A Journey of the Heart by Catherine M. Wilson
In the second book of the series, Tamras continues her apprenticeship to Maara and becomes closer to Merin, the Lady of the house. Vintel, bearing a grudge against Tamras for refusing to be her apprentice, is threatened by Tamras’s growing status. Tamras and Maara face the prejudices of the people of Merin’s house and clash with Vintel as Merin’s ailing health pushes her to choose a successor.
Queer, fantasy (of a sort)
In Book II of the trilogy, Tamras 's apprenticeship as a warrior isn t turning out quite the way she expected. Her unconventional choices lead to her crossing swords, almost literally, with Vintel, the war leader of Merin 's house. She finds herself embroiled in a power struggle she is doomed to lose, but the loss sends her on a journey that will change her destiny and decide the fate of her people.
This was just as good as the first book, and is a direct continuation, like the second part to one large book. Tamras grows older in this coming-of-age narrative, and we see her start to come into her own as a warrior. The bond between her and Maara deepens, which I was eager to see. The loyalty they have for each other is wonderful and heartwarming; the highlight of the story.
The tension grows in this one, and the pacing picks up. There are several edge-of-your-seat moments, and I was so connected to the characters that I couldn’t stop reading until the resolution. I had to see it resolved, and walking away was out of the question.
The philosophical questions posed are interesting, as Tamras is faced with recognizing the humanity of her enemies while still having to fight them, often to the death. She tends to compassion, but a past betrayal of an alliance keeps the others in suspicion and they warn her against it. The struggle is visceral, and you can understand all sides of it.
As noted in my review of the first book, the author’s writing has a way of absorbing you completely into the setting. It feels so real that it’s strange to come back to the real world after finishing. I borrowed the last book from the library immediately afterward. I don’t want this series to end.
PS: A review on Goodreads says there are “too many lesbian encounters” in the story. I can’t think of a higher recommendation than that.