Reviewed by Tori (Vicki)
TITLE: Fires of Ballian
SERIES: The Draegan Lords #3
AUTHOR: M.L. Rhodes
PUBLISHER: Kellesborne Press
LENGTH: 190 pages
RELEASE DATE: August 19, 2017
A hundred years ago, the high sorcerer of Velensperia launched a swift and deadly attack against the draegans—a race of dragon shapeshifters who’d always lived in harmony with the humans. The draegans were all but destroyed, with the few who remained, scattered and in hiding. But after a century of cruel repression, a group of them have united and begun to fight back. Their leader, Keiran Hareldson, is determined to free his people from the high sorcerer’s tyranny. For years he hid the secret of his heritage, knowing the truth would make him and those around him a target of the sorcerer’s wrath. But the time has come to fight the sorcerer in the open, and once the news spreads that Keiran is the sole surviving draegan lord, draegans and humans alike begin to flock to the draegan camp for protection.
Gaige Rizik used to be the captain of the sorcerer’s High Guard. His last assignment was to infiltrate the draegan rebel’s camp, identify the leader, and eliminate him. No one, least of all him, expected him to fall in love with the very man he’d sworn to kill. Gaige defects to the draegans’ side, and he and Keiran bind themselves to one another not only by love, but by blood when they go through the true mate ritual. With their blood merged, it allows Gaige to inherit the powerful magick of the draegan lords. But inheriting it and using it are two different things. Gaige has trouble tapping into the magick because he feels unworthy of the gift. Only half-draegan, he fears his human side and his past as the high sorcerer’s right hand will forever tarnish his future as Keiran’s mate and second in command.
When Keiran is stolen by an ancient demon from the shadow world, Gaige is left with the fate of the draegan people in his hands. They turn to him as their new lord, and he’s torn between his duty to them, and his desperate need to find his mate. Through shadow and torment, fire and darkness, Gaige and Keiran struggle to hold back the tide of the sorcerer’s ever-expanding war and stop the new and even deadlier evil that threatens their lands. In their darkest hour, only their fierce love for one another, and Gaige’s acceptance of his power, stand between them and the destruction of all they know.
FIRES OF BALLIAN was previous published. This new, second edition has been revised since its original release, with approximately 10,000 new words added.
Please see my reviews of the previous two books in this series for the full details about who these amazing characters are….. book #1 True of Heart, and book #2 Lords of Kellesborne. I’ll just get right to the good stuff with this one!
I try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but something that happened in Lords of Kellesborne has a huge impact on this book. So be warned, if you haven’t read that one, there be spoilers here….
Byram, the nasty sorcerer attempting to take over Valensperia has apparently been feeding souls/energy of draegans to a death demon named Moh’dredion. Moh’dredion has developed a fondness for draegan lords, and Keiran is the last one. So at the end of the last book, Keiran was snatched by Moh’dredion, and has been residing in the shadow world. Gaige is convinced he’s not dead, since they are true mates, and he would know, but he hasn’t been able to figure out how to get to Keiran. He is even more convinced when he “hears” Keiran speak to him, and with the help of a potion, is able to visit Keiran in his dreams. Keiran is happy to see him, and we get a lovely reunion scene, but it is short lived. Gaige then dedicates some thought and energy to solving this issue and getting his lover back to him. But things are never easy, and more bad shit is happening in Valensperia than the draegans knew about initially, and Gaige is drawn in to that battle, as the defacto leader of the draegans now that Keiran is gone. Gaige is torn between his need to defend his new family, and his need to rescue his mate.
We also see the return of a draegan named Jax, who caused much drama earlier in the series. Jax may be having a bit of a redemption, but we’ll have to wait to see how that goes. We also see the blossoming of some love between two dreagans, Wen and Wesley.
After some research and thought, Gaige is eventually able to make some headway on solving his Keiran dilemma. And after some exploration and discussion with his lead draegans, he is able to put plans together in case he doesn’t make it back from his attempt to rescue Keiran…. ominous right? I know! But that’s all I’ll say about that!
This was a very solid addition to the continuing story of Gaige and Keiran, and the only reason I didn’t give it a higher rating is that the two spend most of the book apart. Yes, I understand why, and it is part of the overall plot that works very well, but it’s hard to judge a romantic book when the main characters are apart for 3/4 quarters of the book. There is limited sex between them, and limited time to bond as a couple. What there is, is fan-freaking-tastic. If I think of this book as a continuation of Lords of Kellesborne, and not as a separate book, I’d probably give it more hearts. But it’s not, it’s written as its own book, and I look for certain things in books; Plot, which was great. Writing, which was also great. Characters, which I love. Sex, which was lacking due to their separation. Emotional bond, which was certainly there, but hard since they were apart so much. Ending… I can’t say! It’s always hard for me to rate books smack in the middle of a continuing series, when some things are resolved, but new things are added. So basically I loved it, but I need the story to continue to grow and evolve, and I can’t wait to see what happens when Keiran and Gaige are together for more than a dozen pages!
The next book due out takes a turn to different characters, I remember having some disappointment when that happened the first time I read this series. I liked Wen and Wesley just fine, but I’m really all about Kerian and Gaige. Anything that delays getting more of those two in my hands is going to cause me some stress! I think there may be two books for Wen and Wesley, only one of which was ever published. So maybe we have to wait for one book to be revised and one new book to be finished, before we get the real payoff! A NEW KEIRAN AND GAIGE BOOK!! Yes, I’m a bit excited about that. Ridiculously excited. I’ve been waiting since 2010, and I see a light at the end of the tunnel.
I am a big fan of this series, it’s an excellent example of gay romantic fantasy. You have to read them in order, or you will be lost. This is not a standalone book. Go get the first one and give it a try, these guys are amazing!