own path would have been much better, in my opinion.

The story doesn’t end in this book, it’s made clear there will be more. Why is that? Well, for the same reason superheroes movies keep having sequels: they kill the evil guy but there is a greater evil guy behind him. The gang will have to unite their forces again to save the day in the near future. Because the real menace hasn’t come yet. And of course, the love stories have to be developed, because one of them is obviously settled, but the other one is halfway there.

It sounds like I’m whinning endlessly but that’s not true. I liked the book, it’s original premise and as I said before, I love the medical stuff. Not overly bloody or morbid, just a little creepy (we have a living dead person here, for God’s sake, that’s a tough issue, don’t you think?) and a little surgical (a cut here, a sewing there, an inyection of something…) but no more than that. Just mildly unnerving details, which made my day.



The story is set some time between 1895 and 1920: they mention Julio Verne and H.G. Wells, and the atmosphere has that romantic feeling that lasted until WWI, with science being an important matter, as well as music. Men wear hats and women still cover their bodies with heavy clothes. That as far as I can guess. And I could be wrong.

The fae world and atmosphere is confusing. I’m still not sure what’s going on here. It seems there is a parallel reality whose limits become blurred once and again. Azgarth is the villain, but it wasn’t made clear to me if he pulled all the strings by himself or not. Because he’s bad, but then he protects the characters, but then he punishes, but then he toys with them and puts the frustratingly easy “When the moment comes, you will know” card on the table that solves nothing. His mood swings are inconsistent and umbelievable. He sounded very childish sometimes, I honestly can’t explain why he is so feared when he is so ridiculous. I get he is powerful and he makes random demonstrations of that.



The problem is… they were randon, I have no idea why he behaves this way or the other, which are his purposes, which are his motivations. Why he is bad, why he is good, why he is powerful. If you can do that, why do you do that in that scene or not in the one before? Why do you focus on this when that other thing was more important and urgent? If you can attack because you have that power, why don’t you? If you could win, why do you let them to live happily until they gather enough strength to fire back? Why there is a mess all of a sudden and then just by chance a weakness casually appears and hurts him? Why why why why why?



Too many questions, too few answers. I had the feeling this was a stage play were actors put faces to demonstrate they are afraid but those faces are fake, because, in truth there is nothing horrific about him but just to please him they act as if he was. The same way you indulge a little boy buying him a lollipop to make him stop crying.

So, all in all, it was an entertaining read. But sadly, it had lots of flaws, from my view.




****



***Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

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review 2016-02-09 00:00
His Master's Summons (Azgarth's Chosen Book 1)
His Master's Summons (Azgarth's Chosen Book 1) - Cassie Sweet Book – His Master's Summons (Azgarth's Chosen #1)
Author – Cassie Sweet
Star rating - ★★★★★
No. of Pages - 234

Movie Potential - ★★★★★
Ease of reading – very easy to read and follow
Would I read it again - Definitely


** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine


As the title suggests, this is the first of a series, so don't expect a HEA at the end. There's a very nice HFN, but this is just the first story in a long journey and I love that. I'm often drawn to series, because I love following the same characters over and over again. I don't know – and can't say – how prominent these characters will be in future books, but I can only hope that at least Andres and Henri are back as main characters. I'd also like to know more about Mikhail and Dante's past.

~

To start with, I just have to applaud Cassie Sweet on being an incredible storyteller. Not one moment went by that I wanted to put the book down, have a break or needed time to digest what was going on, because of confusion. Everything was perfect, in that imperfect way of novels – I got what I wanted and what was promised, without a neat little, impossible, bow at the end, pretending everything was hunky dory. It's not.

This book ends on a moderate cliffhanger, the way that all good series-books should. Yet, it wasn't abrupt or sudden, it wasn't unexpected or leave me with unanswered questions. I learned everything I needed to know, in this story. The few questions I have, I'm positive will be told in future stories of the series. Why? Because there was a constant and regular importance – minor to the main plot – that implied as much.

