After the events of the last book, several people are reeling from their losses but each deal with it in different ways
Eir, goddess, Valkyrie and healer may find a way to mend her inured heart with a new love
But Taer, dark elf, can only be sated with revenge.
I have a lot of the same frustrations about this book as I had for the first book. Some of the core characters of this book are Valkyries and/or Norse goddesses and they are treated as the daintiest most delicate porcelain figures you could imagine. Korvain even refers to the Valkyries as “Bryn’s girls”.
I really dislike Eir’s storyline. She’s a Valkyrie, she’s a goddess and she is treated like a delicate fragile toy to be sheltered and protected – or an errant child because she is scolded and chided if she doesn’t do as she’s told for her own safety. She has to go everywhere with a man protecting her (even a human is deemed sufficient to keep the frail goddess and Valkyrie safe) and she has to check in at all times. Korvain in particular constantly orders her around, scolds her like a child – and decides who she can and cannot meet. She’s a thousand year old goddess – she can choose her own lovers! Except she never has, of course, because like all the “good women” in this book/series she has ensured her precious hymen remain unruptured through the centuries for REASONS.
Even her trauma after the last book is used more as a purpose to keep her vulnerable and, therefore, subject to control.
This also leads on to Korvain – who has pretty much assumed leadership and constantly dishes out orders to pretty much everyone. Brynn has faded entirely into the background after the first book and Korvain just feels like he has taken everything over. She was the protagonist, now it’s Korvain. She was the leader, now it’s Korvain. She used to protect her sisters and rule them – but Korvain has, effectively, completely taken over. But he isn’t their sibling, he isn’t the leader of the Valkyries – he’s just taken over with very little in the way of reason for that other than him being so big and strong and dangerous.
In some ways Taer‘s story is better because she actively pursuing something, she is actually doing something, she is seeking power and agency and revenge. But I’m still not a huge fan of it. Firstly, it’s all defined by Taer seeking permission and training from Korvain – another woman under his control. When he refuses her, she turns to another trainer so we can also have lots of sexy-time drooling
But her whole storyline just doesn’t impress me. Her training largely consists of her being beaten up repeatedly and then getting frustrated and angry… in the end her power and strength comes not from her skill or training or effort – but special woo-woo is just dropped on her (pretty much cancelling out the whole point of the training beyond having the sexy times and Korvain telling her she’s not ready). She gets a super powerful dream skill for Reasons, and she, along with all Mare’s develops
Can I just say now how very very tired I am with katana fetishism (and don’t tell me about the many time folded metal – it was many timed folded because it was pig iron) especially in a setting that has no Japanese characters or setting? Why is this Norse being mystically connected to a Japanese sword? Shall we have karate Thor next? Oh but this katana is a Norse Katana – because Odin taught the Japanese apparently – so we’re not only appropriating the weapon of a non-western culture but then invalidating their ownership of it.