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"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." - Oscar Wilde

Nor Iron Bars a Cage

Nor Iron Bars a Cage - Kaje Harper

5 fantastic fantastical stars!

Oh dear, this was GOOOD. Color me amazed!

Let me explain why I'm so surprised and blown away by this story, and why I was very hestitant to pick it up. First of all, I am not a huge fan of the cover. I know, I know! Don't judge a book by it's cover. I really don't. But I can't help it, I do tend to pick up a book sooner if I really like the cover. Ergo, when I'm really not happy with a book cover, the blurb has to make up for it or else I'll probably have it sitting on my TBR shelf for a long time. Not proud of it, but that's what it is. Thank god, the blurb here was very good! A former sorcerer, trapped in his self-imposed isolation is forced to face his past, and conquer his future after being summoned by the King.

Which brings me to my second "issue". I like the fantasy genre a lot, but I'm always a little... cautious when I pick up a story written by an author I'm not familiar with in this particular genre. Because fantasy is not easy to write, and I tend to be a little nit-picky. The art of creating a new world, building it in a believable and comprehensible way, AND adding an intriguing plot with three-dimensional characters to the mix, is something that not every author is good at. Especially when they only have a month and a half to do it.

And then there came Kaje Harper. Boy, did she pull it off and pull it off good. This story was absolutely amazing on many different levels. Harper's writing has been a favorite of mine for a long time now. She's just really, really good at what she does, and it always shows. She gets the tone and pace right, every story has its' own style, but you always recognize her hand in it. Her characters are three-dimensional, with flaws and strenghts and weaknesses. So loveable, all of them! What really knocked me over here though, was her ability to create an alternative world that made sense and that I understood, without adding a very lenghty description of every little detail. It all just fell into place as the story wore on and I loved it!

Lyon's story, while absolutely heart-breaking, was very emotional but hopeful at the same time. There are some dark themes included here, but the overall tone of the story was not dark or depressing. On the contrary, the slow and careful development of a relationship and Lyon's hard fight out of his own personal hell were timed perfectly, carefully crafted and so believeable. Tobin, too, was a gem. So patient, sweet and understanding. Full of love, strenght, respect and commitment. I adored him, and I loved him and Lyon together.

I don't want to talk about the story more then I already have, because there are some big surprises here and an unbelievably good Bang! at the end. It's such a pleasure to read the action scenes, because Kaje Harper has them down pat. I can only say: READ IT! Seriously, if you like hurt/comfort, a wonderfully wholesome fantasy world, and the sweetest love between two complex men, PICK. THIS. UP. I promise, you won't be disappointed!