This post includes reviews of the following books in the Shattered Pawns series:
- Pass (#1)
- Capture (#2)
- Promote (#3)
Pass (Shattered Pawns #1)
I fell in such love with this fascinating urban fantasy world that I devoured this trilogy soon after finishing the first one, Diviner’s Game. A previous antihero, Tio, is now solidly in the hero camp, and I loved getting to experience his perspective. He’s insane in the sort of chaotic good way that I adore. We also better get to know a human who has accidentally been dragged into this secret world, a Houston cop unaffected by memory-wiping spells. Luca’s world blows wide open at the same time he finally takes the next relationship step with roommate Auggie—but only because Luca also makes out with Tio.
This sounds complicated, but the sweet romance that develops between all three men is probably the most straightforward part of this book. On the external conflict side, a serial killer is stalking a particular group of supernatural creatures in the Houston area, and Tio and Luca are tasked with solving the mystery. The scope of the problem quickly grows in scale when members of Tio’s extended family get involved, because nothing is simple where gods are concerned. The overarching plot of this series feels very much like a war compared with the “game” of the previous trilogy. Cody keeps the reader from feeling too overwhelmed by centering the action on Tio, Luca, and Auggie and balancing the stress of the external conflict with the joyfully obsessive love that binds them together in another unique spin on the “fated mates” concept.
Plenty of familiar faces from the previous trilogy also involve themselves in the plot. Since the “gathering of forces” conceit is one of my favorite fictional tropes, I was riveted until the very end—especially since the story all boils down to high-powered family drama. The bonds between Tio, Luca, and Auggie hold solid at the end of this book, but Cody brings back a storytelling element that kept me hooked last time, too. We may be party to the climactic ending of this tale, but only from a limited perspective. Because I had the feeling (and I was right) that we were going back to the beginning of the story in the next book.
Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars
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Capture (Shattered Pawns #2)
A running joke in the previous book is that Qis is everyone’s favorite, and after reading his story, I have to agree. Alone, he and Monet are fascinating heroes. Together, they’re a perfect combination on all accounts, and everything about how they come together is sexy AF. (Of course, your mileage may vary – heed the warnings regarding aspects of their relationship.) One of my favorite things about this urban fantasy series is the solid world-building Cody has done to continually reinvent the “fated mates” trope to make it applicable to the unique characters and situations in each book.
Cody is also excellent at changing all the rules of her world once we think we know them. What I assumed to be a fluke at the end of the first book in this trilogy is a bigger deal than I previously thought. Cody also plays with the concept of fate itself in this circular storytelling method of repeating time in a way that features plenty of surprises, no matter that we think we already know what happens next. Despite knowing how the final conflict at the end of this story plays out, she raises the stakes once again. The gods still play a large part in this narrative, but the true “big bad” might be on another level entirely.
Because of the aforementioned fated mates bit, Qis and Monet end this book in a good place for their relationship. Until Cody shocked me entirely with one of the ways she changes the rules on us. This book does end on a cliffhanger, with an epic ending that provides more questions than answers. Even though I wasn’t originally looking forward to the relationship featured in the next book, I launched into the next story as soon as possible.
Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars
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Promote (Shattered Pawns #3)
At first, I wasn’t terribly interested in the characters who make up the love story featured in this book, despite my desire to continue the overall story. However, at this point, I have more than enough faith in Cody as an author and knew I’d get much more than I expected. Kim and Ryan don’t make much sense as a couple on the outside but don’t tell Ryan that. He learns about his true identity and meets his perfect match all at once, and along the way, he more than earns his position as one of the most effective members of the Houston Hub, despite his young age. And as usual, Cody once again puts a unique spin on the way this relationship develops. She adds a dose of “timey-whimey” to the instant connection that develops between the two men but never backs away from showing that Kim and Ryan must still put in the effort to make an actual relationship flourish.
Kim has been a bit of a dark horse throughout this overall series, and I found myself enjoying his character much more than I thought I would. His ability to see the threads of fate puts him in numerous difficult positions, and he does the best he can with the options available to him. Cody is so good at telling different layers of the same story by building on what we already (think we) know and introducing new wrinkles along the way. Though I predicted one plot twist ages ago, the knowledge does nothing to diminish the excitement and intrigue laced through the overarching plot line.
The battle between the gods is still the pinnacle of the adventure, but it is definitely secondary to the true threat. With Ryan’s perspective of the final battle comes another twist that upends everything I originally predicted about how this story would end. Cody is currently in the process of writing the final book of this series, and I’m so excited to find out what happens next.
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