Author: Belinda Burke
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Length: 152 Pages
At a Glance: Belinda Burke’s prose is stunning, and at times, borderline poetic.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: A prince, a king, an oath to bind and an oath to break. Can something begun in darkness survive the light? Or does the shape of that oath define love…and the circle unbroken?
Three months have passed since Macsen Cadoc’s rescue of Bran Fionnan—three mortal months, three days in Macsen’s Red Kingdom. Bran is seeking a place for himself as sidhe, as Summer’s Prince and as Macsen’s consort, and the Red King has started to balance the thirst of his own nature with the love that now moves him just as much. Yet when Bran is reminded of an oath that was made between them when he was just a child, that which has so far held them together may end up tearing them apart.
While the strength of their love is tested, a mortal enemy is once more in motion. Focused only on their destruction, Dealla seeks to step into the place of her dead father—to rule over the Milesians and fulfill the oaths of crown and country. To do so, she must find a way to hurt two foes…one new and openly deadly, the other ancient and its enmity long asleep. Allies appear in unlikely places, armed by their own motives to seek the same destruction Dealla desires… But the price of success may be higher than the cost of failure—higher than any plot or plan allows.
What is the price of an oath fulfilled? Is love born from nothing, or does it wear a path that can be traced?
Review: Belinda Burke introduced a fantastical world of mythical characters in Dark Side of the Sun, book one in the Eight Kingdoms series, and has continued to build upon its mythology, as well as the relationship between Macsen Cadoc and Bran Fionann, in The Circle Unbroken.
This series is several things all at once: it’s a love story of opposites, it is Irish folklore, it’s the pagan celebration of the seasons, and it is a story of vengeance. Macsen is the Red King—the King of Winter. His lover, Bran, is the son of the Summer Queen, and this is where the contradiction of their love story lies, within the unbroken circle of the seasons and the interconnectedness of their respective times. They are dualism and yet winter and summer necessary to each other to complete a cycle, and this also is the cause of friction in the complicated that is their relationship.
Integral to this story is the human element, the huntress queen of Ireland who is out to destroy the sidhe. But she is no match for Macsen and has her sights on Bran. I loved the element of suspense in this part of the storyline, the crossing over of the two realms and the consequences of these humans and the fae not only interacting but in the division of allegiances. This is a major arc in the series and will carry over as the storyline moves forward, because Dealla is nothing if not obsessed.
Macsen and Bran’s relationship is tested in this installment, Bran beginning to question his place in Winter as well as his place in Macsen’s heart. Is it bloodlust, or the oath that binds them one to the other, or does Macsen truly love his prince of Summer? These questions Bran can’t answer are cause for conflict because he isn’t sure he can trust his Red King’s motives, and as much as the first book was about the mate-bond, this book introduced all the realities of not growing a relationship outside of that bond. I loved where that took these two, and felt it deepened and strengthened what’s been growing between them.
As with the first book in this series, Belinda Burke’s prose is stunning and, at times, borders on poetic. There’s an intrinsic passion between Macsen and Bran that is evident in every scene. The world-building and the lushly worded descriptions of time and place are vivid enough to draw mental images of each scene, giving some an almost dreamlike and ethereal quality, which I loved as well.
The Circle Unbroken is a great addition to the Eight Kingdoms -verse and one that has done nothing but improve upon this fairy tale world.
You can buy The Circle Unbroken here: