When two warriors love, sparks will always fly.
After a long hiatus of life craziness and mediocre books, I am finally able to sink my teeth into another of Elizabeth Hunter’s masterpieces! As with her other works, I had a difficult time restraining myself from devouring it in one sitting. In this particular instance, there is much to reflect upon and process, so taking time to stop and ponder was a good thing – even if I wanted to keep reading!
Set in the Irin World, The Staff and the Blade follows the tumultuous and powerful relationship between Sari and Damien that spans hundreds of years. Their story is one of endurance; a love that, even when they cannot stand to look each other in the eye for all the pain and anger, is still all-encompassing. This book follows them through hopeful beginnings, gut-wrenching loss and separation, and the rebuilding of fractured hearts.
If you are not familiar with the Irin Chronicles, I recommend you read them first. Though much of the magic, lore, and history are explained in brief, I believe it would be difficult to be as profoundly moved as I was without the depth of knowledge and world-building gained from reading the other books. The story is separated into four distinct parts. Some world events are covered in the first Irin books, but this book gives significant depth and perspective to those events and conversations. Since most of the world-events are not surprises if you have read the other books, here is a brief overview of what to expect (without spoilers).
Part 1 introduces a very young and naive Sari to the broken warrior Damien. We see the depth of their relationship and gain an understanding of how connected they are.
Part 2 (The Rending) – spoken of at-length in the first Irin Chronicles (in past tense), but reading about the first person experience rips your heart out. Truly.
Part 3 (Reconciliation) – after losing everything in the Rending (including themselves) we get to see Sari and Damien begin to heal as the Irin world gets turned upside down.
Part 4 (Moving Forward) – War, revelations, and aftermath of rebuilding and re-evaluating old political ideals; challenging closely held beliefs and changing the world for the better.
Given the state of our current political and social environment, all I want is to disappear into a world of fantasy and pretend that everything will be okay. This book definitely takes you away, but it certainly has moments where you wonder if everything will ever be alright again. Though there is much darkness in this story, it is evident that love and hope are sometimes all we have, and that is enough to build on. Cherish it!