Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel!
A RUNAWAY WITH A HIDDEN PAST
Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself entangled in a foreign war where her burgeoning powers are sought by both sides.
A COMMANDER IN DISGRACE
Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the realm under the dominion of the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice sees him caught up in a web of political intrigue that will put his oath – and his heart – to the test.
A KINGDOM UNDER SIEGE
With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a bargain to save those they love most—but it is a bargain with unintended and disastrous consequences. Truths are revealed, birthrights claimed, and loyalties questioned—all while a menace deadlier and more far-reaching than they realize sweeps across the world.
I love how Jensen has set up this series, that you can start with either Dark Shores or Dark Skies. I did start with Dark Shores last year and I loved Teriana and her people along with Marcus and his army of misfits. I feel like we learned something of Lydia at the end of that book but I honestly can’t remember and while reading Teriana’s story my thoughts never really turned to Lydia. Turns out Lydia did have a story to tell though, one full of deception, love and heartache.
“North must not meet South”
What if you grew up and only knew half of the world and thought there was nothing beyond the ocean but more ocean? In the Empire of Celendor, a conquering empire, there is believed to be nothing beyond the Endless Seas. There are rumors of the Dark Shores though and what lies there but no one really knows for certain…or do they?
The book is told from two POV’s, Lydia and Killian. Lydia resides in the city of Celendrial, raised as a Cel lady by one of the top Cel Senators and raised as his own. While she was raised as a lady though she is outcasted thanks to her skin color, but has no interest in polite society and instead dreams of more scholarly pursuits. She’s a warrior at heart though and willing to do anything to protect those she loves once she learns of threats against them. Her best friend, a Maarin sailor, and her people have been keeping a secret about the existence of the Dark Shores across the seas. She entrusts Lydia with this secret in an attempt to help her escape a political marriage but things go sideways. Plots of murder and extending the Cel kingdoms reach end with Lydia finding herself in a whole new world full of god and goddesses at war through their peoples with her only ally a handsome yet infuriating solider.
Killian resides in the kingdom of Mudamora in the hidden world of the Dark Shores. He is a boy marked by on of the six (gods/goddesses) and therefore holds more responsibility than most. His mark is for strength in battle but his reputation is one of debauchery. After a catastrophic attack at the wall he was to defend a war is now upon his kingdom and his god seeming to have turned his back on him. His reputation is in shreds and he’s now part of a political game he never wanted to be apart of. On top of all of that he meets a mysterious girl in the streets who is now in danger thanks to him and is spouting wild tales of a faraway land he’s never even considered existing.
If you are looking for a nice long and drawn out slow burn this is the book for you. While there were not a lot of romantic scenes, there was a lot of tension. Lydia and Killian did have some cute moments though. While there was some romance I feel like it really took a backseat to everything else that was going on. That’s just how Lydia and Killian are as characters though, they’re pragmatic and prioritize the needs of others above their own wants. I loved the moments that they did have though.
I started off my reading thinking that the pacing was too slow but then realized I just wanted Killian and Lydia to cross paths and was being impatient. The book starts with them in their respective kingdoms living these drastically different lives. I couldn’t fathom how their lives could possibly intertwine. And when they finally did? Just wow. I loved that scene and how strong Lydia was, able to hold her own and show her real strength.
One thing I love about Jensen is her inclusivity which I praised in my review of Dark Shores as well. We get a mix of races, with white not being the race not in power in Celendrial. In the other half of the world racism doesn’t even seem to exist, no one is judged by their skin color nor their sexual preferences. Gay, lesbian, bi it doesn’t effect the life you can have there and no one even bats an eye if you are.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of my review you can start with either Dark Skies or Dark Shores. I personally recommend starting with Dark Skies. I think it cleared up things a bit faster, but that could just be because I haven’t read Dark Shores in over a year. Will reread and get back to you. I’m very curious to see the direction this series will take though. Both end in huge cliffhangers and it’ll be interesting to see how they come together. Will the next book be from four POV’s or will we got back to just Teriana and Marcus and then Killian and Lydia? All I do know is that Jensen has created an amazing new world to explore.