Review: Emerald Blaze
Thursday, November 17, 2022

Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy, #5)Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the kind of story I love to find when I open an urban fantasy novel. Magic, intrigue, multifaceted characters, intense action, and just a splash of romance. Andrews' masterful world building creates a colorful and rich history for a world not unlike our own. Because I did not realize when I picked this book up that it was part of a larger series, I was definitely missing some information, especially where the characters were concerned. That said, I had no problem following along and inferring the events of the previous books. It was still a wonderful and satisfying read.

This book is written from the perspective of the main character, Catalina Baylor. She's a Prime, meaning super-powerful magic user, and the head of a House, a magical family with political sway. Having missed the first 5? books in this series, I can't guess if she was the protagonist of the others or not, but she was fierce and intelligent, and I found it easy to relate to her from the very beginning. Her backstory is revealed in pieces throughout the book, so I was never left in the lurch.

My only complaint would be that there were so many characters thrown at me so early on. Again, this may be an effect of starting mid-series. Perhaps all these characters were introduced more slowly in earlier books. I don't know. But I did stumble several times in trying to keep track of who was who in the large cast of people both present and referenced.

The action/mystery plot was fun and fast-paced. Catalina uses her head as much as her swords to solve her problem, and while the climax might come down to an all-out battle of strength and will, I enjoyed puzzling through the twists and turns with her.

On the romance front, I found this book to be *almost* the perfect amount for me. I'm not a big romance reader, so while I enjoy romantic arcs and interactions, I don't like that to take center stage over the story. Catalina clearly had some serious history with Alessandro, the love interest in this book, and that creates a wonderful tension between the characters. I *think* these two got together in a previous book, but I don't know for sure. I was given just enough backstory to paint a decent picture of their past interactions, which got me invested in their present and future.

Overall, highly recommended. It was a very enjoyable read, and I'm definitely going to get the rest of the series.

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