A Guest Review by Larissa
Review Summary: A rather unexpected end to the trilogy that made me go “that’s it?”
Victory carries a price. Thane and Ander snatched the promise of immortality from a tyrant’s grasp, but now the zamindar will stop at nothing to regain what he lost. Even the sex magic practiced by Thane, his lover, and his mage initiates is no match for an empire’s legions.
Exiled and pursued, the freedom fighters’ quest for ancient secrets leads them to exotic lands and to Dannel, a young warrior whose fighting prowess is matched only by his frustration. Journeying far into the deepest, most forgotten heart of their lands, Thane, Ander, and their new companions will discover lost truths and a single stunning hope for the future… the hope that may save them all.
Where the previous two books in the trilogy were both thrilling and exiting, Sex Rites did not read at all like the epic conclusion it was supposed to be. Because of my lack of an internet connection, I haven’t been able to do much research, but this third installment in the Pledged to Magic series reads just like that, another installment. It has me wondering if there are going to be more books or if this is it. If so, I’m personally rather disappointed in the end.
But first, let’s go over this book.
Sex Rites follow Ander and Thane as they visit Thane’s former employer and mentor: Lord Tolmin in Chanture, trying to regain plants that have been lost in a collapse at the Lyceum. Unfortunately they have to flee as the Zamindar is on to them. Together with Erik and Skorri they book passage on a ship heading for the eastern lands. This is where the real story starts.
It’s in the eastern lands they meet Dannel, a member of the Aerehoth Guardians. The guardians are little more than slaves to an order of priests, indentured by their parents at a young age. They are forbidden to have sex and kept from doing so by a magical earring. Together with Dannel, the initiates try to discover the secret of a nearby temple that may hold the key to defeating the Zamindar.
While Dannel is a welcome and fresh addition to the group of mages, his story and the search to free him from the earring takes up most of this story. In fact most of the story is about Dannel and the discovery of the temple. It’s rather slow going. I kept waiting for the epic conclusion or at least a – magical – fight with the Zamindar, but there is none of that. No epic fight nor an epic sex magic battle!
It does not make the story bad, but it makes it so that Sex Rites reads more as another installment in the series than the conclusion to the trilogy and that takes away from the story as a whole. At the end of the story the characters have gained more allies, but the fight with the Zamindar is still on, even if there are hints of an uprising. The end leaves the story open to a lot of possibilities.
As said, the story itself was not bad at all. Dannel is a welcome addition and it’s both nice to read how he handles being around a bunch of randy sex mages and his own initiation. Dannel is a knowledgeable and skilful person who makes his own decisions, despite having been sold to the guardians as a slave at the age of ten. The guardians are relentlessly teased by people for their lack of sex and intimacy and it’s clear from the beginning that Dannel doesn’t just long for sex, but a lot more. He craves intimacy and touch. He’s a lot like Anders in that regard.
While it’s nice to see a new character, there is not much change in the other characters. Neither Thane nor Ander grows in this story and the reader doesn’t get to know Eric or Skorri better apart from them being a bunch of perpetually horny mages. A sex therapist would have a field day with those two! This was unfortunate as I’d hoped Thane would overcome some of his past issues and grow closer to Ander. While the lack of growth in the characters is unfortunate there are some sweet moments between Thane and Ander and of course whole bunch of magic making through sex!
The previous books all had a rather sudden end as did this one. It mattered less with the previous books, because the reader was aware there would be a next one. For Sex Rites it mattered more, because while there are hints that the battle with the Zamindar nears its end in favor of Thane and his band of mages – and the story with Dannel and their quest in the eastern lands nears its end – it’s all rather unresolved and thus the ending for Sex Rites is rather unfitting and leaves the story gaping open. Hopefully for more.
As you can maybe tell from this review, the end really bothered me and my guess is it will for other readers. Unless, of course, I missed something or they see something in the story I didn’t.
To conclude, despite the ending (hehe) Sex Rites is not a bad story at all. It has hot mages who participate in hot sex magic, a quest and a puzzle to solve. Also one hawt virgin who won’t be a virgin for very long. All the ingredients for a good, rather hot, fantasy story.