The characters – Dante, Mikhail, Henri and Andres – are brilliant. Each are unique and clever, witty and sophisticated in that old fashioned way of the 1800's. Dante is a brooding, dark soul, who is haunted by his past. Mikhail is the positive medical force, rooted in science, but short sighted and abrupt. He treats staff like staff, while Dante is more free-flowing with social conformity. In contrast, Henri is Mikhail's assistant; clever, feisty, talented and inventive, he is more willing to see outside the box of their social parameters. As is Andres, the violinist, who is marked by the Fae.

The chemistry between Henri and Andres is palpable, jumping off the page from their first meeting. But, even then, it's got an understated feel about it. They don't fight it in the traditional sense, but from propriety and the difference of their social classes. Right from the first, you can sense a comradery between them that is heart-warming. I was honestly worried, at one point, that Mikhail would get his way with Andres, because he was so jealous of Henri's closeness to him. As a character, Mikhail was blind as a bat to everything that should have been obvious, but I think that worked really well. It was appropriate for his character and for his profession. At the same time, I love that Henri is more accepting, though he's sceptical and uses proven personal experiences, his trust in Andres and the concept of faith – believing in a God or Devil that cannot be seen – as further proof to understand Andres fears and the Fae world.

As a villain, Wilhelm is intriguing and a clever director. But, Azgarth is an even more impressive puppet-master. He wangled things just nicely, knowing decades in advance exactly what skills might come in useful later and how to manipulate them. He gave certain of his chosen ones the time they needed to perfect the talents they required to do his bidding. It was a low undercurrent of the novel, that occurred to me around halfway through, because of a certain conversation that I can't mention. But, once the idea came to me, I warmed to the whole idea of just how powerful the Fae may prove to be in future books. Azgarth is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

The musical and medical knowledge is second to none. I've honestly never read a book about either that has covered the subject so well, in such appropriate amounts of detail, without elaborating for their own plot needs. Similarly, there is good, historically accurate knowledge of the time, the medicine of that time and the rest, that really makes this stand out as a brilliant story. It could remain nothing more than a great historical novel, if it wasn't for the addition of the Dark Fae. This is what brings that Fantasy/Supernatural feel to it and it's cleverly done.

The world created – both the human world and that of the Fae – is extensive, well written and fully explored to my satisfaction, without any feeling of there being something missing. Every time they stepped into this alternate world, you could almost sense it coming, but could never be quite sure of what might happen. The suspense and mystery was a nice touch, that I enjoyed.

There are a few notes that I made that I can't share with you. Mostly, this was on my theories of what the story entailed, as I read it, and what might be revealed. Some of those theories have been hinted at a solution, but one hasn't been given, so I'm not going to share mine right now. I'll be waiting patiently for the next book, to see if I'm right.

~

OVERALL

I'm still digesting. There was a lot of intricacy in the story and I'm still pondering over how the events might effect what comes next. Truthfully, though, the story and writing was so fantastic that I dropped into a little world of my own. Where Fae seemed possible, where the music haunted my non-reading time, and where the concept of what might happen next is right at the front of my mind.

Reading this in one sitting, the story is a little more intense than some others in the M/M genre. Make no mistake, this is not an M/M romance. This is powerful, well crafted M/M fantasy all the way. Yes, there is a romance, but that's a secondary plot to the one that holds the story together. And for that, I'm so grateful. The sex scenes were great and realistic, but well contained to what is appropriate for the story and the plot.

Cassie Sweet has just made it onto my auto-buy list.

~

FAVOURITE QUOTE

I have two. I was too engrossed with the story to notice if others would make brilliant quotes or not.

“Andres lifted the violin and ran the bow across the strings. A melody sweet and seductive began to pour from the instrument. If Henri wanted to give Andres a choice, he'd choose Henry. With heart and soul bleeding into the air, he played for only Henri, to show him what he'd been unable to say so far. The words were there as notes, caressing, penetrating every part of the body.”

“The love and trust reflected back from Henri's eyes was enough to make Andres want to slay dragons and defeat dark fae in sing-handed combat.”
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review 2014-05-12 00:00
Eye of Truth
Eye of Truth - Cassie Sweet Below is a sort of CinemaSins-EWW-esque commentary on this story (for a large part, but not all, of it). To quote CinemaSins: Spoilers. (duh)


*

k, wow. DSP really likes that Aquiline (Two) font yeesh.

