“The Emperor cares for each and every one of his subjects.”
Betrayed by his sister and sold into slavery to die in the dreaded Windmines of Bora Bora, Ivan has nothing but sarcasm and spite for the Lotus Knights’ well-worn catchphrase. No one ever cared for him - not when he was a young noble, not as a tortured Quetzal pet, and definitely not as a runaway slave gang leader in the slums of Yaiciz.
But all that changes when one of his fellow inmates turns out to be a genuine Lotus Knight, offering help and a way out of this misery. Suddenly, even Ivan can’t help but feel like there might be something good in his life to look forward to.
The Windmines of Bora Bora is a dark, snarky adventure and the the second book of ‘Sir Yaden’, an epic SF saga of grand adventure, bromance and patchwork family, set in the multi-faceted Virasana Empire.
- 1 To Be Read list
Heat Level: 1
Romantic Content: 1
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Pansexual
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 3 Age: 18-25
Word Count: 74000
Setting: Virasana Empire: Bora Bora
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Ivan jerked to a stop when the chain that connected him to the other slaves walking behind him suddenly went taunt. In turn the slaves in front of him stumbled to a halt as well.
A glance back showed him that a slave had fallen to his knees, clutching his shoulder, with a BoBoMEC standing over him, brandishing his stun baton.
"You fucking piece of shit, I've had it with you! Get the fuck up or I will beat the shit out of you!" the guard yelled.
Not the most creative bit of swearing, but BoBoMEC guards weren't picked for their conversational skills. He wore the dull red uniform of all employees of the Bora Bora Mining and Engineering Corporation, easily distinguishing them from the slaves, who wore whatever rags they had had when they had been purchased for shipment to Yaiciz's only moon.READ MORE
'A one-way ticket to hell', as it was known among Yaiciz's slave population. No one came back from the windmines. Of all the places Ivan had planned never to end up, Bora Bora was third on the list, right behind being returned to the tender care of his sister Anya, and going back to being a pet of some other batshit crazy Quetzal relative of his.
He used the continued hold up behind him to scan the vast expanse of the landing field for some chance of escape. Not that he expected one to materialise. That would have been a miracle, worthy of an investigation from that stupid Church TV show. There was plenty of heavy machinery and vehicles hauling cargo all over the place with a fitting assortment of workers in all sorts of corporation duds. But it was all well organised chaos, with plenty of light from huge floodlights illuminating the dim Yaiciz afternoon. A flock of Mikkti, the ever-present flying vermin of Yaiciz, perched on a stack of containers nearby, hungrily eyeing the slaves and screeching at each other. The BoBoMECs watching over them were bored, but vigilant. Even if Ivan hadn't been chained to the dead weight of more than fifty other slaves, he would have bet against himself when it came to escaping.
So apparently, he would have to be the first slave to make it off Bora Bora alive. Ivan gritted his teeth in angry determination. Fuck Anya. He wouldn't let her win.
"Fuck! FUCK!" The BoBoMEC behind him was still beating the cowering slave.
God knew what kind of personal frustration he was trying to get out of his system, but his colleagues finally seemed to realise that they wouldn't get anywhere if that one slave got beaten to death. Plus they would lose their bonus for delivering all of them alive. Two of them intervened by pulling their pal off the slave and the slave back to his feet. Some well applied prods from the stun batons got the line moving again, shuffling towards the open maw of the cargo shuttle.
Ivan noticed how each of the slaves hesitated for a just a moment before stepping inside. All of them were aware of what fate awaited them on Bora Bora – back-breaking work until they were used up and died. None of them balked, though. None of them broke down crying or begged for mercy. They had all been slaves long enough to either have their spirits crushed entirely or know that there was no mercy to be found for the likes of them. Being sent to the windmines meant that you were good for nothing else any more. Or maybe some of them had managed to get a dose of Soma, the ubiquitous drug that was handed out more or less for free here on Yaiciz, and had dulled their sense of self to the point that they were nothing but meat robots, at least until the drug wore off again.
Once again, heartfelt hatred for his sister welled up in him. Her and the cold-hearted system that she and her ilk perpetuated.
