The Edge #4
Parallel world romantic fantasy
Steel's Edge is just as spellbinding as Ilona Andrews' other works. This book has everything: fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, monsters, chases, escapes, true love...
This book, and the series as a whole, are exceptionally difficult to classify. Let's just say they're fantasy that takes place across worlds with (the Weird and the Edge) and without (the Broken) magic, and they have a strong element of romance. In this final installment, Baroness Charlotte de Ney, a rare Healer, and Richard Mar, a swordsman, hunt down slavers in the Weird in an adventure that turns out to be much more than they expected.
Steel's Edge involves many characters from the previous books, but is more separate than many series conclusions. It takes place almost entirely in the Weird, with much more interaction with the nobility of Adrianglia than the previous books. Spider, the main villain in Bayou Moon and Fate's Edge, is surprisingly incidental to this story, but there is plenty of excitement to make up for it. Taking out the slavers involves lots of death, destruction, and horror, so it's really not a light read.
As if to compensate, Richard and Charlotte have perhaps the sweetest love story of the series. In a lot of "romance" novels (which isn't actually what I'd call this book, but we'll go with it for now), lust and love seem to get a little confused; you never hear the end of how attractive each character thinks the other is and how much they want to jump each others' bones, but fill-in-the-blank obstacle gets in the way. In this book, though, despite Charlotte and Richard's obvious attraction, it's really clear that they care deeply for one another.
One of the best parts of Ilona Andrews' writing in general is their attention to motivation. Every character acts in character all the time, and even the bad guys' decisions make sense, from an amoral standpoint. It's wonderful to read a book where the logic behind the Big Bad isn't "evil person is evil," something that happens depressingly often.
To me, this book is an excellent blend of romance and adventure. There's plenty happening all the time, so the romance doesn't get boring, and the adventure is dark enough that the romance is a welcome relief. I will pick up any book in this series again if I want something that is both exciting and sweet, and I highly recommend that you do too!