I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This alternative history, apocalyptic, science fiction that was published by Penguin on May 1, 2007 and has 336 pages.
Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.
Other books by this author include Raven Cursed, An Apple for the Creature, Death's Rival, Blood Trade, Kicking It, Blood in Her Veins, Mercy Blade, Shadow Rites, Bloodring
Second in the Rogue Mage apocalyptic, alternative history, science fiction series and revolving around Thorn St. Croix, a battle mage in hiding in Mineral City, Carolina.
“…no display of my scars to remind them of the battle I had fought … kept them safe … nothing like demonstrating that people were beholden to you to make them hate you.”
I know…it’s a busy story, lol, and totally fantastic. Enough so that I’ve already bought the series…and hope Hunter will continue!!
We see from Thorn’s perspective using first-person point-of-view, and that part of it is an easy read. Hunter certainly keeps the tension and drama up, enough so that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Part of what slowed me down, however, is how confusing this world of hers is.
It’s taken several times through the story to figure out everything to do with Holy Amethyst, how Malashe-el fits in with the good and the bad, and understanding how/who the seraphs and cherub are who are imprisoned. And obviously this confusion hasn’t kept me from buying the books *grin*.
Hunter has blended parts of today’s world with this world of demanding angels (these angels are much more dictatorial than those in Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter) and their Puritanical ideas of sin. Not to say that all of their views on sin are bad, but some of them take me back in history to times I’d never want to revisit! And it’s weird to hear of rock and roll being reinstated, using the Internet and yet living an Old West lifestyle a’horseback with wagons and limited electricity.
The conflicts Hunter provides are mostly clashes of morals and values from greed to hypocrisy to prejudice. One of the problems, conflicts I guess I should say, is the sexual attraction angels have to mages and vice versa. Neither side wants the attraction, especially Thorn as it can out her, a death sentence for a mage in hiding.
The main theme is the prejudice humans have against mages…with a side order of greed and fear. It goes along with its the winners who write the history, leaving humans with no concept of the mages’ side. Nor do many of the townspeople think! I mean…I get that the average person is terrified of those “perverse” mages, but Thorn has been blessed by a seraph. Doesn’t that count for something? Wouldn’t that make the bigoted stop and think?
I love how Hunter pulls in the shop, their art, and the raw materials that play such a huge part in every aspect of their varied lives and interests.
Hunter encourages you to root for Thorn and her friends and to despise those who cannot think beyond their own fears. It’s a pip!
Since being outed, Thorn is beset by those who hate and fear her, and she’s learned who her friends are. It matters not that Thorn’s powers have saved them and their town, all they can see are the demon spawn and succubae that attack. And the truth of her being one of the feared mages.
That fear and prejudice force Thorn to face a trial despite her sigil of acceptance.
But her real test is in the Trine, the mountains beyond Mineral City, where imprisoned seraphs are desperate for her help and hers and the lineage of others threaten their world.
Despite her fears of going beneath, Thorn must descend deep into those snow-covered mountains and battle the armies of Darkness.
Thorn’s Gems is…
…a jewelry and lapidary shop owned by three best friends, including Thorn St. Croix Stanhope, a battle neomage working in stone who is no longer in hiding and with the permission of the High Host to be outside an enclave. Lemuel Hastings had been Thorn’s foster father and brother to Gramma Stanhope. Rose is the twin Thorn thinks was killed.
Rupert Stanhope is one of the partners and Lucas’ brother. Audric is a half-breed mule and a famous dead-miner with a claim on the town of Sugar Grove. He’s also in a relationship with Rupert. And, regrettably, bound to Raziel after events in Bloodring, 1. Both men declare themselves Thorn’s champards, her champions in battle.
Jacey is the third partner and married to Big Zed. Zeddy is his oldest; Cissy is both of theirs.
Thaddeus Bartholomew is a state police cop, Rupert’s cousin, and a kylen attracted to Thorn. Durbarge is an Administration of the ArchSeraph Investigator, an assey, who is supposed to protect a mage in the human population.
Mineral City is…
…located in the Appalachian Mountains and known for its quartz and feldspar. Esmeralda “Miz Essie” Boyles and her son, Eli Walker, a part-time miner and tracker who prefers cowboy gear and Sennabel Schwartz, the local librarian, and her husband are some of Thorn’s supporters.
