Once again, Lindsay Buroker excites and enthralls with her third book in the Emperor's Edge series. Deadly Games
returns to Amaranthe and her merry gang of ruffians as the Turgonian version of the Olympics looms ahead. Athletes are vanishing from their bunkers, snoopy reporters are getting their flirt on, krakens are hanging out in freshwater lakes, sexy assassins are getting jealous -- what's going on? It's up to Amaranthe and the Emperor's Edge to get to the bottom of things -- and they do, almost literally.
I think it was a wise decision on Buroker's part to remove Sicarius from a greater portion of the events in this story. Delightful as he is to have around (more for the readers and less for Maldynado and the others), he does tend to be a crutch Amaranthe often leans on. His almost inhuman skill and strength almost function as a deus ex machina in certain situations, so it was great to see Amaranthe get on without him. And seeing him again --
Well. Thank you for tossing us that bone, Ms. Buroker. And keeping that bone, err, bare until the very end. So to speak. Yes. Ahem.
It was also great to get inside Basilard's head. He seems to be the most easygoing of the group, but still waters run deep, as the saying goes. His alienation from his fellow Mangdorians and his discovery of Sicarius's mission in his country sets him down the path make him a ripe character to delve into. I liked the way he and Sicarius came to an understanding -- it seems to me that he is the character in the group most likely to become something of a friend to Sicarius, and not just because he'll never talk the man's ear off.
Deret Mancrest is a new character, and one I hope we'll be seeing further down the line. He runs the Empire's newspaper and proves to be an excellent source of information. Most importantly, though (at least, for us romantics), his interest in Amaranthe finally causes Sicarius to get off his butt and do something. That part was almost as exciting as the kraken fight.
There are a few lose ends that remain, though. The book never really answers who the masterminds of the nefarious baby-making plot are (or, on a minor note, says what happens to the garbagemen who were tied up in the back of the cab Amaranthe crashed into a steam carriage. Did they die?). There's no real villain in this story, only a gaggle of magic practitioners and Taloncrest, who is so easily dispatched he hardly seems like much of an antagonist. And what happens to the babies they were growing, or the athletes they must have impregnated? The military had control of the laboratory and yet they let it slip back to the bottom of the lake, so what became of the experiments? And where did that Kraken come from?
So many questions, but it's difficult to say anything bad about this book. It's fun, it's shocking, it's thrillingly romantic.