Zenobia and Ariq continue to campaign for the Empress to withdraw her fleet from Krakentown – but as the delay stretched, Ariq worries what could be happening to Krakentown in the meantime – especially since there’s an ominous silence from his home.
There is little hope when they finally get to speak to anyone in power – because the plot reveals the existence of the Skybreaker, the devastating war machine the conspirators wish to force Ariq to give up; the Empress is not going to allow it to be in threatening hands
Or any hands but her’s.
The Kraken King has now done what I never thought it would do – it has taken an established romance and run over it with that so pervasive romance trope – the convoluted misunderstanding. Zenobia and Ariq both fundamentally misunderstand what the other has said and what the other meant and it shakes a lot of what they thought about the relationship – leaving them both hurt and unhappy.
Perhaps more surprisingly, it actually did this most tiresome of tropes is done in a way that doesn’t make me hate it (even if I don’t love it) since it’s moderately reasonable (though, like every time this trope arises, a simple conversation could address a great deal – but unlike most of the times this trope arises, not all) and the rift doesn’t come from making massive negative assumptions of the other but from reasonable mistakes and personality crashes
Zenobia has trust issues – and reasonably so given her background and history. She also is an extremely practical woman who ensures she is secure and has contingency plans. Ariq has, throughout these books, worked to “breach Zenobia’s defences” and get through her habitual mistrust – and he thought he had, he thought that certain actions she took and certain risks she took (spoiler dodging!) ensured she finally trusted him. And she did, kind of – but she also took precautions and had a Plan B and, basically, still had a “how to escape from Ariq” plan ready. Ariq is not just hurt by this but hurt because it never occurred to him to make a “if Zenobia leaves me” reservation plan.
Then this is compounded by Zenobia’s abandonment issues – again, stemming from her past and the frequency of her being kidnapped/threatened in order to coerce others (her brother or Ariq). Frankly, people have very logical, sensible reasons to abandon Zenobia to her kidnappers rather than give in to their demands/risk a rescue. And she’s a practical woman, she knows this – but still fears it – which all runs aground on Ariq deciding to tell Zenobia what he thinks she wants to hear rather than what he feels; taking her trust issues to mean she wants space he offers to let her go where the abandonment flares