Townspeople also include Old Lady Vestis who makes the sign of evil when she passes the shop; Howard; Ephraim; Earl; Widow-woman Henderson; Louis; Richard; Joseph (he is thought to own a still in the hills); Florence Watkins who is firm orthodox; Mrs. Abernathy who gossips; Hannah Zelmack; Mack who is up for cursing, lewd speech, and propagandizing for supporting the EIH; Amos and Mabel Ramps who were bought witnesses; Ken Schmidt who is a miner; Eugene who is a fiddler; and, Derek Culpepper and his father who are two of those who hate Thorn, partly because she screwed up a business deal for him. Sarah Schubert and her husband own Blue Tick Hound Guns.
Lucas Stanhope is Thorn’s catting-about ex-husband, currently married to Jane Hilton. He’s changed since he was taken prisoner and fed manna. Ciana is his eight-year-old daughter (who prefers Thorn’s company) with his first wife, the nasty Marla. Their grandfather, Mole Man, a.k.a., Benaiah Stanhope, is revered by the seraphs and the local humans. His wife, Gramma Stanhope, had been Adain Hastings‘ daughter.
The Council of the Town Fathers include…
…the kirk elders. Elder Jasper, a Cherokee, had been Thorn’s friend, as was his wife, Polly. Elders Culpepper and Perkins are definitely not her friends. Elder Shamus Waldroup, a baker, is the senior judge over all civil and criminal disputes; Do’rise is his wife. Tobitt is a bailiff.
The High Host of the Seraphim are…
…the ruling council of seraphs, angels of punishment who descended upon Earth and destroyed its populations. Now humanity answers to them. Raziel is a warrior angel who bound Audric and is second to Michael. Michael is the ArchSeraph. Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel are also high-order seraphs, princes. Adonal is the Angel of Punishment, a.k.a., a “terrible angel”, who had judged Thorn in Bloodring. Cheriour answers the mage-in-dire cry, a two-edged sword, as it usually ends with the Sword of Punishment that can rebound back on all humans in the area. Garshanal.
Watchers are Fallen but repentant angels, who had lived on earth and taught new skills to humans. For this they were stripped of many powers and exiled to earth. Minor Flames are creatures of spirit and energy, warriors who look like fire.
Holy Amethyst is a cherubim whose Wheels were freed in Bloodring, but she is still trapped. She claims Malashe-el as hers by day. Zadkiel, her winged-warrior mate and Right Hand of the ArchSeraph Michael, is also trapped.
Baraqyal “Barak” is a Watcher imprisoned by the Dark. He might also be Baraqijal who taught astrology. Daria is a neomage with whom Barak mated, the first seraph to take a mage lover.
The EIH is…
…a.k.a., Earth Invasion Heretics who believe the angels are aliens here to enslave the earth. Joseph Barefoot invites Thorn to join the EIH. Tomas and Rickie are EIH operatives.
The Enclaves are…
…reservations for mages. Lolo is the priestess of the New Orleans Enclave and is as a grandmother to Thorn. Mages have specific powers that use creation energies: stone, metal, earth, sun, moon, sea, weather, and water.
Oliver Winston and Romona Benson are reporters with Satellite News Network.
Powers of Darkness are…
…demons, who are immortal spirits with two physical forms, and the Fallen who taught skills to man. Malashe-el is a daywalker, mortal, and a Minor Darkness in thrall to the Master of the Trine (the mountain) by night. Azazel is one of Satan’s. Ephrahu is one of the human guards.
Forcas is now a Major Power, promoted after Bloodring, after Lucas.
Dead-miners scavenge abandoned homesteads and towns for the household goods left behind. Kylen are half-mage, half-angel who may only breed with humans with all offspring taken to a Realm of Light. Mages, the first unforeseen, aren’t fertile with humans but they are with seraphs. Mules are the second unforeseen, sterile, incompletely developed, and half-human, half-seraph. An omega mage can command seraphs in battle. Federal crimes include forbidden sexual practices and black magic.
General Bascomb, a parent of one of the original neomages, ordered a nuclear bomb dropped on these teens. Enoch was a human man who had pled for the Watchers before the Most High.
The Cover and Title
The cover has dark borders with an explosion of gold in the middle with a background of industrial abandonment. It’s the red-haired Thorn in the middle of it all in her black leather battlesuit, swords in hand and one on her back with a flourish of what seems to be the misty red flame lining of a black cape. The title is in a shadowed white across the center with the author’s name in white at the bottom.
The title reflects our closer introduction to the Seraphs.