Tournament of Shadows

Tournament of Shadows - S.A. Meade This book was provided by Signal Boost Promotions and read on behalf of Thorns & Ink.

This is a superb and beautiful story. Oh, the research into this. Simply perfect. This is my first encounter with Ms. Meade’s work and I am a new fan. Her command of storytelling should be lauded. I could smell the cherry blossom honey and the desert wind. There is no place like the sand box (I have been there.) This story brought memories of the first time I heard the call to prayer in Doha. It was so beautiful. I hadn’t thought about that in years. The descriptions of the food alone where inspiring. I could feel the weariness of the travel. The soft Irish brogue and a heavy Russian accent played in my head supremely well. I could hear them so clearly. This is the way historical fiction should be. There is something to be said about being given enough physical characteristics to create the leading men of one’s dreams.

Without calling out the plot, I want to address something I rarely see done so well. Valentin shows signs of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Ms. Meade handles this so fucking well. As someone with PTSD, I am extraordinarily sensitive to how it is portrayed. She portrays the fear, panic, and heartache (of the caregiver) with such humility and understanding. For that alone, I want to thank her.

Gabriel and Valentin. How I ached for them. The weariness of their professions weighed heavy as I was reading. I wanted so many things for them as I travelled with them. I wanted them to have peace. I wanted them to have happiness. I wanted them to love.

Love, peace, and solace. Any warrior knows that when the battles are done, those are the only things left. She captured it so well. Gabriel, with his Irish sensibilities did not fall in love. There was none of that for him. Lust yes, but there was no immediacy in love for him. Valentin, he was in love at first kiss. With all the passion that a Russian can bring, he wanted Gabriel beyond lust. He let him know this too. He set to the task of wooing him. Offering all of the things any battle weary soldier would want.

After the battles are fought and the wars are done, it is time to go home.