This book two in Ariana Nash's Silk and Steel series follows an already very dark book one, but it somehow manages to be even darker. And I'm all here for it.
Plot and Characters
In this second instalment of the series, Eroan is in a dark place: his village has been burned to the ground, he's lost family and friends, he can't settle his mind after the events of book one with the bitch queen, and he's just sent Lysander to his death. But Eroan underestimates Lysander's stubborn, beautiful ability to stay alive and inspire everyone around him, even when his species is their mortal enemy.
The events of this book blew my mind. I love how the dark stuff is actually dark, rather than romanticised dark. The budding relationship between Eroan and Lysander is amazing, but they're surrounded by really terrible people who rape, pillage, make war, and are generally a bunch of asshole. There are shown rape scenes in this book (though not as graphic as erotic scenes, if that makes sense), all of which are from the enemy, not from the lover. And Eroan really helps Lysander through.
Lysander is one of my favourite characters of all time. He's so resilient in the face of such atrocities. It's inspiring. He gives up, he's lost hope, and when he's all but given in the basic instincts of being a dragon, he still manages to see the light at the end of the tunnel. He's one of the bravest characters I've ever read.
Ohhh, things get good in this book. Eroan and Lysander admit their feelings, though they still don't acknowledge the idea of being able to be together. Their species are at war. So you know, I guess that's fair. *pouty face* But they acknowledge the attraction, the love, the gentle care we see both give. They won't admit it out loud, but you can just tell they both know. It's only a matter of time. Setting
You don't see any more of the world than you saw in book one, but just like in book one, it's phenomenally well done. A true expert hand at world building. It's not drowning in description because it's all shown via both characters visiting all these amazing places and telling stories with their kin and recalling events and pieces of history as they do. You get to experience the culture with them, rather than simply hear about it.
Brilliant writing. Zero complaints. Beautifully written work of art.