In Beneath the Surface
, we see the gang kicking their heels back in stowaway fashion on a steamboat leisurely making its way back to the capital. As expected, when they don't go looking for trouble, trouble finds them. They discover a cache of deadly weapons hidden away on the boat and make it their mission to take them out of the equation.
Yara takes the co-pilot's seat in this story, and it's a little bit of a shame that she only gets a novella (granted, it is a pretty long novella, and completely worth it). It's interesting to see the characters from a relative stranger's eyes. After the events and revelations of the previous book, Yara is deliberating on whether or not to continue with the outlaw group, now that they're not, strictly speaking, on the right side. It doesn't help that Maldynado has made her the object of his amorous attentions, which she secretly returns but has no faith in. Once again the victim of his own tendency to encourage people to have the lowest expectations of him, Maldynado has to work pretty hard to win her over. It takes a horde of hostile Enforcers and a chilly river dunking, but no one leaves unsatisfied. ;)
On that matter, you know, I'm pretty sure that fifth star is for the smokestack makeout scene alone. When I think of the actual circumstances of making out in a narrow vertical pipe, there shouldn't be any way that it isn't anything but comedy, but Amaranthe and Sicarius totally nail it and set me to swooning in public. Fifth star, well deserved.
We also get to spend more time with Sespian, who is quite possibly the unluckiest kid ever. Having survived years of poisoning by his most trusted adviser, a nearly botched escape plan from a moving train, and a perilous journey under Maldynado's questionable leadership with an evil underground organization plotting to overthrow his rule, he now reels from the discovery that his father is the assassin who probably plagued his nightmares all throughout his childhood, and that he has no real right to the throne he's trying so hard to protect. And also that the love of his life is romantically involved with said nightmare assassin, for the proverbial cherry on top. I mean, cut him a break, Lindsay Buroker. Sespian's a trooper, though, and emerges from this series of incredibly unfortunate events older and somewhat wiser.
Also watching him and Sicarius attempt to bond is hilarious.
Now that we've reached the point where the next book is the beginning of the end, I've decided to slow things down. The next book is a two-parter, the second half of which isn't due to be out until possibly August. And if the cliff-hanger is anything like the end of Conspiracy
, I don't think I'll be able to handle the wait. So Beneath the Surface
is an excellent place to stop.