In war, loss is the price of victory, and the cost of love is sometimes pain.
After Renaldo and Casto finally celebrate their marriage, the time has come for revenge against the followers of the Good Mother who tried to kill Casto—though this time, the Gods of War won’t use bloodshed to take Medelina.
As a member of the Confederation of the Plains, Medelina answers to Ummana, the head of the alliance… and Casto is heir to the throne of Ummana. Accompanied by their most capable mercenaries, Canubis and Renaldo travel to Ummana to make Casto king.
They’ll face the Council of Elders, Lord Aran, Casto’s father, and Princess Anesha, Casto’s sister—none of whom are happy about the king’s return. For Casto, the city is a reminder of a terrible childhood, and Renaldo can only helplessly watch his beloved fight a seemingly hopeless battle.
Through trickery and political scheming, vengeance against the Good Mother is finally within their grasp—but their success might be bittersweet. Not everyone will return to the Valley with Casto and Renaldo.
- 1 To Be Read list
- 1 Read list
Publisher: DSP Publications
Pairings: M-F, M-M, M-M-M
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 3
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: Ageless/Immortal
Tropes: Alpha Character, Class Differences, Enemies to Lovers, Fated Mates / Soul Mates, Hero and the Great Quest, Menage
Word Count: 102000
Languages Available: English, German
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
“I’m still furious.” Canubis crashed his fist down on the wooden table around which the Emeris were gathered. “It just can’t be that a bunch of heathens march into the Valley like it’s an open market and come this close”—he held up his thumb and forefinger, indicating a hair’s breadth—“to destroying us all. This was planned thoroughly and executed almost perfectly. We were lucky this time, but I won’t rely on luck alone to keep us safe. It’s high time to remind the followers of the Good Mother that their false goddess has no place on Ana-Darasa. They dared to reach for my brother’s heart with their filthy hands!”READ MORE
As if on cue, all gazes turned to Casto, who sat at the table next to his mate. He was slowly getting used to being treated like an especially valuable possession, which, according to the prophecies, he somehow was. Now that Ana-Isara had officially recognized him as Renaldo’s heart, the divine brothers were only waiting for the arrival of the last Emeris before they would conquer this world for good.
Casto’s place in the hierarchy had changed considerably, and he was still busy assessing and analyzing the resulting consequences.
His relationship with Canubis and Renaldo was indisputable. He owed them obedience, period. Even though he resented it, his scope regarding those two was narrow, and he was in no hurry to test its limits. Hulda, Noemi, and Cornelia were out of the equation. They were very intelligent, immensely powerful ladies he would always treat with the greatest of respect, since he was neither a barbarian nor stupid. Aegid and Kalad were almost like friends, even though he still felt unsettled by Aegid’s intense personality. Wolfstan and Bantu were level, reserved characters, but you did not become a member of this elite circle without a will of steel and special talents.
In Ummana, Casto had learned that it always paid not to neglect the silent ones. If you did, you could very well die. Noran, on the other hand, was his enemy. He was torturing Casto’s best friend, did it on purpose to hurt Casto as well, and he would be damned if he did not make the master smith pay for his sins one day.
“Therefore, Renaldo and I have decided to attack and destroy Medelina.”
Canubis’s voice pried Casto from his musings.
“It’s one of the cells where the Good Mother is strongest, and according to the traitors we tortured, Assani and Damon were schooled there. I want that city down in the dust.”
The amber eyes lit up dangerously; there was no doubt about Canubis’s determination and anger. It was a terrifying display of his dominance. Kalad was the first who dared to voice some doubt.
“I do understand your fury, Canubis, and please believe me when I tell you that I share it wholeheartedly, but Medelina is incredibly fortified. The city is one of the few that still have something akin to a standing army, so they’re not defenseless. Even with forces like ours, it’s questionable whether the city will fall.”
“I agree with my brother.” Aegid’s voice was level, as always, but it carried weight because of that. “Attacking Medelina is madness. It will cost us many fighters, and we can’t be sure about the outcome.”
As usual in such situations, Renaldo’s face was frozen into an impenetrable mask. His brother, on the other hand, showed his agitation openly.
“We can’t let them get away with this. We have to set an example.”
Now Bantu spoke as well. “I do understand, Canubis, but the question is….”
