Book Reviews

Under the Rushes by Amy Lane at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Steampunk / Warriors/Soldiers / Romance / Action/Adventure / Drama
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 03-January-2013

Book Blurb

Ten years after Dorjan trusted a boy’s word over his superior officer’s, he and his best friend, Areau, are still living the aftermath—and trying to stop the man responsible. Locked in a careful dance to bring down a corrupt government, Dorjan struggles to balance his grief with Areau’s anger. Just when Dorjan reaches the end of his rope, he sees a familiar face in the shadows, and the boy he trusted a decade before offers him unexpected kindness.

Taern remembers the soldier who found him under the rushes and listened to his pleas to save his family. When Dorjan reappears in his life, Taern is both captured by his commitment to justice and terrified by the risks he takes. All Taern wants to do is fix him, but the oncoming destruction has been ten years in the making, and Dorjan doesn’t want his help. Not if it puts Taern at risk.

Powers clash and a world's fate dangles between Areau's madness and Dorjan's nobility. While Dorjan fights to save the world, Taern joins the battle simply to save Dorjan, knowing everything hinges on the heart of a man in armor and the strength of the man who loves him.

Book Review

“Sometimes it is necessary to do the wrong things for the right reasons. The important thing is to be sure that our reasons are right, and that we admit the wrong.that we do and not lie to ourselves, and convince ourselves that what we do is right." Khader Kahn – Shantaran

As with many things in life, it's the intent of our actions, not the actions themselves that matter. Dorjan makes a decision when he is only nineteen years old which changes the course of his life forever. Even at that early age, he realizes that his views and those of others are infinitely different. Dorjan plots a long, painful course in his determination to make things right again, one that almost destroys him.

Dorjan (Dori) has been raised by a loving, supportive family who have taught him to be fair and just and to value life in all forms. But when faced with a situation which is clearly immoral, his belief system is challenged, he becomes severely disillusioned, and his world is turned upside down. In the process, his best friend, Areau (Ari), is all but mentally and physically destroyed and Dorjan becomes his caregiver. It's not an easy task considering Ari is filled with bitterness, hate, and pain. He pulls Dori into his perversion and creates a miserable scenario for both of them. Dori, in his infinite patience and desire to help his friend, puts aside his feelings and tries to accommodate Ari. All Dori wants is for his friend to be well and happy, regardless of the havoc trying to get him there wreaks on his own psyche.

On top of that, after his father is assassinated, his friend Ari turns him into an almost unstoppable fighting machine so Dori can avenge his father's murder. He inadvertently becomes an protector of the weak which further corrodes his soul. It's a catch 22 situation, one which doesn't appear to have a resolution, that is, until Dori runs into Taern, the young boy, now grown, he believed over his superior officers ten years before. Taern shows him so much kindness and consideration that Dori begins to slowly put things in perspective. When Taern realizes what's actually happening, his goal becomes helping Dori see that he's lovable and capable of loving. Taern becomes his sidekick in defending the innocent and saves his life literally and figuratively.

I felt sorry for Ari, for all his genius, he was lost in a world of pain and self deprecation. His entire world was shattered by being tortured and broken by the men who were supposed to be on his side. He and Dori have been friends since childhood and at times that part of him peeks out from under the madness, but mostly, he's a twisted mess of negative confusion and he takes it out on Dorjan. He loves and hates his best friend and in his haze of pain, he wants him to suffer right along with him. He demands unspeakable things of him, knowing that Dori loves him and that it will break his heart, but also knowing that, because of Dori's loyalty and guilt for getting him in this situation, he will do whatever he asks. The problem is, Dori is not his solution, not his path to getting better. Hope comes to him from an unusual source, Kristen, a prostitute who is also a dominatrix, someone who can help him sort out his addiction to pain and gain control of himself, if only he allows it.

This is an amazing tale of conflicting emotions, where each person searches for his or her own form of redemption. It's a love story, sometimes in its rarest form, beautiful, painful, forgiving, understanding, and honest. I normally shy away from Steampunk stories, because I generally don't understand them, but in this case, I did. Amy introduces the character and background information as it's needed; she doesn't overwhelm us with too many details at once. The world building in this story is marvelous. Its clarity provides us with the opportunity to comprehend their environment, people, customs, and language, which leads to further insight into their motives and actions. Needless to say, I was enthralled by this tale. I'd recommend it to everyone with a spirit of adventure who enjoys Steampunk, fantasy, hard-earned respect and love, told in a realistic manner in which the characters all find their own variety of peace. Amy, my hat goes off to you; thanks for this marvelous, intricate, complicated tale.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook, print and audio
Length Novel, 340 pages/129602 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 21-December-2012
Price $6.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback, $17.99 bundle, $24.95 audiobook
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