Author: A.R.K Horton
Eya is done running from her enemy. Now, the very people who took her home and threatened her life should be scared of the exiled princess with new-found powers.
Reunited with her brothers and bonding with new friends, Eya fights against the Pescelean invasion of Hicares with the might of the might of Kandum’s army behind her. Success in battle comes easy, but something doesn’t sit right with her. She’s not sure she’s fighting on the right side. Is she truly fated to destroy an entire nation, or is there a way out of this prophecy? Eya learns that sometimes your enemies are the people you allow closer than anyone else.
Rating: Intriguing, Immersive (Isn’t it awesome not using stars?!), Thoughtful
The Short Review (For Everyone to Start With – Unless Someone Likes to Read Reviews from the Back – and for Those Who Would Rather Not Learn Everything that Happens before They Read the Book):
As soon as I opened the pages, I was drawn right into Flirting with the Tempest. The story was interesting and very focused on the characters, and I could feel them, even when they were confusing and who-knew-why they were acting like the idiots they were. There was plenty of depth spent on who they were and why that caused them to do – or not do – the things they did or did not do. They all had a lot of personality, and once again, I enjoyed how wonderfully and smoothly the perspectives of all the characters are shown when they are involved. It was not as if a chapter or a scene was just from Eya’s perspective or just from Daijah’s perspective. There was usually a dominant perspective, but it switched very smoothly whenever necessary – whenever there was something to learn or feel from another perspective.
Another thing I really liked about the story was how it deals with the questions of life, the questions and journey of life, of growing up, of knowing and discovering who you are, of relationships. It isn’t preachy; it might not even be that deep. But it’s about those things. About experience. About dealing with the things that happen, what one can learn from them and from oneself, and choices.
Cefa, her thoughts, and her interactions with Eya and Daijah were fascinating. However, here I get into the region where I don’t know how to avoid spoilers and, perhaps more importantly, I don’t know how to know when something I’m sharing is a spoiler and when it isn’t? I really loved all the characters. Terald, and his reactions to the loss of Brence. Immelda’s thoughts and feelings. The relationship between her and Tevin, how close they are without anything sexual between them. Not only do some people have no desire for sex, but even people who do desire sex can have thriving relationships – and want to have thriving relationships – that don’t involve sex! I really enjoyed seeing that done. Esamne and Novem and the development of their relationship. How Pekor develops. And there is so much to say about Eya, and Daijah. The trust, the betrayal, the desire, the longing, Eya’s fears, her triumphs, her hopes, her fears about becoming a monster, while she’s being used (and using herself) as a weapon of war. The mistakes people (not just them) make. All of it.
Eya really spends a lot of the story being used by the Kandumes, along with her brothers, people who don’t respect her and don’t care about her. And sometimes it is very complicated.
Here’s a snippet from rather early in the book between Eya and Cefa that I really liked a lot. It really set a tone which never disappointed.
“This wasn’t me,” Eya said, opening her eyes to look at the old woman. “The last time I brought a warm wind. This is a sunny Spring morning.”
“Almost as if the day woke up in a happy mood?” Cefa asked with a raising eyebrow.
“Not everything is magic.” Eya chuckled.
“I beg to differ, and I created magic.” Cefa harrumphed.
Something I liked about this book was how much there was, to think about. I’ll show a few of the snippets that were like that in the next portion, though I won’t run on and on with my thoughts about the things brought up and the way they’re presented. Each one could turn into a whole essay of its own! And there’s more than I will mention.
And one more thing to mention that I loved! Last (in the first review) but never least! I really enjoyed Nakta’s daughters and Shoya’s daughters. I really liked the mountain that is a person and speaks and acts, and the trees. The dragons that live in the volcanoes were so awesome, too, and with their commitment to justice, not rage. But I really liked the mountain and the trees! I just really enjoyed seeing Nature populated with people in such a way! It felt so natural.
And least perhaps … something that might be noted, that did not really bother me, but I could see it being jarring … there are times (specifically with Immelda in the Court) where she tries to approach someone in one way, realizes that’s not the right way, and then shifts to approaching and interacting with that person in a different way. That was not jarring. But what could be jarring is that the person she interacted with was almost always immediately responsive to her shift in approach, as if she had not tried to interact in the other way first, and I did not think that fit the implied intelligence and character of the person she was talking to. Again, not a big deal, it did not dampen my enjoyment of the story, but I could see it being a problem for some people.
