Thursday, April 25, 2019

Early Review: The Shadow Warrior by Ann Aguirre


The Shadow Warrior 
(Ars Numina #4)
Ann Aguirre
Release: April 26, 2019
Goodreads Amazon
ARC provided by the author
Bitter. Broken. Brutal.
Molded since childhood to be the perfect weapon, Gavriel d’Alana (also known as Death’s Shadow) has devoted himself to serving Thalia Talfayen. The life of a Noxblade is lethal and lonely, and since the princess has no need of him, he secretly believes there’s no reason for him to live—and he should seek a glorious death—but that’s before he tangles with a tiger woman who unleashes his darkest desires.

Tough. Tenacious. Trustworthy.
Magda Versai has a reputation for being unattainable—no deep attachments, only discreet amusements. If she has her way, the pride will never learn of her private heartbreak, as she accepted her curse years ago. Now, she focuses on work, which is why she’s acting as Raff’s bodyguard while secretly hunting for Slay. The search leads Mags to team up with a Noxblade so belligerent that she can’t resisting baiting him.

She’s the steel, he’s the flint, and the sparks they strike together might kindle a fire that could warm them for a lifetime, if they don’t kill each other first…

In the previous Ars Numina book, The Wolf Lord, we saw Gavriel and Magda set off in search of a group of Eldritch rebels. The Shadow Warrior follows them on that journey and includes some of the same events from their perspective. It also shows us more of the Eldritch territory outside of Princess Thalia's castle. I'm just fascinated with the world and really enjoyed seeing that side of it. The rural areas are such a contrast to the high tech city that we saw previously.

Throughout the series, Aguirre has also explored different types of relationships and sexuality. Gavriel is a virgin masochist who's always felt his desires were wrong. Magda understands his needs and helps him to accept them. I enjoyed the banter and the playful tone of the relationship between these two dark and serious characters. They also addressed their prejudices about each other's groups in an interesting way that could have felt heavy-handed but didn't.

However, I wish that both characters had wrapped up their missions in a way that tied back in to the overall story. I wanted more closure in Magda's hunt for Slay in particular, even though I know we'll return to him for book six. Instead, the end of the book is pretty lovey-dovey. And that's fine, just not consistent with my impression of the rest of the series.

Unlike the previous books The Shadow Warrior doesn't do much to advance the series story line, which makes sense since it ends in about the same place on the timeline as the previous book. But as a result, I really felt like I needed to reread to find out where I was when I finished the book. (There is a series synopsis at the beginning, which is helpful but I still think a reread is in order before the next book comes out.) What this book does though, is provide a different perspective on the Eldritch's internal conflict by showing what life is like in other parts of the territory and for the refugees displaced by the fighting. I'm excited to return to the shifter world in book five and see what's next.


My reviews of other books in this series:
The Demon Prince (Ars Numina #2)
The Wolf Lord (Ars Numina #3)

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