Milla Vane returns to a world of kings, magic, and passion in her exhilarating A Gathering of Dragons series, as a great alliance forms to stand against an evil warlord intent on their destruction.
Danger lurks in the western realms. The Destroyer’s imminent return has sent the realms into turmoil as desperate citizens seek refuge—but there’s no safety to be found when demons and wraiths crawl out from the shadows. Even Koth, a northern island kingdom left untouched by the Destroyer a generation past, is besieged by terrors spawned from corrupt magics.
When Lizzan leads the Kothan army against these terrors, only to see her soldiers massacred and to emerge as the only survivor, she is called a coward and a deserter. Shunned from her home, Lizzan now wanders in solitude as a mercenary for hire, until she encounters a group of warriors seeking new alliances with the northern kingdoms—a group that includes Aerax, the bastard prince of Koth, and the man who sent her into exile.
Though they were childhood friends, Aerax cannot allow himself to be close to the only woman who might thwart his treacherous plan to save their island realm. But when a goddess’s demand binds them together, Lizzan and Aerax must find a way to overcome their painful pasts. Or there will be no future for the western realms…
Milla Vane continues to write MAGIC into her adult fantasy romances!
I went into A TOUCH OF STONE AND SNOW with trepidation since I loved the previous book so much. I didn’t want high expectations to dim my enjoyment, you know? But I shouldn’t have been scared – Vane delivers and more. A TOUCH OF STONE AND SNOW was a fierce sequel in this series that also stands on its own, with cameos from familiar characters while focusing on a new region in Vane’s extensive world. All the characters – main and otherwise – ooze life into the pages, and you really can’t help but love them. Don’t be fooled by the covers! (I admit, I was when I first saw them.) This series is PERFECT for readers who love a delicious blend of romance and fantasy, with extensive world-building, action, and storyline to keep pages turning, and a scorching romance to tug at heartstrings. Vane’s writing completes the fantasy feeling – it’s a bit long-winded, but not so much where you get lost in the narrative. Her characterizations are masterfully crafted, creating flawed heroes that you can’t help but cheer on. And finally, this book features the best second-chance romance I’ve read this year.
“This is what we would build here: not merely an alliance, but Dragons made of warriors from every realm – with claws that will make the Destroyer’s armies bleed, with deadly stings to pierce his defenses, with wings that we will stretch across the western realsm, so that everywhere he goes, so too we will be. And all the while, our Dragons’ armored scales will protect the people at the heart of every realm.”
Because of the plot, I think it would be nice to read book 1. But honestly I wouldn’t say it’s required, as the events of the previous book are important but not necessary to make this book readable. The major, encompassing storyline is to defeat the Destroyer, who returns to lay ruin upon the lands. As history shows, the best way to do so is to band together rather than fight separately. As such, the characters in this book are a motley crew who are hoping to create these alliances with kingdoms in the realm. Unfortunately, the superiority and corruption of the Koth kingdom (where our main characters are from) prove that difficult, but with a stalwart heroine and ferocious hero, it just might be possible. Vane creates a huge realm, with a central religion and vast kingdoms to explore. The plot is never boring and keeps readers’ attention as our crew of characters are thrust into perilous situations that will leave people singing about their glory for days to come.
“He was the man who would do anything to see her safe. He was the man who would protect her with his very life. He was the man who would love her until the skyburned Temra to ash.
He was Lizzan’s. Fully and truly Lizzan’s.
Nothing else Aerax ever became would mean more than that.”
As much as I adored the world that Vane wrote, the characters always shine in her stories. Goals are questioned, perspectives are challenged, and lessons are learned when it comes to these characters. They’re so easy to cheer on, despite their flaws. And of course, the dialogue is full of wit and fun.
The heroine, Lizzan, is a selfless, disgraced warrior who is banished from her kingdom of Koth. She left the island with heartbreak and a tainted reputation, choosing to become a nomad and sword-for-hire. She starts the book as an alcoholic on the run, and transitions into a woman with a mission and purpose. She may stray off her path at times, but it’s always done with other people in mind, instead of selfish reasons. Lizzan proves again and again through action how much of a protector she is, and how she’s willing to sacrifice herself for the good of others. This extends to Aerax, a bastard prince who she grew up to love.
Aerax grew up ignored in Koth due to his bastard heritage, until a fever wiped out most of the royal family and he was forced to step up into his role. This caused a bridge between him and Lizzan, as they grew up together and became the best of friends (with romantic feelings eventually coming up). Usually for second-chance romances, I get disappointed by the point of conflict that caused the break-up in the first place. But in this book, I believe both characters’ actions were justified and logical, which made the resolution to it satisfying. Aerax is a man on a mission, but reclaiming his lost love is also on the top of his goals. He’s ready to be the villain in the story if it means the good of his people, and although he’s known as the “savage prince,” has a really heroic heart. For his part, the story focuses on the kind of person he wants to be (A prince? A villain? Something else?), and the kind of legacy he will leave behind.
The romance itself had lots of chemistry and lots of heart. Lizzan and Aerax’s love for each other was proved via action and dialogue, again and again. I loved how tender the romance was, while the characters themselves were ready to prepare for war – a beautiful juxtaposition.
One last thing to note – this book has a lot of graphic content, including gory/violent scenes, that readers should know of before getting into it. The action is brutal, the romance is off-the-charts sexy, and the characters are flawed and triumphant. This phenomenal sequel marks another success in this must-read trilogy!
alcoholism, addiction, brutal violence and gore/blood (it’s very graphic), sexy times
Thank you Berkley and Netgalley for the review copy!