Title: Twenty-One Arrow Salute (The Order #2.5)
Author: Kasia Bacon
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: June 11, 2018
Genre(s): High Fantasy, Romance
Page Count: Novella
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
An archer’s heart is a hard target to hit…
Verhan Turryés of Black Mountain is a handful.
Freshly enlisted in the Highland Regiment, he does all he can to steer clear of responsibility and commitment. Just not his cup of mead, that. Loose of tongue and even looser of morals, he rarely misses an opportunity to get into trouble—and into the other archers’ knickers, too.
In a unit composed almost entirely of Dark Elves, Hernan Seinnés, with his green eyes and auburn hair, is an outsider. When Verhan, up the creek again, is blackmailed into helping Hernan, he never expects to fall for him. But during the long hours spent training Hernan for the Honour Guard, feelings strike the Highlander right in the heart—and with the force of an arrow.
Unversed in relationships, Verhan finally plucks up enough courage to tell Hernan how he feels, only to drive the Asirhwynian away instead. If Verhan can swallow his pride, he might get one last chance to show Hernan what he means to him—and maybe this time he can hit the mark.
The most noticeable aspect of this short story is the attention to detail, particularly around the world building and linguistic structure. The suggestion by the author that the extended glossary would be worth a visit is a good one. The only limitation I found with this is that reading the story on an e-reader with no links back/forward to the glossary makes its presence a temptation rather than help. Within the story, there is some limited attempt to translate or explain terms but these are far from comprehensive and so the reader must rely on memory of the glossary or glean meaning from the context.
The early part of the story felt a little choppy and it took some time to get into which character was which. Perhaps it is me, but I kept forgetting that the story is written from the first person perspective. As such, I had difficulty knowing whose thoughts I was dealing with. This did not spoil my reading once the plot began to coalesce. The characterisation is a pleasure. Each person has a unique and welcome richness.
The lead character begins as a real douche, but this is explained through reminiscences rather than actuality. Thankfully, his actual behaviour is a pleasant surprise, mostly to himself. Despite the potential for bawdiness in the situation, there is a sweetness to the emotions expressed and although there is no explicit sexual behaviour the air seems redolent with it.
The story seems longer than it is. This is meant in a good way as the reader is drawn into the tale in order to glean as much as you can. The story is quite simple and the pace not overly fast, but with sufficient momentum to keep the reader interested.
As with so many short stories, the story ends too quickly. It just gets interesting and the reader fully invested in the characters and the tale ends. I hope the author is able to return to these characters soon.