Allegra's letter to the Holy father asking to find an Arbiter that can help stop wars instead of more tension results in her being brought further into a world she strives to stay away from. To stop the rebellion of the mages against the people who have enslaved them, hoping to prevent an all out war between the states that the country couldn't survive, Allegra takes the position she knows will destroy her in the end. But she can't stand seeing the injustice any longer and accepts the position as Arbiter. Allegra will fight many hatreds and prejudices against mages and elementals, to be threatened again and again, to bring freedom and peace to all. Allegra also learns that the stories of the demons locked out of this word is true. Allegra will have to trust those she never thought she would, hoping they won't turn on her, to help keep her greatest secret and fight against threats of man and demon.
Krista starts us off quick with the brutal reality of the elementals - witches and mages. They stay in hiding and never show their ability for they will be sent to the mines or worse, killed. We see Walter fleeing from an underground network of tunnels in what was thought a safe house, until the General and his troops arrive to take in the Lady of the home as a needed elemental. This sets the stage of how mages and elementals are treated and the feel of why a rebellion is stewing.
Krista has done well creating a cast of characters I enjoy reading. They all interact well together and have sense of humor. I do enjoy this in Krista's writing and I read though the book faster. We start off with a small moment that made me smile about looking for the Captains' button in the stable. This sets the personalities of the crew I come to enjoy. And Pope Francois's husband, Pero, feels to have a light felt humor I enjoyed but he's also very emotional feeling about how things should be.
Krista has a masterful touch to her writing. She easily blends fun with serious topics. This story is much more than meets the eye when you start it. It centers around slavery and treatment of slaves. The slaves are those who are accused of being elementals and mages, this does not always mean they are as people get mad at someone and this is their way to have them eliminated. The world fears them and sees them as different so they are cruel and worse to all people who are, or are thought to fall, in the mage category. Allegra helps to free those like her, mages and elementals. She wants to educate the poor born mages so they can control their powers and do more than what they are forced to do.
Allegra is in a position and ranking that she might be able to help those she's been trying to with her money for years. She's a contessa and a mage, with a bigger secret. But she fears for her own control of her ability and what will be done to her if they find out her secret. She tries to help from the sidelines, but quickly learns that's not the same as doing what can be done in the open. I do enjoy her spark and drive though. She's a brilliant woman and it shows in her discussions...minor disputes...with others.
I am absolutely and totally invested in these characters! This book held my attention, and kept me coming back. I enjoyed the interactions of the characters. We have Allegra and Captain Stanton who both have pasts and secrets they don't want anyone to know about. Then there's Lex and Dodd, two lieutenants in charge under Stanton. They are a hoot when they appear on the page. I have enjoyed them both throughout the book. Lex is a different character for me to read, special in his own way. Lex seems to be many people in one and references himself as they. I really like that Lex is different, and accepted. All these relationships grow and strengthen with Allegra as the story goes, and my love for them all grows as well.
There is a growing love that we witness through the book. And it feels natural and innocent. I loved this creation through all they live through. This is a couple that should be together!
The ending had me neeeeeding the next book. I get the feel the world has destroyed the one thing that can help them in the dire times that are to come, and those that treated these people terribly are going to regret it. I sooooo am looking forward to The Nightmares We Know.