The Kraken King (Parts 7-8) by Meljean Brook
Reviewed by Tori
A former smuggler and thief, Ariq—better known as the Kraken King—doesn’t know what to make of the clever, mysterious woman he rescues from an airship besieged by marauders. Unsure if she’s a spy or a pawn in someone else’s game, Ariq isn’t about to let her out of his sight until he finds out…
After escaping her fourth kidnapping attempt in a year, Zenobia Fox has learned to vigilantly guard her identity. While her brother Archimedes is notorious for his exploits, Zenobia has had no adventures to call her own—besides the stories she writes.
But when she jumps at the chance to escape to the wilds of Australia and acquire research for her next story, Zenobia quickly discovers that the voyage will be far more adventurous than any fiction she could put to paper…(Goodreads)
Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series is a rip roaring steampunk adventure filled with dastardly pirates, scary sea monsters, steamy romance, political intrigue, and devious adversaries. In her latest release Brook takes a different approach to her usual writing style by releasing the book in serial form, eight installments total. Though I’m not usually a fan of this format it works well in this instance as the story revolves around Zenobia Fox, the sister/writer who has captured the world’s attention with her imaginative stories about her brother’s adventures- Archimedes Fox. Each part is titled and presented in the exact same way as Zenobia herself pens her stories. Only this time, she’s the heroine.
In each installment we see an evolution of our heroine Zenobia. Brook slowly shows us the circumstances that created the woman we see before us now. An abusive childhood coupled with various kidnappings and unwanted advances from fortune hunters has created a woman whose walls are so high and thick, no one truly knows who Zenobia Fox really is. Once content to sit quietly on the sidelines reliving her brother’s adventures through the letters he writes, this now no longer appeals to this intelligent and intuitive woman. She wants to be seen for who she is, not for what she can do for others.
One man who sees Zenobia is Ariq, The Kraken King. Named for his kraken like grip, Ariq governs a small town that helps to hide his much larger agenda. A former rebel who’s mother and brother were sacrificed for a never-ending war, he left when the war stopped being about the people and more about the wants of those in charge. Ariq has his own secrets that he fears Zenobia has been sent to ferret out. Secrets we learn that can impact the entire world should they get out. As the serial progresses, Ariq learns that the woman he originally wanted in his bed surpasses anything he has ever imagined and now she is firmly encouraged in his heart. The war is coming and Ariq and Zenobia are being dragged in it’s wake. Ariq can not imagine his life without Zenobia in it, however, convincing her of that may be the biggest battle of his life.
Zenobia and Ariq have reached the Living City and now wait in fear and anticipation as they try to catch the Empress’s attention. Danger begins to swirl around them when they realize the Empress’s eyes see more than they imagined.
Danger enters their bedroom when old friend places doubts in Zenobia’s mind towards Ariq’s intentions and Ariq must open his own heart to prove his love. As enemies begin to come out of the woodwork, bent on forcing Ariq and Zenobia to bend to their will, our hero and heroine find help from some unexpected allies.
The events that take place in part seven are the catalyst that breaks down the emotional barriers between Zenobia and Ariq and sets the conclusion on a solid intriguing path. Zenobia is still unsure that Ariq sees “her” and not the spy her originally thought she was. Her walls are still high and though Ariq keeps breaking them down, he is in reality just as unsure as she is. They have their first fight and it relieves them both of their misconceptions. As if Ariq isn’t stressed enough, he still needs to convince the Empress convince her that the marauders who attacked his town are her trusted advisors and that sending her army to his town will only result in catastrophe. Zenobia goes behind Ariq’s back and sends Mara and Cooper back to Krakentown to see what has kept the Lieutenant from joining them in Nippon. We learn just how far the Empress’s eyes do see when her right hand comes seeking knowledge from Ariq through any means necessary. This act solidifies Zenobia and Ariq’s relationship and proves to them both that they are meant to be one forever.
Favorite Quote: “Don’t you dare leave me, because I will follow you. I swear to God that if you let go, I will tear down the Heavens and drag you back to me.”
Zenobia and Ariq have escaped in hopes of stopping a war no one has a chance of winning. Ariq uses his keen strategic mind to stay one step ahead of the Empress and Ghazan Bator, who is holding his town hostage. Zenobia has no idea how they will win this game but she has realized in the last few hours that she loves Ariq and no matter what happens, she will stay by his side till the bitter end.
Part Eight is a dynamic action packed finale that chooses peace over revenge (though personally, a certain someone wouldn’t have gotten off so easy if I had been there). *cracks knuckles* Release the Kraken isn’t just a saying when Zenobia and Ariq arrive back in Krakentown and gather an impressive set of allies. Deals are made that allow everyone to save face with little bloodshed but with an impressive use of political skill and ingenuity. Emotionally, our couple has come full circle. Zenobia has conquered her greatest fear and finally see’s who she is- reflected in Ariq’s eyes and heart.
Favorite Quote:“In all my life, I’ve never felt anything quite so wonderful-or so terrifying-as what I feel when I’m with him.”
The Kraken King has indeed been a great adventure.I recommend this to any reader who enjoys unique protagonists, witty dialog, a luscious romance, and an engaging swashbuckling adventure. Though not a fan of serials, Ms. Brook has achieved the almost impossible by giving readers a parted out story without sacrificing the integrity of the world or characters we have grown to love. I look forward to more exciting and dramatic escapades from Ms. Brook’s Iron Sea.
Side Note: Interested in learning more about Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series? Jen from That’s What I’m Talking About has a guest post from Ms. Brook explaining the history and geography on which this fascinating series is built.