If you read other reviews on this book, it might be easy to get the impression that this book is some kind of steamy romance, set apart from others of its ilk only by the fantasy realm in which it is set. So, let me take a moment to throw that whole idea right out the window. This book is a serious work, dealing with serious thematic elements. The book’s strong characters deal with deep internal conflicts through the use of very human needs and emotions, often times through the use of sex as a very effective tool to advance the plot, and drive the conflict.
To be sure, there is plenty of steamy prose, fantastical sex in a fantastic, dark fantasy setting. But, the story is so much more, so much better than just that. So don’t be fooled into thinking that books that incorporate sex are just sexy books—dime-a-dozen throwaways.
This author proves that sex, if used appropriately (and not for simple, gratuitous reasons) is another tool in the writer’s belt that may be used to advance the story, resolve or heighten conflict. It is, after all, one of the driving forces of human nature. Like violence, it is visceral, animalistic in its genesis, and may be used as an underpinning of good or evil acts, for it takes us to our most base selves. The author of this story weaves it into the fabric of a great, dark tale, an extremely important component of the main character’s backstory, and how she deals with her own evolution in a truly wonderful, and heart-wrenching way.
Beyond that, Ms. Butcher creates a world for the reader that is very rich in history. The magic system in this story is also quite good, researched well and put together in an excellent believable manner—as good as most I’ve read.
The characters, most importantly Dii, are deep and well developed, keeping the reader interested in their wellbeing right from the get-go. We watch and we groan, and we cry and scream at the book, as she struggles through a dark world, dealing with the baggage foisted upon her by past built on slavery and abuse. This story deals with deep issues of abuse and racism and the toll it can take on a person. But it goes one more, it deals with the very human (elvish) ability to overcome, to face the darkness, deal with it in very stark terms, and turn the pain and horror of abuse into the iron-like strengths that define the best of us.
I recommend this book, not only for its strong, fantastic elements, but for its great story telling, and wonderful characters.
Take a read. I think you will enjoy.