Title: Heir of Starlight (Sea of Stars, Book 2)
Author: Nicole Kimberling
Cover artist: Kanaxa
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Amazon Buy Link:Heir of Starlight (Sea of Stars)
Genre: gay alternate words
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius.
Summary: The second book in these series concentrated on romance a bit more than the first one, but also delivered a great fantasy adventure.
Trust is the only light that will guide them home.
Sea of Stars, Book 2
It’s been seven years since Karl Alton sublet his human body and let his soul be transferred to an orangutan. Now that the contract is up, Karl is ready to live a less hairy existence. Except his body has been stolen.
Devastated, Karl turns to his boss, Lord Adam Wexley, for legal advice. But instead of using his noble connections, Adam realizes they need to fight magic with better magic. And there’s only one man for the job: Adam’s ex-lover, Grand Magician Zachary Drake.
Once, Drake sacrificed his prized independence to save Adam’s soul. Now under the thumb of the West Court, he’s been forced to create a terrible weapon and bound to a vow of silence. Yet when Adam comes to him for help, no amount of bitterness over his lot will let him refuse.
Soon they discover that Karl’s missing body is only one thread connected to a plot to destroy the kingdom. And now the desperate race is on to find who—or what—has a finger on the trigger.
Nicole Kimberling is one of the few writers in this genre whose books I will still buy simply because the book has their name on the cover. I have read the first book in the series couple years ago (you can see the review by Jenre here) and while it ended without any cliffhangers, I definitely thought that that was the book that needed a sequel, especially in the romance department. I just thought that the first book was mostly a wonderful fantasy and romantic relationship just started and could have used more filling up.
The sequel delivered what I wished for in spades. I do think that this book cannot stand on its own, not really. I mean, I do not think that you will get terribly confused, because the characters constantly refer to the events of the first book, but I think that this book builds up on the events of the first book and delves into the characters in more depth.
I LOVED the world building in the first book. The book takes some very familiar fantasy concepts and develops them into something original and fun. I mean, so many books have the themes of separation of the soul from their body, right? I am sure any fantasy and paranormal reader also read the books where the soul under certain conditions may temporarily inherit another body. But Nicole Kimberling does with it something not quite as I have seen before – she takes that concept to the logical next step – souls and bodies, together and separate seem to be a commodity in this world. They are a commodity that could be highly praised, bought and sold. Soulless bodies could be rented, put to work, souls could be made to do your bidding. You could inhabit the body of the animal while you are renting your own body. You could give your soul into service of somebody else as a trade for certain favors. Then let’s add the magic to the mix, the Monarchy with several Courts scheming against each other and their king and you can imagine the world of this story.
And in these settings we again meet Tom, Karl, Adam Wexley and Zachary Drake. We left Adam and Drake together in the book one and in this one they are not. I was very happy that the reason for their separation made perfect sense to me. It was not – oh let’s break up a couple who resolved all their issues in the first book thing, which happened in too many sequels. No, the separation made sense to me for both plot related and character based reasons. In fact their romance is given much more attention in this story than in the first one – simply because it just begun in book one and also I would guess that the writer wanted to spend more time on the world building part of the book and the plot which was just as exciting as in this one.
Do not get me wrong – a lot of things happen in this book and I loved every second of it. The book never drags on, but it is also not a non – stop action all the time, we also have the moments of the interactions between the characters, the moments of characters learning things about themselves and each other and growing from them. In fact I have not read a book for some time which delivered the great mix of character driven AND plot driven story with such gusto.
The plot is full of intrigue, magic and nobles coming up with ways and ideas of how to do deadly things to each other. Our four main guys (one temporarily in the body of the Ape) need to navigate themselves through the sea of intrigue, try to stay alive, and keep the ones they loved alive too.
Another thing I loved about the main characters is that they are smart. Never once I thought that they made choices based on the lack of intelligence. They could have worried about the loved ones and make a wrong choice, they may not have had all the information at their disposal, but I never once thought that any of the four guys was stupid. I really appreciated that. In fact throughout the story they figured out the things they were supposed to figure out and I believe more than once. I was very pleased with that. The unforeseen complications may have appeared to keep them on their toes, but never once was I tempted to place the TSTL label on them.
I also was very appreciative of the fact that *villains* were smart too. Of course good guys won, but it was not because the villains were idiots, quite the contrary. For me this made their victory sweeter.