“Loneliness was a small price to pay for staying alive.”
At the end of one world, there always lies another.
Safire, a soldier, knows her role in this world is to serve the King of Firgaard—helping to maintain the peace in her oft-troubled nation.
Eris, a deadly pirate, has no such conviction. Known as the Death Dancer for her ability to evade even the most determined of pursuers, she possesses a superhuman power to move between worlds.
When one can roam from dimension to dimension, can one ever be home? Can love and loyalty truly exist?
Now Safire and Eris—sworn enemies—find themselves on a common mission: to find Asha, the last Namsara. From the port city of Darmoor to the fabled faraway Star Isles, their search and their stories become woven ever more tightly together as they discover the uncertain fate they’re hurtling towards may just be a shared one. In this world—and the next.
DISCLAIMER: I received a finished copy from Wunderkind PR in exchange for an honest review.
CW: graphic injury, gore, animal abuse, violence, child abuse, implied sexual assault, torture, child death, loss of a loved one, human trafficking
Of all three books in the Iskari trilogy, I’m pleased to say that The Sky Weaver is my favorite. Is it partly because this is f/f between a lawful good soldier and a chaotic neutral pirate, because it’s literally a perfect comp title for one of my projects? Well, yes, a little bit.
But it’s also because this is the Iskari book I’ve felt the most immersed in, had the most fun with, and that counts for a lot.
Alternating between the POVs of Safire and Eris, The Sky Weaver sees our two heroines in search of the same thing: Asha, the Namsara. They both have very different reasons, of course, which leads to enemies to lovers (Ciccarelli does seem to have a fondness for this trope, not that I can even blame her), and they also have very different methods. While Safire places all her trust in the law and the justice it’s meant to provide, Eris knows better than to trust anyone but herself if she wants to survive.
Once again, Kristen Ciccarelli brings her prose mastery to the table, plus her skill in weaving shorter scenes into the greater narrative. I’ve mentioned this in my past two Iskari reviews, and it’s worth mentioning again, given how outstanding it is. If nothing else, this series is a treasure trove of well-deployed prose.
The Sky Weaver also finally finds its stride with character depth, in my eyes. I really enjoyed watching Eris and Safire wrestle with the things they believed were right, and the way of the world as it was. Not only that, but we get cameos from other key characters in the series, and there’s a couple scenes about how important their relationships are, and how critical it is to trust one another, especially when circumstances seem most dire. While the previous two books didn’t quite reach my minimum for character engagement, I felt far more invested in the cast this time around.
There’s also two more major positives. One of them is the strength of the thematic anchors. For one, there’s an element of mortality in the face of immortality, and I just eat that up, no hesitation. For some reason, the idea of perfectly normal humans staring down ageless, eternal power is CAPTIVATING, especially when there’s a sliver of hope that once, just this once, the humans might win. Sign me up wherever this is a major theme.
But the second positive is that I FINALLY enjoyed the romance. Is it one of my top favorites? No, because I think it would be even more fascinating with more time to develop. The drawbacks of a self-contained story that’s not quite 400 pages, it seems. However, this time, the romance was between two characters who played off of one another very well, and ended up finding equal footing and mutual attraction after their enemies to lovers style start.
A round of applause for making this romance Grinch enjoy a romantic subplot! Woo!
Despite this, though, there was still some content that left me disappointed, holding me back from a full five star rating and the joy of raving about it like I do my other five star reads. The smaller obstacle is simply the length of the book. Without more time, we don’t get to explore the final scenes with too much depth (it really just kind of ends, and more abruptly than I’d like), and we leave some loose ends with only the barest hints at resolution. There’s a fill in the blanks element to it that I think could have done with a little more fleshing out, especially regarding one character that Eris finds herself dogged by.
The other thing that really threw me, though, was the interludes. Like the previous two books, the short interludes shed new light on the facets of the present timeline. This time, though, they tell the story of a god and how mortal influence changed him. And, in a move that reminds me of classical mythology but also grosses me out to no end, it features a god falling in love with a mortal woman that he met when she was a girl.
I just couldn’t get behind the way the god’s gradual development of humanity was rooted in falling in love with this girl over the years, and the way it was romanticized. It just…no. Nope, not a fan, not interested, not able to get behind it, even with that flavor of a legend that suggests only the tiniest pieces of it are true, and that the details exist just for a dash of flavor. I already hate immortals falling for teenage girls, and adding the layer of “this immortal has been watching this girl long before she was an adult before falling in love” is worse.
Plus, the layer of becoming human requiring the experience of romantic love? Hard pass from this aro, but that’s not even half as gross to me as ageless god in love with a girl, even with that veneer of myth smoothed on top to make it seem like some kind of romance of legends that is only true in the vaguest outlines.
So, for the most part, while The Sky Weaver appealed to me more than the other books in the Iskari trilogy, it had that glaring flaw in its interludes that shook my from my immersion in the story, leaving me feeling grossed out and unable to view the god in the interlude as the protag-supportive force that he was clearly being set up as for the final moments of payoff at the book’s end. That alone shifted my rating drastically, and I would feel bad if I didn’t mention it at the very least. It’s not something I would want to surprise any future readers with.