(1) MC is named "Theodyne Thespacian" and you expect me to take this seriously?
^Gah, see, this is what happens when I watch Cinema Sins. I start writing these EWW-esque reviews =_=

(2) Sentence 2. "After spending the last four years inside the stale, moldy confines of Pallonia Prison for thieving, the morning breeze that blew down into the valley from the mountains made him choke."
It's long, it's wordy, it's diffuse, and it has a shitty payoff. You get to the end, think there's going to be a beautiful breath of fresh air, and end up ironically choking to death from all of the freshness?

(3) Sentence 3. "Breath sputtered and wheezed out as he tried to gain control of his lungs." For some reason the first part of the sentence feels really passive-voice-like.

Eh. Actually, I dunno. Maybe it's kind of a cool effect? Like it subverts your expectations? We'll have to see. I'm still not over "Theodyne Thespacian."

Man, I feel like I should do video reviews. But then, my video reviews would be like hours long, just hours and hours of me ranting and going on and on forever about the littlest things.

(5)
No, wait
(4) [beginning of] Paragraph 3. "Theodyne nearly told the man that if the conditions were better, it wouldn’t happen. But at this stage of the game, standing outside the prison walls..."
...the fuck was there a prologue I missed? Is there a game we should know about? Yes, there is. Which means, then, the author should probably let us know about it.

The guard reached into his uniform and pulled out a small leather-bound packet. “These here are your release documents. Keep them with you at all times or the city guards will lock you up again.”
♫ NOW PRISONER 24601 / YOUR TIME IS UP AND YOUR PAROLE BEGUN / YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS? ♫
Yes, that was very necessary

"He ran a finger down the telling scar. Tingles erupted under the puckered flesh where it hadn’t quite healed sufficiently."
...Oh, is that how scars work? I've never had any wound serious enough to scar before. Someone, please tell me. Is this how scars work? ...because I know at least all that sex bullshit about scars being more sensitive is absolute bullshit, but this is a still-healing wound, right? I mean, if I remember correctly, still-healing wounds just hurt when you touch them. Either that or they itch if they've started scabbing over.
Tingly wounds, anyone?

"Resentment burned up his gullet."
...that sounds like something you need to see your doctor for. (seriously, gullet? Like your esophagus? You sure that's not just heartburn? I think that might actually be heartburn you're feeling.)

"Women and men alike had thrown themselves at his feet and in his bed."
Honestly, the "at his feet" was enough. Like don't worry, we can extrapolate so far as "in his bed." By superimposing the two, you've actually defeated yourself, because now I'm visuallizing those two actions literally. That's what you get for mixing metaphors.

"And who was he to have denied himself the pleasure?"
Ah, slight arrogance couched in self-deprecation. ...actually, that's good. That's relatable. You go, Glen Coco. Way to write.

"The pickings, once so bountiful, were going to dry up like grapes on the vine if not plucked in time."
...*sigh* knew it was too good to last. Look at you, mixing metaphors again. I mean, you can interweave metaphors; that's fine. Then you get Hannibal. But look at you, you're just mixing them willy nilly, throwing them all together and hoping the threads smooth out into a beautiful tapestry (or at least a tapestry of some sort) instead of ending up the tangled mess part of you has to know it will.

(I mean, I know I'm micro-analyzing/nit-picking here, but I don't actually have that big a quarrel with it, not so far, at least).
Whoo. Page 2

And wow, hey look, this part is actually pretty good. You create an atmosphere, establish a mood. Sure, the MC's kind of an asshole, but aren't we all? And he's spunky. Dickish, sure, but still spunky. Creates character dynamic.
Nice.
(Then again, I did just come from reading that godawful piece of shit gah I don't even want to name it fine The Price so who knows, maybe my expectations/standards have been lowered)


