Nikki and Liberi face some of the biggest threats to their existence – a furious and vengeful Olympians and a genocidal campaign of actual gods. Which is a big step up from the descendants
And Anderson, their own god on side, is absent, leaving everyone with unanswered questions and a sense of betrayal.
In this book Nikki really steps up as a leader of the Liberi – and it’s really excellently done. She doesn’t demand, she doesn’t start dishing out orders. But she steps up. Anderson is missing and also heavily discredited; everyone is confused, betrayed and sad and kind of lost. Someone needs to step up, someone needs to take over. Someone needs to stop the Olympians from crushing them now their protector who has gone missing. Someone needs to have difficult meetings with Cyrus, head to the Olympians. Someone needs decide what to do about Niobe and her potential world ending campaign. Someone needs to try and find a solution that is both morally acceptable and will save humanity and get some sense of justice. And that someone was repeatedly Nikki. It was excellent to see her becoming leader because she truly earned it. She’s a leader because she showed leadership, she’s a leader because she led when everyone else was hiding and backing down and panicking – she rallied them, made them put aside their differences and kept many disputing factions together to address the actual problem.
I can’t stress enough how pretty awesome she was in this – this book was not about her special powers or her relationships or the world setting – this was about Nikki taking an absolute dog’s dinner not of her making, being surrounded by terrible options and finding a path through them for everyone to follow. She was good and unlike so many leaders in the genre, I am 100% behind Nikki
The whole plot excellently showcases this with great pacing and well conveyed confusion and uncertainty without the plot being either
I do like her relationships as well. Her relationship with Anderson is excellent – she is both in awe, and angry, she is respectful but disappointed, she both demands him being more human while recognising how alien he is. There’s a lot of layers to that
Her relationship with Jamaal is excellent. Jamaal has grown a lot since his early rage cursed existence. He’s not only moved away from that trope but he’s revealed to be a very emotionally complex character dealing with both the powerful effects of the death magic inside him as well as his own traumatic past an abused man and an ex-slave. And the way he works through that with Nikki is excellent – moving at his pace, exploring his triggers carefully, being kind and respectful and gentle. There’s no judgement, no impatience, no rushing and perfect respect of the limits he raises when he needs them and a willingness