This post includes reviews of the books in the Legends of Lobe den Herren series:
- Fourth Point of Contact (#1)
- Zone of Action (#2)
Fourth Point of Contact (Legends of Lobe den Herren #1)
Sherwood makes some interesting worldbuilding decisions that gave me pause at a few points during this story. However, it is obvious that they are all in service to telling the most entertaining story possible, and it’s so much easier (and more enjoyable) to go along with Ren and Arman’s adventure than quibble about minor details. These men are amazing characters and solid friends, and I had a lot of fun as they worked through the external plotlines of this book. The friends-to-lovers romance arc was a delicious bonus, featuring excellent demisexual representation and supporting an opposites-attract dynamic done right.
I appreciated how the author evokes familiar Earth cultures without leaning into unnecessary (or unfortunate) stereotyping to populate this fantasy world. This definitely saves time on description that is much better spent on character development and interaction, both for our main pairing and the extensive cast of well-rounded secondary characters. I found myself happily interested in the friendships and family dynamics beyond the main bond shared by Ren and Arman, enjoying the quiet moments with shared drinks as much as the sexy bits.
This book may be relatively low-angst in the relationship department, but it still adds drama and a lovely bit of spice to the intricate external conflict of political intrigue. I look forward to exploring more of this world at Ren and Arman’s side.
Zone of Action (Legends of Lobe den Herren #2)
The first book in this set did not necessarily require a follow-up, but I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting these characters and this world. However, the world narrows a bit in this installment, with the focus on Ren’s homeland and its culture. It is directly evocative of Japan, but I am not familiar enough with the country to determine where Sherwood’s fictional interpretation falls on the spectrum from accurate to idealized to stereotypical.
I was invested in how Sherwood tackles the subjects of bias and discrimination in this series, even if the results are much easier and more simplistic than is often the case in reality. But this isn’t reality, so we’re also allowed to celebrate successes with our heroes. Ren and Arman are true heroes in every sense of the word, and we get a better look at their military experience and how well they work together (outside of their romance) in this story. The external conflict features an excellent blend of military and political shenanigans, especially the tangles of bureaucracy and “hurry up and wait” punctuated by moments of excitement and danger.
The internal conflict of Ren and Arman’s relationship arc in this book is more subtle. Their love is never in question. However, the theme of this book is family, and I loved seeing how this particular pairing embraces multiple variations of that subject. I’m ridiculously picky about child characters in my romance books, but Saku even won me over in the end.
This novel is worth reading if you enjoyed the first book. I always enjoy Sherwood’s light narrative style and characters who effortlessly blend humor and depth.