OH, LOOK AT YOU. NOT MIXING YOUR METAPHORS. IN FACT, RUNNING WITH THE METAPHOR YOU DELINEATED. I'M PROVISIONALLY AND TEMPORARILY SO PROUD OF YOU (okay fine, that's a bit of a stretch, but the sentiment is kind of there)


*sigh* I could say so much more, but basically, it boils down to "melodrama." And meh, probably. Some of the meh comes from melodrama.
And holy fuck Nico is a pedophile creeper. Or he comes off that way.
It's just...the entire construction. All of the stupid melodrama. It renders the whole thing histrionic. There are sometimes these stupid non sequiturs that would only result if the speaker already have some stupidly melodramatic scenario in mind and was bound and determined to force that to play out and/or responded as if that situation were happening instead of what was actually happening. Most of the histrionic bullshit comes from the MC. That makes him hard to like and makes me sympathize with all the rest of the characters who have to deal with this psycho.

Gah. Just. Ugh. Let me list off a few more (CinemaSin-EWW-style):
UST between characters is weird and awkward.
Theo jumping to the stupid conclusion that apprenticeship = he wants to keep me as a pet (like dude, did you miss the "you'll have to work" thing?)
The name Durgin.
Pretty much any and every interaction between Theo and Nico so far. (~11%)
Nico
The name Guisseppan
The fact that Theo demands payment for that half day of work (which isn't bad in and of itself) but then feels the need to have the last word with a stupid non sequitur one-liner.
Theo being an asshole to dead people's handwriting and Nico calling it a "dry wit and cynical tongue."
Woe-is-me-I-was-in-prison-it-changed-me speech.
Nico totally buying into the bullshit.
Theo seeing this job offer as a personal affront to the core of his being (aka a thief).
Theo acting like he's doing Nico a favor by accepting his job offer.
(point in its favor: Nico lampshades ^)
Nico being an ass to Guisseppan to get back at him for being an ass to Theo, who is an ass to everyone and does not need his poor-little-rich-boy ego stroked. This will be sure to engender good will in Guisseppan and not make him resent the fascist aristocracy.
Theo's POV describes the hard bench under padding of the "finest cloth" as if the hardness of wood is a personal affront to the core of his being.
Theo is really, really obssessed with this idea of being someone's pet (but only in the sense that he rails against it, of course).
Some bullshit about magic sounds.
Some bullshit about Theo being able to push those sounds away (with extra concentration, of course).
Awkwardly bringing up the ex.
For some reason, needing to enumerate exactly what Nico and Theo's relationship is, as if we hadn't been here the past few pages to read about the apprenticeship.
Bullshit melodrama about how Nico can drop him like he's hot (but not in the fun sexy way) and get him sent back into prison and more bullshit.
Bullshit judge of character as if he knows every aspect of Nico. And post hoc disclaimer.
Theo's heart tripping (and pounding).
Really awkward and unfounded UST right after taking about his ex.
"Odd and fanciful thoughts" racing through Theo's mind.
Magic ink that is either purple, pink, or black, depending on how the light shines on it and the time of day and perhaps the ink's particular mood at the moment (hyperbole).
Words lodging in Theo's sacrum (You can't fool me; I looked it up:
image)
Apparently Theo's soul exists in his ass. Also, the Count's voice went there along with the words.
"Face of a fallen god" cliche.
Again, every interaction between Nico (or, "The Count") and Theo. (~13%)
"Never having any grand plans" cliche.
Theo feeling the "acute intimacy of being along with the Count."
Either really obvious Chekhov's gun or really weirdly placed emphasis.
"...between madman and genius" cliche.
^while remaining "remarkably stable"
Theo wanting to please "the Count" because he's both "intensely intelligent" as well as possessing "the curiosity of a child" while still remaining "remarkably stable." (paraphrased and slight hyperbole)
"The priests would call you a blasphemer" cliche
