The Sting of Victory by SD Simper is the first book in the Fallen Gods series. It is a dark fantasy with a fiery romance and it is absolutely unforgettable.
Thousands of years ago, Chaos used powerful orbs to cause The Convergence of Planes, forcing several planes of existence together into one world, destroying the old Gods and bringing magic to the land. Demons, monsters, new gods and creatures of all sorts were forced to coexist in this new world. Many of the orbs were lost over time but a few remain in the hands of world leaders.
Flowridia is the daughter of Odessa the Swamp Witch. Raised by a monster, she is trained as a dark protégé, witnessing and participating in horrifying acts and enduring terrible abuse at the hands of her mother until she escapes. She is found and taken in by the beautiful and carousing Celestial, Etolie and joins the royal council of Staelash, eventually becoming the Grand diplomat.
Lady Ayla Darkleaf is the vampiric Grand Diplomat of Nox’Kartha sent to Staelash to forge a diplomatic union between the two realms. A calculating mistress of seduction, she sets her sights on the enamoured and naïve young diplomat from Staelash.
When those known to hold the few remaining orbs are attacked by a mysterious warrior, Flowridia and the council must uncover not only who he is, but what he plans to do with the orbs. Thrust into the machinations of politics and war, Flowridia must maintain a precarious balance between duty and her heart. A battle is brewing and the fate of the world is at stake, but is anything more important than true love?
I love great characterization and the characters in this book blew me away. There is a vast supporting cast of well fleshed out, diverse characters. Each are compelling in their own way from the overindulgent Celestial, Etolie to the former slave and Flowridia’s surrogate father figure, Thalmus to the stoic and brave warrior Khastra. For such a large and varied cast, Simper does a great job bringing individuality and uniqueness to each of them.
Flowridia is so captivating she has been permanently etched into my heart and mind. She is so vividly depicted through a combination of insight into her thoughts and perfectly interwoven flashbacks into her past, that I felt truly connected to her. I am awestruck by the complexity of her character. She is an incredible melding of naïve and sensitive, a vegetarian that uses her powers to help plants grow, yet she has also committed unspeakable atrocities in her past under her mother’s direction. It is heartbreaking to watch her wrestle with the guilt and remorse of her past and how it shapes the way she views and interacts with the present.
Lady Ayla Darkleaf is the Grand Diplomat of Nox’Kartha. Incredibly graceful, mysterious and dangerously sensual, she exudes confidence and power. She is also a vampire; cunning, fierce and ruthless when necessary. She is the quintessential ice queen when we first meet her and has also been shaped by her dark past of violence and abuse.
Flowridia is instantly attracted to the grace and dark mystique of Ayla. Her innocence in some respects is a stark contrast to Ayla’s brutality but the similarities of their pasts work to create a deep and powerful bond. Their romance is a brilliant combination of darkness and sweetness with some incredible power play dynamics. It is a domination that begins with a game (or 10) of chess, becomes a game of seduction, and then evolves into so much more. And damn it is hot!
The Writing Style
The pacing for the most part gallops along at a breathtaking speed. There is a time where it slows slightly as you absorb all there is to learn about the plethora of characters and the physical and political structure of the intricate world Simper has created. The world building is so layered and complex it demands you slow down and focus to fully grasp it all. But it is so worth it, as you become completely immersed in the fantastical realm full of witches, demons, royalty, gods, elves, vampires and more. The pace quickly picks up speed again until you find yourself gritting your teeth and holding your breath until your heart feels like it will burst.
Simper’s linguistic flow is majestic as it weaves you through the past and present with vivid imagery, that engages all the senses and characters that drag you through the full gamut of emotions. The dialogue ranges from intensely emotional to hysterical to incredibly steamy and the plot has some great twists.
Simper has created a brilliant combination of gruesomely dark fantasy and scorching romance. The protagonists are both so flawed, you are at once drawn to and repelled by them. Simper takes the idea of grey morality and writes it to perfection. The characters are so well realized, and you end up feeling completely torn up inside rooting for their happiness despite some of the things they’ve done.
I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of the cover. I don’t think it adequately conveys the darkness of the story. Also, readers should be wary of content pertaining to trauma, spousal abuse, cannibalism and the imprisonment and psychological abuse of a child by her mother.
Once I started reading this book, I just couldn’t put it down. This is a story rife with magic, politicking, monsters, epic battles, death and destruction, and yet it somehow also manages to squeeze in some sizzling sex and a very poignant romance. I am one-clicking the second book in the series stat! If you are a fan of fantasy, you have to read this!
Excerpt from The Sting of Victory by SD Simper
“Do we all know the story of the convergence?”
“No one knows the origin of the orbs, but there are six all together, each providing balance, much like the Old Gods who wielded them. In the time before The Covergence of Planes, some ten thousand years ago, the Gods of Order and Chaos gave them to dragons to aid in protecting our world. But we also know that Chaos, out of boredom or spite – no one knows – used the orbs to smash the worlds together and cause the Convergence. The orbs are why we coexist with Celestiere and Sha’Demoni, why we cohabitate with races never meant for our world, and the origin of magic within our realm. Her folly, and the Old Gods’ subsequent deaths, ushered in the new era of gods – those powered by belief, and thus godlike, but not true Gods.” Lara managed to smile despite the grim mood. “Though I suppose it is blasphemous to suggest it.
“The orbs are unique,” she continued, “because they do not merely channel magical energy. They can grant power, yes, but the source of that power is infinite, and the power drawn leaves no weakness to the wielder. In the hands of someone like my father, it would offer limitless capacity for absorption, but when wielded against him, it became his downfall.”
Lara spared a glance for the orb in her hand and then offered it to Marielle. “We know only the location of three of the orbs. We have one, the mad-man holds the other, and Archbishop Xoran of the Theocracy of Sol Kareena holds the third. The other three have never been found.”
“So what do we do?” Marielle asked.
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The Sting of Victory
Among Gods and Monsters
Blood of the Moon (coming soon)
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781732461123
- Publisher: Endless Night Publications
- SD Simper Online
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