Yes, he was a runaway slave who had successfully evaded capture for the better part of a year. But he was still good-looking under all the grime and slave tattoos and, at not even twenty years of age, he should have been worth enough to spare him this trip to the mines. He snarled soundlessly. He knew he had Anya to thank for this. Like every time one of his gang got arrested, the other members had tried to bribe the security officers who'd picked him up. But for the first time, their generous offer had been denied, along with the information that Countess Anya Quetzal herself had ordered Ivan deported to Bora Bora. At least his boys had been allowed a last visit to explain that it wasn't their fault.
Keeping his head down, Ivan stepped inside the shuttle. The interior was dim, only a little light filtering in through the open hatch, but it wasn't hard to find his way, He just followed the pull of the chains on his wrists until he all but stumbled over the slaves in front of him, already sitting down on the bare, metal floor. There was just enough room to fit the slaves in without crushing anyone. Certainly not enough space to maintain anything like personal space, unwashed bodies pressed against each other. The air inside seemed even worse than the incessant smog of Yaiciz outside.
Once everyone was loaded up, the shuttle hatch closed with the audible whine of machinery that only received minimum maintenance, plunging the human cargo into near complete darkness. Moments later, the shuttle's engine grumbled to life.
Ivan had been on enough such transports to know to brace himself for the lift-off. He pulled his knees up and wrapped his arms around them, putting his head down on top. Others around him were apparently less experienced – cries of surprise and pain rose as bodies jostled against each other. Ivan tried his best to ignore his travel companions, but it was hard when one toppled against him, painfully poking him in the side with an emaciated, sharp elbow.
With a low curse, Ivan pushed away from the other slave. He was lucky enough to be near one of the corrugated steel walls. With that at his back, he felt a little safer, if not more comfortable. Then again, nobody expected a cheap freighter bringing freshly acquired slaves to the windmines to be comfortable.
The only light in the cargo bay came from a tiny emergency bulb above the cargo hatch. In the dull red glow, Ivan could make out huddled shapes, a pile of lost lives if there ever had been one.
The air grew staler and damper with every minute, full of the stench of unwashed men and human excrement. Probably, the crew had switched off the life-support for the cargo bay, Ivan mused. The trip to Bora Bora would take less than an hour, no point in wasting fresh air on slaves. Anything that cut into profit was to be avoided. That tenet of the creed from the Duke of Yaiciz had filtered down to everyone living on the planet. Especially the corporations and guilds who paid high taxes in exchange for the right to operate on a planet with virtually no restrictions on how they ran their businesses.
All of a sudden, searingly bright light filled the cargo bay, inciting howls of outrage and pain from the slaves. Blinking through tearing eyes, Ivan realised that the cargo bay had long, narrow windows after all, and that they had just entered the day side of Yaiciz's moon, the unfiltered sunlight blinding after the long darkness.
Slowly, his eyes got used to the light, and the shapeless creatures sharing his prison turned into people. Men of all ages, all of them ragged and dirty, hunched over with the dead look in their eyes of those who had abandoned all hope. Many were injured, cuts and bruises only cared for in the cheapest way possible, so they wouldn’t bleed on the floor or die in transit.
Grimacing at the sight, Ivan wished for the darkness to return.
But the sunlight kept streaming into the freighter, casting long, slanted rays through the windows. Searching for anything to look at that did not fill him with anger, Ivan found himself staring at an especially dirty man a few slaves up the chain in disgusted fascination. Wearing nothing but a soiled, mud-crusted tunic and pants frazzling at the knees, his hair and beard an indistinguishable thicket of filthy hair, the guy looked less like a slave and more like some homeless, drunkard and beggar. The guy even smelled bad enough to stand out in a cell full of unwashed slaves.
Only when he cracked Ivan a smile of bright yellow teeth, did Ivan manage to look away. He couldn’t say for sure, but he had the vague suspicion that the weird guy had also winked at him seductively. That, really, was a new low even for Ivan’s pretty miserable standards.COLLAPSE
Samantha Ortega on Goodreads wrote:
“And that was one of Ivan’s shortcomings. A conscience.”
I should complain, because the only gay romance in this substantial sequel to “The Demon of Hagermarsh” is a little bit at the end that’s the same romance that burgeoned in the first book. We never quite learn where Ivan Quetzal’s romantic interests lie.
