I wanted to give this book a higher score because I really loved a lot of it. Unfortunately, I found myself getting far too annoyed at something that seems to be bringing down my opinions of a lot of books recently—the romance.
The romance between Akiva and Karou annoyed me in the first book, but the rest of the story was strong enough that it didn't bother me too much. But in this book, despite the romance taking more of a backseat to the plot, I just found myself getting annoyed over and over because I could not understand it. In the first book, it was pretty much instant lust that was depicted as insta-love, which is not my favorite thing. But then we get the reveal that(show spoiler)
And Karou understandably was horrified by this and rejected him because of it. But the book seems to be pushing for his redemption and for them to get back together, which I can't understand. Especially when we have Karou saying that she owes him so much near the end of the book. And I just don't get that. What does she owe him for?(show spoiler)
I just found myself unable to relate to Karou whenever Akiva came to mind, which sucked because I could really understand her in everything else. Just not that.
I really enjoyed the rest of the book. The horrors of war and its effects on everyone. The plotting for power and control. The struggle Karou had with balancing her desire for revenge with her desire for peace. I especially loved the character of Ziri, a chimaera who was the same type of chimaera that Madrigal had been.(show spoiler)
It's really just the romance I have problems with. It hijacked the plot in the first book, and, although it doesn't pop up as often, it still felt like it carried more weight than all the deaths and the war going on whenever it did make an appearance. And I just don't like that.