(Sidebar: Yes, I know I'm nit-picking. Bluntly speaking, though, without this, I doubt I'd be able to get through this...this.)
Crude "comeback" clearly inserted by author to create sexual tension so that sexing up can eventually happen.
^followed by a sensuous smile. that "lifted the corner of the Count's mouth."
"A fever spilled inside Theodyne's body." (cumming from the inside-in?)
"For the first time in his life" cliche, relating to something something sex stuff? (unbalanced for the sake of drama cliche)
Sexual tension filled dinner scene does not include a lapdance.
"Drinking is bad for thieves" cliche.
Throwaway lines all around. Man, these characaters sure like the sound of their own textual voice.
Literal pointless throwaway conversation.
"I can see your value, even if you do not" cliche.
Boo-hoo-me-no-one-wants-me by Theo. Also cliche.
Looking down into "the Count's" smiling face. What, is he suddenly looming over the Count?
Seeing things MC has only dreamed of cliche.
Discount baddie, brought up incongruously in what appeared before to be a seductive dinner scene. Also, scene still does not include a lapdance.
More sensous lips lifting at single corners.
Break to wax poetic about "the Count's" muscly muscles.
The sheer number of "the Count"'s everywhere.
Theo staring into "the Count's" lap and not giving him a lapdance.
Suddenly, shame. Why? I can think of no reason why, except I may have missed it when my eyes glazed over during their "witty" "repartee."
Suddenly, a "worthy goal" for our previously grand-goal-less MC.
More swirling desire.
"Been there, done that; don't wanna go back" in a relationship context cliche. (aka Defrosting the Ice Queen)
Taking a break to wax poetic about cascading colorful tendrils of lights that danced in intricate patterns on the ceiling like luminscent waterfalls (paraphrased).
^pausing for a paragraph in awe
^inexplicably calming cliche
^the lights danced over him as he lay down. wondering how he would sleep with such a spectacle cliche
Boo-hoo-me I've slept through worse than a beautiful awe-inspiring calming light show. And now let me wax poetic about my pain.
^Sentence fragments in an attempts to generate poetic angst.
Suddenly having absolutely no problems, not even with PTSD for retraumatizing self, and the lights moving him into "a state of toal relaxation."
Words of arcane alchemist dancing before his eyes like lights as he drifts off to sleep in complete euphoria.
Gross overuse of words in brief spans of time/space.
Nico ordering the care of a messenger passing out from exhaustion to deliver an important message only after rolling him over to find an insignia for the Gold School emblazoned somewhere mysterious on the dude under layers of mud.
"Poor, unfortunate" not followed by "souls."
Aside to give simultaneously pointed and pointless about nameless passed out messenger.
Theo apparently possesses quite extensive medical knowledge.
Any and all interaction between Nico and Theo
"A well of desparate longing filled Nico's heart" (cliche).
"...hadn't succumbed to his trials, but had risen above them and took those lessons with him into the world" cliche throwaway line.
The sheer number of cliche throwaway lines at only 16.4%
Theo is suddenly a surgeon.
"Milking the infection from the site" (why can't you just do what normal people do and use "drawing"? It makes it less awkward with all the stupid sex stuff you have floating around everywhere.)
"It was that look of total concentration that made Nico know..." (awkward passive voice)
Me needing to take a fanfic break to cleanse my palate before continuing reading this.
More stuff burning down Theo's throat.
Feelings of wrongness cliche.
Waxing didactic about how alchemy is NOT devil work and generally carrying as if attempting to debate with a pigeon.
Quiet clinks of glass against tabletop invading Nico's thoughts (and taking over and establishing itsn own dynasty?)
Boo-hoo-me poor science against religion alas and alack and generally carrying on melodramatically and self-righteously, full of righteous indignation against the iniquities of the church and the nobility who live in its pockets.
Invisible ink cliche.
//Dear god I'm only at Chapter 5? I'm not even a quarter of my way through this thing?