As I said, I should complain, but I can’t quite bring myself to, because “The Windmines of Bora-Bora” is such great fun, and the character of Ivan is so interesting, and our second adventure with Sir Yaden is so action-packed and surprisingly funny…well, there you are.
While the Brackhauses have followed the same general format as in the first book – the main narrative alternating with flashbacks to Ivan’s past – the content is entirely different. “Demon” had touching memories of Darios’s meeting the young Yaden. This story’s flashbacks are from the perspective of Ivan’s older sister Anya, and they quickly become chillingly creepy, exposing as they do the twisted and sadistic logic of the Quetzal nobles.
Rather than a quiet backwater on a dull gray planet, we find ourselves on a space shuttle delivering slaves to Bora-Bora, the dusty orange moon of the polluted Yaiciz, the most heavily industrialized world in the empire. Not coincidentally, Yaiciz is ruled by Ivan’s family.
From the start, in the miserable and hopeless slave pens of Bora-Bora, we are thrown into Ivan’s despair; but we also see his intelligence and his boundless courage. We are not the only ones to notice this, and Ivan is quickly taken up by a strangely cheerful, dirt-encrusted slave referred to only as Smelly. We, of course, know who he is, but the narrative takes its own sweet time to reveal the truth to Ivan, who (understandably) has a hard time believing it. Taking up tw0 thirds of the book, the adventure on Bora-Bora is exciting, fast-paced, and pretty gruesome.
Once more, Mr. and Mrs. Brackhaus present us with a world that is bizarrely diverse, mingling imagery evocative of Tolkein’s Middle Earth with such earth-bound mundanities as microwave ovens and celebrity fan magazines. The very strangeness of this multifarious world kept me smiling, even when the battle was at fever-pitch. The richly detailed portrayal of both Ivan and Smelly give us the same kind of satisfaction that Darios and Yaden did in the first installment.
By the end, with Anya Quetzal’s ultra-creepy final memory, we begin to be able to guess at the long arc that this series will take. Both Yaden and Ivan are Quetzal noblemen, and yet these two young men are as different from most of their kindred as night and day. We truly understand that the Virasana Emperor does indeed care about each and every one of his subjects, and that the Lotus Knights have a lot of work to do to bring the Empire into line.
What fun it’s going to be.
I do, however, want actual gay romance in the next book. My patience is not boundless.
So well well well… well I really liked the first volume of this series and I was really looking forward to reading this volume 2. And I was not disappointed. Once again I devoured this novel just started.
And again, I was surprised by the direction the authors take. I will not tell you much more not to spoil you but it’s really surprising and I was devoring the chapters to find out where the authors wanted to bring us.
As in the first volume, we alternate between chapters from the point of view of the main character (here, Ivan in 2/3 of the novel then Yaden) and the memories of Anya, Ivan’s sister.
If in the first volume, Dario’s memories brought a lot of tenderness to the story, Anya’s memories are much harder to read. I really liked the differences between these two novels, where they went almost from one extreme to the other.
I also loved to find again the universe presented in the first volume and this time the authors linger a little less. The new moon, Bora-Bora (which has nothing to do with its namesake in Polynesia) is very well described and I loved what the authors offer us.
The character of Ivan is very interesting and I can not wait to see what they will do with him in the next volumes. I found Yaden with great pleasure and I was really looking forward to seeing Colin and Dario again and I loved the final part of the novel that’s happening on Agami.
I really liked the light but present humor, the self-deprecating character of Yaden (who remains my favorite character) and the rhythm of the novel. I liked that the action climbs crescendo and the apotheosis of the battle in the bowels of Bora Bora.
In summary, a very good second volume, in line with the first while also moving away. Characters always on top, action, romance and especially a novel that gives a lot to read more.
The 'Virasana Empire' is a diverse space opera setting, charting the fate of the human race several millenia into the future. It is offers a wild patchwork of different cultures, beliefs and values, colourful and contrasting. We love reading and telling culture clash stories, as those always deepen our understanding of our own culture and our perceptions of what is 'normal'.
Maybe the more important way in which the 'Virasana Empire' is uniquely different is the positive outlook. The setting is pretty grim in many places, but it is never hopeless. If anything, it's on an overall upswing, and things, as bad as they might be, are improving, little by little.