Mages, held captive since magic first manifested in the world, seek to break their chains. Sentinels, warriors with an unnatural immunity to magic, are oathbound to keep the magic-users prisoner – at any cost.
Kali, an atheist mage fleeing her painful past, travels to a powerful healer in Whitewater City, hoping to mend more than her broken heart. One of her sentinel escorts is Stonewall, a man left with only his faith after the death of his brother. But when monstrous bandits destroy Kali’s other escorts, the two unwitting companions must join forces to survive demonic creatures, bloodthirsty nomads, and a dangerous magic never seen before.
Meanwhile in Whitewater City, the sentinel commander struggles to keep control as the mages plan a daring escape.
Opposing worldviews collide in Catalyst Moon: Incursion, the first book a fantasy-romance series where magic is new and a mage rebellion is on the horizon.
Goodreads Link: Catalyst Moon: Incursion
Author: Lauren L. Garcia
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Rating: 4/5 stars
I was wary of a romance between a prisoner and a guard because of the power imbalance. Even though Kali is clearly interested in Stonewall and initiates a lot of the intimate moments between then, and their relationship is built out of mutual respect and understanding, it still has the potential to be inappropriate because he has authority over her. I will say that the author appears to be very careful to avoid any sense that Kali is being coerced or feels threatened by Stonewall, and the story isn’t trying to say that their relationship circumstances are ideal. I guess you can judge for yourself if you feel comfortable reading about this subject.
Otherwise, it’s an interesting story. In the beginning, I didn’t know much about how magic works or what the real cause of the threat could be. This is a mystery because the characters themselves are in the dark. Most questions are left to be answered in later books, so I already know that I want to continue reading this series and find out what happens.
The world is very developed with a lot of care put into making all of the characters have their own viewpoints for good reasons. No one is truly good or evil, there’s a reason why most people mistrust mages and want to see them locked up so the guards don’t seem all bad, even though I sympathized with Kali for her lack of freedom. The other characters were also well-developed. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Eris in the next book.
Representation: unlike some of the other books I’ve been reviewing, this book didn’t have any LGBT+ characters, at least none that were obvious. But the main character has a disability which added an extra dimension to the story. Kalinda was born with a knee malformation, and although she’s a mage, she can’t just fix herself or overcome her disability with her magic. She walks with a limp at the best of times and sometimes, especially when she’s tired or overworked, the whole leg gives out from under her. This is one more obstacle for her to overcome because it tends to happen at the worst possible times–like when she’s being pursued by murderous raiders.
My favorite meal: the honey cider sounded delicious and a great drink to warm up on a cold night!
Overall, this was a solid fantasy romance where the relationship took time to build up slowly in a satisfying and realistic way. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys slowburn romance, including fans of H. L. Burke, Tamora Pierce, and Terri Windling.
I also wanted to point out that this book (along with others that I’ve already reviewed and many more that I plan to read) is part of the SPFBO 5 99c sale! If you’ve been waiting to buy these books when they’re more affordable, now is the time to save money and grab them before the price goes up again! There may be another sale for SPFBO this cycle but probably not until next year.
If you like getting fantasy books on sale, you might also want to join The Frugal Unicorn! I send out weekly emails with several sales, free books, giveaways, and other fantasy deals.