Yasmeen and Archimedes, mercenary and adventurer, are settling into married life and finding a new balance while hoping to protect Yasmeen’s essential, ruthless reputation.
An old friend of Archimedes approaches – he wants help to rescue his brother from Eden; the impenetrable flying city that enslaves any it comes across. It’s an impossible mission – but the man will use any means in his power to force Yasmeen and Archimedes to help him
Probably not the wisest thing the man has ever done
I love the romance in this book – and how often do I say that? I’m normally not a fan of books with heavy romance elements.
Yasmeen and Archimedes love for each other is clear on every page, I don’t think I’ve read many books that convinced me how completely in love the main characters are. Mainly, because it shows me why. Not by long monologues or eyes meeting over a crowded room or descriptions of how very hot the other is (though we have elements of all), but by them simply thinking and caring for each other. Of them taking the time to make the other happy, to care for their feelings, to understand each other, to comfort each other, to spend time thinking of ways to make the other smile. They trust each other and show that trust, they’re sure to realise where the other’s limits and worries are, they give each other both the space and the support each needs
They are in love and it shows because they behave like people who care about each other. They show it, they don’t just say it. It’s clear in every interaction and the time and energy they devote to each other. It’s a perfect romance.
The plot adds a great foundation for Zenobia in the future (and explains some of the elements of Kraken King I was unsure on, like why she’s such a kidnap victim) and I love how both Archimedes and Yasmeen react to the plot – they’re good people, but they’re not fools. Your brother is tragically held prisoner somewhere that enslaves people and is nearly impregnable? Well, good luck with that – buh-bye. Because it’s not just their lives at risk – they have a crew they’re responsible for and the crew matters, they’re people, not just random background figures to be sacrificed at a whim
The action is fun, the writing exciting and well paced – it all hits the right notes. And all of this in this world I love – with its different map and steampunk and well thought out political machinations and problems all displayed with lots of little hints and references – like the need to escort pilgrims to Mecca through Horde territory, or the New World colonies unwillingness to allow people with nano-agents into their lands. This all comes with a lot of deep character development – such as how both Longcock and Archimedes reacted differently when freed from the Horde’s mind controlling towers. There’s lots of talk of freedom and tyranny and the systems that are arising as the Horde empire loses its grasp of the edges
The book is also hilariously funny which is always a plus. Honestly, I could read a book full of nothing but Zenobia’s passive aggressive letters to her brother.
Yasmeen is an excellent strong female character – not only the most deadly woman there, but caring, loyal determined and firmly not in need of rescue – and she’s not alone; her crew has other women including her Quartermaster. Yasmeen is a POC as are some of her crew. We have Scarsdale have a cameo as a gay man, but he’s not there much and largely to say how he’s marrying a woman.
There’s also a continued passing examination of class – in a world where people are regularly modified for various jobs, we see how they’ve been turned into machines, tools, objects and, in some cases, it’s been so terribly and poorly done it’s left the most vulnerable with horrible disfigurement and painful cybernetic grafts – and when it goes wrong these people are just discarded.
It’s another excellent addition to this series and reminds me why I’m really happy I continued with it. The world is rich, the characters amazing and a range of issues are touched on to fit with the deep and broad world. All with a fun, fast writing style and a heavy dollop of humour.