For avid student Olivia Murdoch, life on the Estilorian plane is filled with wondrous adventure. Every lesson about her new existence is both exciting and challenging. Along with her sisters, she embraces this non-human half of herself.
Helping with her lessons is her Gloresti, James. Teacher, scholar and distractingly attractive, James takes on his roles of Olivia’s guide and protector with equal dedication. As he learns the human emotions that Estilorians no longer experience, he starts to see Olivia as much more than just an assigned pairing.
The physically weakest of her sisters, Olivia trains hard to learn things that no typical human classroom can impart. When they travel to “Central,” the Estilorian base, she comes to understand why she must become strong enough to defend herself. She and her sisters are targets.
Not all Estilorians welcome them. In fact, more than one would see them dead.
4.5 stars — I must admit, that I had this feeling that this was going to be one of those series that got better as it went along. Part of the reason is that there is so much world-building and new terms, that I figured once we got that out of the way in the first book, it would settle in a bit easier in the next books. And while there were times I was still confused about which class certain Commanders were from (which one was Ailfrid again?), I did get used to the names of the classes and wasn’t quite as confused and overwhelmed as I was in the first book (it helps to notice patterns, like how they all end in esti).
I was also looking forward to Olivia’s story, b/c I feel like I share some traits with her (love of animals, natural affinity for maths/sciences, physically weaker), and so I was drawn to her from the first book. And maybe because of that, I felt like I had a somewhat deeper connection to her than I did with Amber. It helps that while there were other POVs in this book (as in the first one), I felt like we got more time in just Olivia and James’s heads. I LOVED how strong she could be mentally, how naturally inquisitive, and how she still had a wonderful lightness to her character that made others around her smile. She may not have had the leadership qualities of Amber, or the natural bubbliness and gregariousness of Skye, but she really brought a lot to the table, more than she realized.
And I honestly didn’t know how James was going to compete with Gabriel, but he totally did. There was something just delightfully honest and forthright and sincere about him. I know we are told that from Olivia, but I really felt it in his actions and in the way he interacted with Olivia. You could really see how much he was learning from her, and I LOVED seeing his feelings develop and confuse him.
And the other standout of this book over the first one is that we got to watch them fall in love…we got to see their relationship develop, b/c we got to see it from it’s very beginnings. I LOVE the slow fall. Seriously, it is so satisfying.
Combine that with the development of all the girls as they learn about their lives as Estilorians, and the growing tension with the bad guys (including an edge of your seat climax), and this book just delivered on all I was looking for. I can’t wait to read Skye’s story!!