Sara Wolf

Adult Science Fiction Fantasy

Bravery isn’t what you do. It’s what you endure.

The duke of the powerful House Hauteclare is the first to die. With my dagger in his back.

He didn’t see it coming. Didn’t anticipate the bastard daughter who was supposed to die with her mother—on his order. He should have left us with the rest of the Station’s starving, commoner rubbish.

Now there’s nothing left. Just icy-white rage and a need to make House Hauteclare pay. Every damn one of them.

Even if it means riding Heavenbreaker—one of the few enormous machines left over from the War—and jousting against the fiercest nobles in the system.

Each win means another one of my enemies dies. And here, in the cold terror of space, the machine and I move as one, intent on destroying each adversary—even if it’s someone I care about. Even if it’s someone I’m falling for.

Only I’m not alone. Not anymore.

Because there’s something in the machine with me. Something horrifying. Something…more.

And it won’t be stopped.

-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.

Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.

My Opinion

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) The duke of House Hauteclare has made his last mistake. Sonali, his bastard daughter, kills him for trying to kill her. His people did succeed in killing her mother so revenge will be sweet. Now she takes this revenge to the House where each of them will die for supporting him. One of the only ways to do this is to ride Heavenbreaker in the tourney. It is a challenge in a large machine where jousting is the skill. Only nobles are allowed but through fortunate circumstances, she finds a way to compete.

Going up against nobles that have trained their entire life seems like the biggest challenge, but having different training as them actually became her secret weapon. She could compete and win in ways they had never seen. If this is the way to do it, she is determined to die trying.

“I will not die quietly. My death will be a blaze of revenge.”

The entire story is derived from revenge. This didn’t click with me. While I could see her reasons why, it always felt a bit trite. Revenge is an empty win. Sonali was so hard and callous that is made it hard to like her, let alone connect with her. It felt as if she had walls up around her at all times as to not let anyone or anything in. And I never quite understood her need for death? Why not succeed and live and shove it in their faces?

“Only a fool believes in anyone else’s measure of their worth.”

Her tenacity was astounding. She did not let anything get in her way. Add that to her ability to be shrewd and she made a formidable enemy. She was not just fighting to win, her deeper reasons meant much more than the title of “winner.”

I had a really hard time picturing these machines. The pictures of her face in the book showed a helmet that made me think the machines were a bit like Iron Man. However, there were comments about the large amount of room in them and other comments during some of the fighting that just amplified my confusion. And I never quite pictured space and how it “fit” in their world and tourney matches as I believe the author intended.

All in all, it was an entertaining read, even if it was excessively long in my opinion. The last few pages intrigued me enough to read book two and I can’t wait to see what happens next! It had hints of Hunger Games, Red Rising and a bit of Ashlords feel to the story so I recommend this to those that love those stories but also great perseverance.

General content summary: 

From author/publisher: grief, violence, murder, suicidal ideation and acts, hospitalization, drug use, poisoning, loss of autonomy, depictions of religious trauma, classism, depictions of sex work and drowning. Domestic violence and sexual abuse are mentioned. 

My content review: F words= 30

Murder (blood, no details, multiple, grief)

Prejudice (within societal classes/classism)

Sedative given unwillingly 

Physical child abuse (blood, throwing items, broken bones, multiple)

Child sexual abuse (referenced, multiple)

Assassin (deaths, some details, multiple)

References to working at a brothel 

Violence (broken bone as consequence, fighting, multiple)

Alcohol (multiple)

Drugs (multiple)

Coma due to tourney race

Copses seen without heads (no details, also corpses to be beheaded)

Earthquake-type disaster 

Injuries (caused by glass, blood)

M/F intimacy (kisses, some foreplay, naked bodies with no details)

Spaceship crash (many deaths)

Purposefully killing a small animal

Religion (good and bad aspects)

Suicide contemplation (few details)

Poisoning (mind altering)

Torture (some details, metal splinters under fingernails then stabbing, blood)

Corpse (blood, killing, few details)

Murder (house fire, many preserved bodies killed by one person, another with 3 people being killed, blood, parent killed with no details)

Captivity (cell)

Self injury (stabbing, previous)

**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

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