As a fantasy, the long-drawn out hemming and hawing of the romance compromises the story. But then when you are writing a romance, the actual life stories take second place. The Blades of Acktar fantasy does much better than most in keeping a focus on the story, and the world Tricia builds is well done, for sure.
Leith is one of my favorite damaged heroes. As usual, when it comes to romance, he falls apart. But that is typical. Jaye Knight probably shares the intent in her review of Defy: “Leith is one of my preciouses. You know, those all time favorite characters you want to hug and place in bubble wrap and take them away from their author until said author learns to play nice? Leith is one of them.” The key here is to catch the “until said author learns to play nice”.
My only real complaint about the book is that Tricia never does learn to play nice. She is so focused on placing her characters in disaster after disaster that there are few places to relax and enjoy the people. Leith had it rough and he spends the entire series lamenting his past. The series doesn’t help much—in fact my review for Deny (Book Two) states:
I could get quite pathological about it. Second books are horrible. This one is compelling, tense, irritating, and all the rest.
The characters are complex and intriguing…though I often wanted to smack them. It’s one of the major faults of romantic fantasies. The lead characters fiddle around refusing to admit their growing desires, infatuation, or (gasp) love. It’s like they’re brain dead.
But the story is marvelous. Did I mention I hate cliffhangers?
Christian fantasy authors seem to have mean streak. They are absolutely sadistic in how they treat the characters in their second books. They don’t treat them very well for the rest of the series either. I know it’s the way we’re told we have to write a series. But just a little more kindness would go a long way.
Of course, I’m a guy and my focus was on Renna and Brandi Faythe. I feel about them the way Jaye feels about Leith. I wanted to protect them from the author. Their world is difficult enough. Their trials are horrendous. But Renna is a very attractive woman, a complex character whose personality is very compelling. Brandi’s just a kid. But her enthusiasm is marvelous. She’s real joy. I still wonder if her scar from the sword blow to the head…read the book.
I was going to give it a Redemptive Fiction award, but the romance really dominates the tale [to its detriment in my eyes]. But then I’m a guy, and romances are written for women in most cases. (Although I will admit a romance written for guys is a real joy. Try Guy’s Warrior Kind series or his book of the year for 2015 [free for Ruach Battle Group members].)
The only spiritual failing is the lack of true spiritual enemies to resist and overcome. There is no evil spirit level to these books. However, they are excellent YA fantasy, action/adventure, romances that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to my children [teens will do better as the trials are pretty intense].