Oh, and something else I really don’t think is a spoiler before we dive into the part of the review full of them. Here are two related snippets that are very poignant.
Eya sat there, stunned. She remembered the Captain of the ship she took to escape Hicares talking about songs describing her, but she hadn’t believed him. She also never imagined that people sang about her as some sort of motivational hymn, encouraging young men to march towards their slaughter. …
After she grew silent for a moment, Eya lifted her head and breathed a deep sigh.
“How long have you know about that song?” she asked. “How in Pecu’s name did it make it all the way to Kandum? You weren’t even involved in that war.”
“Well …” Daijah said, scratching the back of his head. “It made the rounds with sailors and travelers, mostly from Hicarean soldiers fleeing the battle.”
“That makes sense,” she replied. “I hate that I’m the reason anyone had to die.”
“You didn’t even know about that song,” Daijah consoled. “You’re just another pawn in all of this, like the rest of us.”
“Do you feel like a pawn, Daijah?” Eya asked, shifting to look at him.
The “Lack-of-Spoilers-Not-Guaranteed” Review (though I doubt everything here would be considered a spoiler by most people; I just don’t know, not knowing what is a spoiler myself!):
Another thing to note (and this is more of a spoiler for Struggling with the Current (#1) than for Flirting with the Tempest, was Eya’s scars from Brilsen Rabrith.
“What happened to your face?” the Duke said, once he saw her in a better light, and the two lines of scars on her left cheek were noticeable. “What a shame. You were such a pretty girl.”
Eya felt her chest cave inwards from the impact of his slight.
Daijah could see the sting in her face and shook his head at her. He hoped she would understand that this wasn’t how he felt about her appearance.
And here’s something else I liked. Of course, one would expect a woman as old as Cefa to have a wisdom that a lot of people miss, but not necessarily.
For all she [Eya] knew, Daijah had fallen on the sword of a Pescelean soldier. When she said as much to Cefa, the old woman wanted to tell her that Daijah would be fine, but she knew full well that no man, no matter how capable, was truly safe in battle.
Speaking of which, I liked the relationship that develops between Cefa and Eya, how Cefa felt about Eya as a daughter or something like that, all of that.
Something else, also neat, was how the horror and effect of battle and killing people and people dying was handled and presented, and how dehumanizing that can be (even though people are always human). Here’s a little interaction between Eya and Daijah that really emphasizes the relationship between them as well as showing that:
“Sometimes,” he whispered to Eya, “I lose myself in battle. The death is just too much. So, I sort of leave myself and become just a weapon.”
Eya nodded a little at that, remembering how frightening he and her brothers looked in battle. He didn’t look like the same man sitting in front of her now. He wiped her tears away with her blanket and sighed.
“At times like that, it can become difficult to come back to yourself,” he said, trying to see if his message made its way through the fog of her grief. “You might do things you regret, but that doesn’t make you a bad person. You do what you do to survive, to protect others. People get hurt and die during battles. You are not a murderer. You have power, but you are not that woman of prophecy. You only did what you did out of love.”
“I-I …” she stuttered. “I thought I would lose you all, and then I was just … the storm … not me anymore.”
“I know,” he said, empathizing with her, wishing she did not have to know this part of his life so personally. “Let’s get you to your tent.”
And here is one of the things that I really, really liked seeing!
“I love you, Cefa,” Eya said, squeezing the healer’s shoulders.
“I love you too, dear girl,” Cefa responded, wiping the tears only to sit up and look Eya in the face. “Don’t do anything for me or Kandum or even Hicares. Do it for yourself. Put your happiness first. You must promise me.”
“Cefa, I …” Eya started, thinking of all the people she thought of as her responsibility.
“I mean it!” Cefa interrupted, forcing Eya to look at the sharp and serious expression on her face. “You want me to feel better? You will make this promise and keep it. You need to take care of yourself first. If something feels wrong, it is wrong. If it puts you in danger, look for another way.”
I think I will end now. This is probably long enough! But I will add that I really liked the interactions between Eya’s brothers, their different personalities, Simrin, the joke-making peacemaker, and all the others. And I don’t like the idea of soul destruction. But maybe that’s semantics, what I mean by soul and what it means in the story not being the same. I don’t know.
Anyway, look back to that last quote! I want to end the review on that note.