Genre: fantasy romance
Cover: love it, a bit sexy, and as the author herself said on Facebook: absolutely not something the heroine would wear.
Calm the magics caught in thrall:
Put your faith in strangers' pleas,
Watcher, Witch, and treasure trove;
Ride the wave to calm the trees,
Servant saves the sacred grove.
At the behest of their leader, the Witches of Darkhana are mobilized. Their mission: gather the most honest, true servants of each deity so that they may respectfully represent their land at the reopening of the Convocation of Gods and Man. For Witch-Priest Aradin Teral, his part in the quest has taken him across the length and breadth of Katan, searching for the best possible representative of an empire bent on preventing that very task.
Ever since the destruction of the last Convocation, the magics of the Grove have been warped, endangering pilgrims and residents alike and requiring the guardianship of the strongest mage the priesthood can spare. Priestess Saleria is now the Keeper of the Grove, and Guardian of the Divine Garden. The arrival of a black-robed stranger bearing the faces of two men brings the promise of change, even peace, to the isolated valley. But it also ushers in an irresistible passion and a threat to Saleria's control of the wildest magics in the woods…
Priestess Saleria is Keeper of the Grove, which means the sacred grove where Katan’s God and Goddess got married many centuries ago. It used to be a place of beauty, and many couples wanted to get married in that same spot. But with the shattering of Air, the magic in the Grove has turned wild and unpredictable, creating monstrous plant mutations, intent on killing people. Saleria has to walk the Grove three times a day, keeping the paths free of dangerous plants and warped animals, and sucking of the excess magic. If she doesn’t, the magic only gets wilder and the plants will escape the gate into the village.
Aradin Teral is a Witch Priest from Darkhana, which means Aradin is the living Host to his Guide Teral. When a Witch dies, his soul can be bound to a living Priest, which means that his lifelong knowledge will not go to waste. Teral never wanted to be a priest, he is a very good Hortimancer. But when Aradin was killed by a tree that fell upon him, he was the only mage in the vicinity who could become a Host for Teral. And so they were joined together. After some adjustment problems, they are now like best friends who share everything, even Aradin’s body. They work well together. Aradin Teral is looking for the correct priest or priestess of Katan’s two Gods, Kata and Jinga, to represent Katan at the Convocation of the Gods. It is not known when it will be hold yet, it could be three days, and it could be three months or six months. The first few prospects he had chosen, were very wrong for the job however. They both are highly involved in the country’s politics, and are against Nightfall Island becoming an independent Empire. So now Aradin Teral is looking for someone trusted by the normal people, and with no involvement in politics, but unswerving faith in their gods. And now he has found her in Saleria, Keeper of the Grove.
Now he has to convince her of the fact that she is the one needed at the Convocation, and that he will be the perfect replacement in keeping the Grove under control during her absence. For some reason, she never was allowed an assistant in her many duties, and Saleria just has the time for her daily rounds through the Grove, and the daily prayers she sends to her gods on behalf of the people of Katan. If only she could find out where the rogue magic was coming from, and somehow control it. With Aradin Teral’s help, she might have the time to do just that. Especially as he is a trained alchemist as well.
I think you all know by now that Jean Johnson is one of my favourite authors. So I was very happy to receive this book only a few days after the publishing date instead of a few weeks. So I sat down with it last Saturday, and devoured it.
The first book in the series really read like a computer game, and this one had some of the same elements, the fighting against nature and its mutations, but also focused a bit more on the relationship between the two main characters, and on the Convocation of the Gods. I really liked how this story takes places at the same time as the last book of the Sons of Destiny series, and is intertwined in it.
I enjoyed Saleria a lot. She is a great heroine, dedicated to her job, even though she hates getting up early in the morning. She works hard, and has true faith. But she is also human, and is not afraid of the attraction to Aradin Teral, no matter how strange the thought of two men in one body is to her at first. With his help, she finally sees some opportunities to do her job as she should be able to do it.
Aradin Teral was very human in his feelings, even though he is a priest and a Witch/Mage. I liked how he gave Saleria enough time to get used to him/them and how he convinced her that making the decisions she finally made for herself and the Grove are the right ones.
Of course, not everything goes as planned, there is always that one person who tries to ruin things, but at least their relationship does not go through the standard on-off-on track, they do talk and make love and it is good as it is.
The Gods themselves, they are very much around as well, adding some extra humor and love and appreciation to their Servants to the story. And all without being overly religious.
I really like the parts where all the Guardians are working together to try to solve the problems foreseen in the future, and how it all intertwines with the Sons of Destiny novels. Even though you don’t really have to read that series first, I do recommend it, as you will enjoy this new series much more if you know what has happened before, and especially why.
Okay, enough raving from me. I just really love Jean Johnson’s writing style. The stories and worldbuilding are captivating and original, the characters are likable and loveable, and they are just human underneath their robes. If you like fantasy romance as a genre, you really should try some of her books. And yes, there are some hot love scenes too, and the romance is totally believable.
© 2013 Reviews by Aurian