Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Steel's Edge by Ilona Andrews

The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is a fairy tale—and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…

Charlotte de Ney is as noble as they come, a blueblood straight out of the Weird. But even though she possesses rare magical healing abilities, her life has brought her nothing but pain. After her marriage crumbles, she flees to the Edge to build a new home for herself. Until Richard Mar is brought to her for treatment, and Charlotte’s life is turned upside down once again.

Richard is a swordsman without peer, future head of his large and rambunctious Edger clan—and he’s on a clandestine quest to wipe out slavers trafficking humans in the Weird. So when his presence leads his very dangerous enemies to Charlotte, she vows to help Richard destroy them. The slavers’ operation, however, goes deeper than Richard knows, and even working together, Charlotte and Richard may not survive..

This is the final book in the Edge series by Ilona Andrews.  I read it with trepidation and concern - not because of the writing (as always, it is outstanding)  but because I wasn't sure how I'd react as a reader to the conclusion of this series that crept unexpectedly into my heart and under my skin.  

The books are all standalones within a created world - and a what a world! Rich and diverse and interesting, it is populated by humans mundane and normal, but also by humans with special talents.  A lot of thought and work's gone into these books, in creating the world, the magics, the rules, the hierachy of the bluebloods and how the Edge, The Weird and the Broken fit into one another and influence on another.  

I've not had the chance to read much straight urban fantasy of late, which makes me sad, but I moved everything off my TBR when Steel's Edge came out, mostly because these books are addictive!   If you can't tell from my write-up I mention in my previous review of the first three in the series, that this is a rather splendid series, I'm not sure I've done a good job. 

I wasn't sure if I'd fall for the characters as much as I'd done in the other books but I have! Charlotte is such a brilliant character - damaged, dark, noble, caring, sweet, confused.  I couldn't help but fall for her in a big big way.  I think, after Rose from On The Edge, she is my favourite MC in this series.  Richard Mar, as Charlotte's foil and love interest is a Bad Ass and so unutterably cool and well written - wry, charming, quickwitted, dark and equally damaged, the two are fantastically destined to be together, but their story of coming together is handled so well that it never feels obvious.  Also, the overall story-arc of the slavers and both Richard and Charlotte's determination to stop them, is the big driving force and is never really side-lined. 

Several smaller storylines from other books are brought to a conclusion here too but they are woven through the plot and seem integral so even if you start with Steel's Edge, you'll still understand (due to glib and well handled exposition) what the significance is behind various decisions the characters, both main and secondary, make as the book draws to a conclusion. 

I know Ilona and her hubby are much loved and well known for their Katie Daniels books but really, these are, out of all the urban fantasy that I've read, my favourites.  There is action aplenty, the dialogue is intense and cohesive, the politics are handled with ease but it's the characters at the centre of each story that stand out as well created, interesting people.  Maybe not people I would like to hang around with unarmed, but still pretty cool people that as a reader I can identify with, mostly because they are flawed and their motivations feel real. 

Charlotte and Richard's story is bittersweet and I was a big old crybaby a few times - always the sign of a good book - and I sat up till 2am during last week to finish it.  And when I did, I had a satisfied smile on my face.  It was good. 

So, a lot of readers are worried about urban fantasy and the sexy times.  One of the reasons why I love these books specifically is because you will maybe have one or two incredibly well written, super hot, never gross, sex scenes that make you go a bit flustered and hot under the collar.  Not bad! I don't want more than that - because it's not the whole of the story, rather it is part of it. 

So, if you've an urban fantasy fan, but maybe you're worried about too much romance and sexy times, then this series is for you.  If you like romance and you like action and well written worlds, this series is also for you. 

Right - my job is done.  Here's a link to my previous review I've done on the first three Edge titles.  Buy them, they are addictive and fun. 

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