Reviewed by: Ulysses Dietz
Member of The Paranormal Guild Review Team
“And that was one of Ivan’s shortcomings. A conscience.”
I should complain, because the only gay romance in this substantial sequel to “The Demon of Hagermarsh” is a little bit at the end that’s the same romance that burgeoned in the first book. We never quite learn where Ivan Quetzal’s romantic interests lie.
As I said, I should complain, but I can’t quite bring myself to, because “The Windmines of Bora-Bora” is such great fun, and the character of Ivan is so interesting, and our second adventure with Sir Yaden is so action-packed and surprisingly funny…well, there you are.
While the Brackhauses have followed the same general format as in the first book – the main narrative alternating with flashbacks to Ivan’s past – the content is entirely different. “Demon” had touching memories of Darios’s meeting the young Yaden. This story’s flashbacks are from the perspective of Ivan’s older sister Anya, and they quickly become chillingly creepy, exposing as they do the twisted and sadistic logic of the Quetzal nobles.
Rather than a quiet backwater on a dull gray planet, we find ourselves on a space shuttle delivering slaves to Bora-Bora, the dusty orange moon of the polluted Yaiciz, the most heavily industrialized world in the empire. Not coincidentally, Yaiciz is ruled by Ivan’s family.
From the start, in the miserable and hopeless slave pens of Bora-Bora, we are thrown into Ivan’s despair; but we also see his intelligence and his boundless courage. We are not the only ones to notice this, and Ivan is quickly taken up by a strangely cheerful, dirt-encrusted slave referred to only as Smelly. We, of course, know who he is, but the narrative takes its own sweet time to reveal the truth to Ivan, who (understandably) has a hard time believing it. Taking up tw0 thirds of the book, the adventure on Bora-Bora is exciting, fast-paced, and pretty gruesome.
Once more, Mr. and Mrs. Brackhaus present us with a world that is bizarrely diverse, mingling imagery evocative of Tolkein’s Middle Earth with such earth-bound mundanities as microwave ovens and celebrity fan magazines. The very strangeness of this multifarious world kept me smiling, even when the battle was at fever-pitch. The richly detailed portrayal of both Ivan and Smelly give us the same kind of satisfaction that Darios and Yaden did in the first installment.
By the end, with Anya Quetzal’s ultra-creepy final memory, we begin to be able to guess at the long arc that this series will take. Both Yaden and Ivan are Quetzal noblemen, and yet these two young men are as different from most of their kindred as night and day. We truly understand that the Virasana Emperor does indeed care about each and every one of his subjects, and that the Lotus Knights have a lot of work to do to bring the Empire into line.
What fun it’s going to be.
I do, however, want actual gay romance in the next book. My patience is not boundless.