Jones begins this story just minutes after the conclusion to Bold as Love, such that I had to go back and read the last chapter of that book to make sense of this one. Which, to my mind, doesn’t happen very often; it made it feel like this was less a sequel, as such, and more a continuation of the same story. As it should be, I think.
*Spoilers here for Bold as Love*
I loved this novel. A lot. Maybe not quite as much as I loved the first one, because that was all bright and shiny and shocking and new… but it’s love nonetheless.
I still liked the characters. Fiorinda is a bit more grown up and less annoying baby-rock-princess; still vulnerable (if not as much as the boys think) and spiky with it; she’s not my favourite person to read but she is sympathetic. Mostly. Ax, now dictator of Britain in some sense (I found the politics a bit hard to follow, especially figuring out how the rocknroll counter-culture side fit in with the still-existant Westminster government), struggles believably with the difficulties of leadership and relationships. Sage… well, Sage was always going to be my favourite, but/and he gets darker here too. He struggles with love and with science-cum-magic, and with music, too.
The plot… well, it’s hard to go into it without being spoilery, which I would like to avoid. But there are metaphorical dragons that our heroes must confront: some political, especially in the form of neo-Celtic pagans who’ve read a bit too much about maybe-druids and their sacrifices; some personal, both in how to balance one relationship with another and how to balance any relationship with power and expectations. And then there’s the people who are actively trying to bring down this counter-culture, for their own political and personal reasons.
Look, it is wonderful. Not without flaws, and not without uncomfortable bits (those two not always the same); but it’s a fascinating view of the world and explores some provocative ideas for how to make the world a better place. Also, she brings the magical aspect just a little bit more into view…
For a spoilerific and eye-opening (for me) description of this novel, especially as it relates to Arthurian and medieval fantasy tropes, my hat goes off to the Wikipedia contributors for this novel. Well done indeed.