A welcome return to the Kinsmen series…
Author duo Ilona Andrews have returned to their Kinsmen universe after a decade or so, and it’s a shame they stayed away so long. Fated Blades is a long novella – or is it a short book? You pick! But either way, it’s a fast-paced and fun tale for both IA fans and those new to IA’s books.
The premise of the Kinsmen series is simple. Borrowing loosely from the intro to one of the earlier books: humans needed to be “enhanced” to facilitate spreading across the galaxy – able to survive harsh conditions, or be fierce hunters or warriors, or make brilliant scientific advances. And some of these enhancements were biological, and could be passed down through the generations. Since, however, humans were still basically human, the folks who had these genetic advantages soon wanted to keep them to themselves, and thus the Kinsmen families were born.
Fated Blades features two such families, both with the ability to generate deadly swords or impenetrable shields from their bodies on a moment’s notice. The “secare” originally were soldiers created to fight in a vicious war, but have dispersed in the decades since. The Baenas and the Adlers settled on the same planet though, and in true Montague-Capulet fashion, they are sworn enemies. So when the wife of the head of one family and the husband of the other not only have an affair, but more importantly, steal precious business secrets, heads are going to roll. Quite literally.
As the leaders of their respective clans, Ramona Adler and Matias Baena have to clean up the mess, quickly and quietly, or their families will be destroyed. So they uneasily agree to pursue the culprits together. What follows is a classic space opera (even if not actually set in space), as they race across Rada and back, fighting battles, sharing a few moments of downtime, and learning more about each other as they go. And of course, as with all epic adventures, there’s a show-stopper of an ending – or actually two show-stoppers if you count the epilogue….
Some of Ilona Andrews’ longer books deal with serious themes from time to time, even if these are sort of hidden amongst the action. But their novellas mostly seem to be written for fun, and Fated Blades is one of the best. Long-time fans will treasure the occasional sneaky references to earlier Kinsmen stories: silver shark serpents, the Escana family, passion cones. But none of these are central to the story, and everyone will enjoy the wicked action, the slowly developing relationship between Mathias and Ramona, and finding out how things turn out in the end! (Finally, on a personal level, I also particularly enjoyed one of the minor characters, Haider Davenport, and hope someday maybe he and his husband get their own story, even if it’s just a short prequel or web-snippet.)
Fated Blades is coming on Nov 23, 2021, and it’s an Amazon exclusive. Pre-purchase links are provided below. Also please note that I received an advance review copy from the authors, via their publishers, Montlake, and from NetGalley, and my thanks go to all.