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.
Review: I picked up this book knowing it was the third in a series but as I started reading, I realized that it would have been much easier had I read the first two books. It was hard keeping track of who was who and what position they held as well as some of the terminology. As it’s the third book, there wasn’t much background explaining the past events leading up to the events current in this book. However, once I got past a little confusion it was an intriguing story.
Kendras, the leader of the Scorpions, a group of mercenary soldiers, must put himself between politics and love. Kendras was not defined so much physically (not many of the characters are), which I love because I can interpret the character without having to fit him into a mold as I picture the story unfolding in my mind. Kendras comes off as a true hero, a man’s man, if you will. Strong, loving, compassionate – and often covered in dirt and sweat.
The book is based primarily on Kendras’ perspective and experiences, making Graukar more of a secondary character. In my mind, I kept seeing him as more of a sage rather than a general. This might have been because I didn’t have his view and his thoughts of the events unfolding. He seemed at peace with all the obstacles placed before him, even losing his eyesight. There didn’t appear to be much anger or rage built up whereas most men would be hunting down their torturer. This made me unsure how to understand Graukar.
The writing is stellar and when I didn’t have to stop to figure out who Widow is or try to guess what tanesh means, I enjoyed my time in the past.