You know what fuck it; I'm done.
Mission Abort ~17.9%
47p


(this is from before I read it)
Honestly, idk, man. To be blunt, I didn't really like Magpie Lord thing stuff whatever that's called all that much. As in really not at all (which is weird cuz like wow historicals of the era of well-turned calves, and lords, and depression but actually curse generated depression, curse, magic, and I dunno, stuff. You'd think I'd like it. Oh, right, the white-people-referencing-China thing bothered me. Eh, but I don't think that was a deal-breaker. Just...something about the relationship. I think I'm tired of yaoi relationships. Part of why I escaped yaoi into M/M to begin with. I mean, to be fair, a lot of the early stuff I read wasn't exactly the best of examples of not-heterosexualization of homosexual relationships, but they at least weren't so bad. And I don't even know where I'm going with this anymore. Am I even still in the parenthetical? Hold on; let me check...and yep, I am. Gah. How many lines is this? I literally have no idea where I'm going, and now I'm thinking about Captain America), and then someone made a comparison to that in one of their reviews (hey, kinda found my way back), so now I really don't know about this. Plus, I'm remembering some other godawful fantasy story involving a thief blackmailed into infiltrating whatever and stealing shit whatever and that ended rather disastrously reading-wise, so now I really don't know. Not enough to put it in maybe-later, though; I still cling to (false?) hope. Eh. *shrug* *waves helplessly*
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review 2013-12-02 18:06
Eye of Truth by Cassie Sweet
Eye of Truth - Cassie Sweet

4 1/2 Hearts

 

Alchemists and Elementals 01

 

Review written for MM Good Book Reviews

 

Theodyne finds himself in desperate straits when he is released from prison, his sister has moved, his belongings long gone and his stash of buried goodies seem to have been discovered. Swearing to stick to the straight and narrow Theo seeks honest work but being branded a thief makes his options limited. When a former associate tries to tempt Theo with stories of untold riches by gaining the Eye of Truth, Theo ends up at the owner’s villa seeking gainful employment. Nicodemus isn’t looking for a new employee when Theodyne comes knocking on his door, but he notices the man has a potential for alchemy and takes him on as his apprentice. When Nicodemus is called to the Gold School, which his family founded, he takes Theodyne with him and they discover an ancient foe is gathering and determined to discover the secrets of the Gold School while seeking power in the Dominical city-states. Theo and Nico must work together to battle the evil that plagues the alchemists and can only hope that they lose that which means the most to them.
 
Oh what a treat this book was to read, a wonderful fantasy story with great characters and a brilliant plot. Theodyne lived the high-life before getting caught red-handed stealing, now he has learned his lesson well and although destitute he has no intentions of returning to his old way of life. Taking an apprenticeship looks to be his best option and the man offering it to him looks even better. Nico is stunned when he first sees Theo but the man’s power calls to him first. Their attraction is felt from the first but they keep their feelings to themselves, the relationship that develops between them is a slow burning one, they have much more important things to worry about as Theo begins his studies and Nico mentors him.
 
I loved this story that is heavy on the plot and lighter on the relationship, I found that the writing of the story was brilliant and dragged me in to a world where change is happening and dark forces are working in the background. The characters are interesting and come to life leading us on an adventure that never bores. The story is quite simple, Theodyne has served his punishment but will be forever marked, his experiences in prison have added to his knowledge which he puts to good use. Being given a chance he has no intention of squandering, he strives to do his best but refuses to be put down by anyone. When he joins up with Nico he learns a lot about himself and he lays his loyalty at Nico’s feet and when danger comes he will fight besides Nico every step of the way. Nico takes on his apprentice just because, and he finds quickly that Theo is honest and can be trusted and come to rely on the man as they try to discover how far the evil has spread.
 
We follow Theo and Nico as they work to discover just what is going on at the Gold School, finding that there might be traitors in their midst, dark magic being used and that the corruption might just be deeper than they suspected. We also see how their relationship is built on trust and friendship, Theo has had a powerful lover in the past and finds it hard to put himself in that position again, but giving that trust makes their relationship beautiful and lasting. We see a lot of secondary characters who each have an important part in the story, because without even one of them the story wouldn’t work quite as well, their supporting roles make this story great and doesn’t bog it down or hold it back. There’s just enough action and it never gets over the top, we see Theo improving with his studies at a good pace and the explanation for the elementals means that we don’t get lost when it plays a larger part in the story.
 
 
I recommend this to those who love fantasy and high fantasy, a steady relationship being built, trust being earned, devious goings on, great characters, a brilliant storyline and an ending that leaves you wondering what will happen next.
Source: mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com
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