This book is complicated. Interesting and creative… with good sexual tension… but ultimately difficult to connect to because it was so foreign.
The basic premise is that Ashor is one of a handful of magi, tasked by the Gods to fight the evil daemons that threaten humanity. He is immortal –or almost. He can die by the hands of a daemon or one of his own brethren, but he is always reborn into the role he swore to uphold centuries ago. In each reincarnation, he forgets his former lives and it takes years before he learns to use his gifts again. He isn’t supposed to kill humans, not even the Hashishins who summon the daemons into this world. The more he kills, the more he lets out the violence in his soul, the more he begins to turn dark… until there is nothing of himself left.
Kira is a doctor, but more than that, she is a mystical healer. She can diagnose and heal a problem with the touch of her hands. She is the fated akrain of the magi… their personal healer… but she wants no part of that life. She does, however, want a piece of Ashor. Ever since she rescued him from the hands of the Hashishins years ago, she has been unable to stop thinking of him. The feeling is mutual.
Ashor knows something Kira doesn’t. She is his fated female, the only thing that can keep his darkness at bay. Unfortunately, the Gods forbid the magi from getting intimate with the akrain, so she is off limits, no matter how much he yearns for her.
After years apart, a close call with the Hashishins puts Ashor and Kira back in each other’s lives. And once the bad guys figure out who she is, her old life is not safe. So the story follows Ashor and Kira as they fight their feelings for one another and try to figure out her place in the world of magic and the supernatural.
You may have noticed already that this series is big on coining its own terminology. There are about a dozen glossary worthy terms tossed around throughout the book. It confused me. In the best cases, it simply pulled me out of the story; in the worst cases, it left me feeling lost and disconnected. The worldbuilding is… ambitious. Maybe overly so. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it didn’t have so many funky words in there. Plus, it’s nothing like your standard PNR. We’re talking Egyptian mythology here; I don’t really have a reserve of knowledge on that to draw from to help fill in the blanks. (Even now that I am done, I still don’t know what Shaitan means.) There is a glosssary, but it’s at the END. It would have been much more useful at the beginning.
On the plus side, I did enjoy the romance. Ashor is deliciously ansty and tries very hard to do the right thing. That means the sexual tension is ever-present! And it’s well-done. I liked the characters and I was interested in what happened to them. The sex is good and the conflict, believable. Plus — now that I feel like I understand the world, I think I would like to see how the story continues… maybe with poor Javen. He is even closer to the edge than Ashor was!
*Book provided for judging in RONE awards