Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wolves and Hawks and Bears--Oh My!

Rebel by Zoe Archer is the third Blades of the Rose book and, having read all three in a row I’ve noticed a definite formula. Woman and man travel to exotic location and embark on adventure to find magical object and protect it from Heirs of Albion (EVIL men who would exploit that magic). Very formulaic, but evidently it’s a successful formula because I’ve been enjoying the hell out of these books.

Plot Summery! Astrid once belonged to the Blades of the Rose, a secret(ish) society of men and women who protect magical objects. But after her husband's death at the hands of the enemy (the Heirs of Albion), Astrid runs away to a remote part of Canada to grieve and lose herself. After four years, she's dragged back into Blade business when Nathan Lesperance, a Native American lawyer, shows up at her door with Heirs on his heels. Nathan is undeniably attracted to Astrid. He is also desperate for purpose, and for answers about his own nature that have long been hidden from him.

My likes: The characters are fantastic. I was uncertain initially about Astrid, because she seemed very cold and consumed by self pity, but she warms up. And when she warms up, she absolutely glows--intelligent, competent, brave, and deeply loyal. I liked Nathan right from the start. Being a Native American raised by white men, and a lawyer to on top of it, his personality is full of pride and defiance. He won’t take no for an answer on anything, very much the rebel the title advertises. Astrid and Nathan make a well balanced match. Their relationship builds slowly as they work together and fight for their lives and their mission.

I liked the Native American elements. The magic objects for this book are totems which embody the powers of certain animals in a way that I thought was quite clever.

The real brilliance of these books is the adventure elements. Astrid and Nathan brave rapids, climb mountains,  fight zombies, and end up thoroughly bruised and exhausted. To me that makes the happily ever after much more fulfilling. I noted that this book had more paranormal elements then the previous two--one of our characters is a shape-shifter.

Dislikes: The formulaic nature of these books makes certain plot points very predictable. Also, I really wish there had been more time devoted to the non-romantic relationships. Astrid’s best friend Graves confronts her after she’s in self imposed exile for four years, and the issues between the two of them are resolved rather briefly and flippantly. But overall, none of this was enough to stop me from really liking this book. 4.5 stars.

I'm really looking forward to reading the forth book in the series, Stranger, because I've grown quite fond of the waistcoat collecting inventor Catalus Graves. Archer has spent considerable effort building up to it, so I'm hoping I won't be let down.

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