Casto studied the map pinned to the wall behind the Wolf of War. There was a truly simple solution to this problem, even though he had hoped to have left this part of his life behind for good. Just thinking about it made his head ache, but he was a member of the Pack, mate to a god. He owed it to all of them to neglect his own well-being for the greater good, especially when the alternative meant losing so many skilled warriors. It’s also your chance to get your revenge! the voice in the back of his head whispered persistently. It was too good an opportunity to pass on.
He cleared his throat.
“I agree with Aegid and Kalad. Attacking Medelina would be a calculated waste of lives. Besides, it doesn’t make sense to go against a city you can easily control with other means.”
Canubis glared at him. He had anticipated that his plans would not meet with immediate approval, but he did not like how his brother’s mate not only opposed him, but also spoke in riddles.
“Explain yourself, Casto. I don’t have time for one of your games.”
For a moment anger bloomed in the noble features of the prince, but after a sidelong glance at Renaldo, who looked at his mate with a clear warning written all over his face, Casto held back. Nevertheless, he could not keep himself from speaking with exaggerated patience, as if his audience were a slightly slow child.
“All I’m saying is that Medelina is a member of the Confederation of the Plains. The mistress of this alliance is Ummana. The Twin Cities are superior to all other members.”
Canubis, like the other Emeris, did not see where Casto was going. Even Renaldo seemed confused. Casto sighed.
“The key is Ummana. And it so happens that I know from reliable sources that the rightful king of Ummana was married to a barbarian god from the North only a week ago. According to the laws in the Valley, Ummana is yours and your brother’s.”
Silence. They all stared at Casto as if seeing him for the first time. The young man rolled his eyes.
“What do you think ‘Your Highness’ means? It’s not an empty phrase. I’m the firstborn. This summer I turn twenty-two, which means I’m of age and can claim the throne for myself. It could be that the Council won’t accept my marriage because Renaldo is male and thus the continuation of
the line is in danger, but they can’t deny my claim to the throne. You’re going to rule through me.”
Kalad started laughing.
“That’s brilliant! Crazy, but brilliant.”
As if these words had lifted a ban, they all started talking at once, all enthusiastic about the idea. Only Canubis watched Casto with a questioning look in his eyes. Renaldo silenced the Emeris with a gesture. Canubis took over again.
Book 3 in this series is very different from the previous two. Yet it is also very similar. What I mean by that is that the world and the characters and motivations are still present and so very like before. The relationships are still as tense and sexual as ever. But the structure and the plot was not nearly the same.
In book 3, the story felt very episodic, more like a tv series rather than the epic tale I have compared it to in the past(which by the way I would totally support this being made into a tv series). The story felt as if it were comprised of a bunch of smaller scenes, each giving a bit of history or explaining politics, or setting up the future. This book is that middle section that is very very slow to progress but is necessary to really bring together a lot of the missing elements from the previous 2 books and to set the reader up well for the next story which promises to be much more action packed.
I have to admit I struggled more that I would have liked getting through this story. The structure and the bouncing around often made things confusing and after a while, I was a bit annoyed with always feeling like I was two steps behind everyone and every action. The politics were at the forefront and made for a game I didn’t know the rules to and personally struggled to grasp, even after they were explained, well kind of explained. I got so tired of all the bowing and scraping and trying to get people to see your view without giving their view any consideration.
However, I am still so enamored of this series because the world is just so fantastic and the characters are in my blood, especially Casto and Sic. Can I just tell you that I cried big ugly tears more than once on behalf of these men and if I could, I would take Sic home with me and never let anyone or anything cause him pain ever again! These two men could easily become my world and I was ECSTATIC when Noran got his what for and is in pain. I know I sound vengeful but I hope is heart withers and rots for everything he ever did to Sic. I am a bit worried about the path the story seems to be taking with the Sic and Noran storyline, but I am reserving judgement until book 4 is out. I personally hope Sic rules the world and tortures everyone who ever let him down!
I loved that Ummana was such a different place from the valley. The new cast of characters was a breath of fresh air and a break from the harsh reality that is the Valley. I loved that there was more than just lust and sex and power games. It was a much welcomed changed and only served to highlight the differences in this huge world the author has created.
And I want to finish this by giving mad props to the author. This is a HUGE series with TONS of intricacies and details and so much imagination and heart. That each story is consistent while also bringing things to the next level shows a wealth of talent and imagination and I am in love and so eager for the next book. Kudos to Ms. Melzer for this FABULOUS series.