Firstly – it needs to be said that this is book two, and it ends where the second half of the book should be. Nothing is complete, or resolved. It’s a bog fat, ugly “Read My Next Book!” Nope. I don’t think I will; because that is bullshit to publish a half a book/story. Yes it was nice and long. I don’t think it should have been hacked and slashed to shorten and finish… it should have been completed, in the full glorious complete story.
Azura Ghost is the second book in this series. I recall really enjoying the first one, it was exceptionally unique. I’m not quite as excited about the follow up, but I did enjoy it. Azura Ghost doesn’t have quite the same new, interesting spark, and the direction is less riveting, though it does have some curious moments.
Story includes out most main character: Caiden. On the run in a distant time, place, other universe (/s), keeping alive, and hidden, from the two opposing ‘leaders’ of the time. People with ‘Graven’ genes. Having graven, means you can bend people to your will. Not only with your words, but your mere presence makes them adore you. Threi, the Casthen Prime, commands an army of people to die for him, and they immediately slit their own throats. Our other Prime, Abriss; Threi’s sister, wants a different kind of reality, and uses her influence to those ends. This war between them began in book 1’s arc.
Caiden, doesn’t think anyone should have this kind of power over anyone, let alone all people. However, the effect isn’t unilateral to all Species, the humans, are the weakest. Abriss and Threi are human, but with Graven genes. Caiden wants to stop them, Threi especially. (Hence why he worked so hard to defeat him in book 1, and ended up locking him in a universe bubble he can not get out of, or any other person in to.)
The Graven are a Species that existed in the universe before us, and are long gone. Only relics remain. Their technology – very powerful and advanced. And their genes have been harvested, and spliced into a line of rulers. (how they could have found gene evidence is pretty… unfathomable; when they’re suppositing they’ve been gone a millennium. But ok….)
Events of time have put Abriss and Threi against each other. Battling for control of the known universe/s. (still) . which Graven ruler will come out on top?
In this fictional reality, the Universe began as ‘one’. Then it shattered or split, the reason is not known why. But now, there are many universes. Each in it’s own ‘bubble’ of reality, in which it’s own laws and rules apply. And many sentient species of people. What is hospitable for one species in one, may be completely the opposite in another. Some species can travel between them – or at least to the hospitable ones.
In our story, we hop from universe bubble to universe bubble. Our characters are many different sentient Alien Species.
Caiden must hide, run evade, to keep himself, and more importantly, his pet Nophek safe. And even more so – the Graven technology ship he discovered, coincidentally in book 1, the Azura. He must protect them at all costs from Abriss and Threi. And they want them. (the ship and his Nophek).
The thing about this story… is it feels a bit more flat to me. More like the author is following a standard template on plot. Almost predictable in the way events roll out. Like… the leader gets knocked down a few notches, loses faith, starts turning bad.. can they be saved? Only our hero can turn the tides! Stay tuned!
That said, it is interesting, unique, fast paced, filled with conflict, conflicting emotions, many different threads of plot, and an explosive direction. How will it end? Universes get ‘popped’, and reabsorbed into Unity, the original. Azura the ship gets shattered. Caiden gets dead. But yet… somehow things are ok?
• Story pacing?
Non stop action. But not to fast to keep up with. 9/10
• Story character arcs?
We see a lot of arc explored here. Caiden has to grapple with his feelings of guilt leaving Leta behind as a child in book one – though no fault of his own. He made a promise to come back to her, but he was unable. Next Caiden must deal with Leta’s manipulation of his emotions and trust, and her betrayal.
Leta’s arc is there to, from being raised by Abriss, as a pet, given these peoples etc. but at the same time being totally imprisoned, and given no agency of mind or choice.
Threi supposedly seems changed from his time locked in his universe, but once he’s out he’s the same murdering single minded greedy ruler who wants all the power.
Abriss goes from wanting to build the best reality, to wanting Threi to share the ruling, to wanting to pop all the universes, kill Threi, rule everything herself, and lose her humanity doing so.
Other characters show arc too – overall, a lot of dynamic action. 8/10
• Story arc?
Definitely a lot of plot arc, and so much happens, in so any different aspects of the story. But it’s only half a book plot, so .. fail there. 5/10
• Story writing quality?
Easy to read, and follow, despite the complexity of plots, characters, how they all intermingle, main characters and minor alike. 8/10
• Story wokeness? ( tolerable / gag me)
Our leader Threi, kisses minor character Feran, his scientist. Wee, a same sex kiss! … but I’m telling you this subplot checked. A. box. It had no value or need in the story. 5/10
• Grates against my annoyances?
Our author went on a tangent using the word ‘beat’. Omfg. Minimum of 8 times. Just kill me now. No wait.. kill the writer. Break their pen! This is egregious. 0/10
• Grates against my annoyances? (fictional words)
A lot of fictional place names and name names, many annoying to try and pronounce. 5/10
• Story romance level?
Author leads on there is ‘something’ between Caiden and Leta, but it never crosses to romance, just unresolved , not yet untangled, feelings. Not sure this was a benefit to the plot, but at the least it wasn’t distracting. But then there’s the WTF kiss between Feran and Threi. This did nothing for the story aside from checking boxes. And being a distraction. 2/10
• Story readability?
It’s a complex story, with a lot to keep track of. And if you don’t remember the details of book one, much of it will not make any sense. 7/10
• Story Completeness (did it end on a cliff hanger, or a see my next book!)?
Half. A. Book. 0/10
• Did the story cover familiar ground, or go new places?
Obviously, it continues in the multiple fictional universe bubbles of book one, but it definitely takes a new direction for the story line in book two. 8/10
• Was there anything I wanted to know that was left unanswered?
Indeed! Why do authors and publishes think it Is FINE to end a book with half a story?!?! The only thing this does is piss off your readers, who spend hard earned money to support you, and read your work.
• Things I really liked / or didn’t like?
My overall feeling with this installment in the series, was it felt ‘flat’ and ‘shallow’ compared to how I remember enjoying the first book. I did like the book, and story, but it just didn’t move me into a Frack-ya! State of mind after reading. It missed the magic mark. 7/10