As an elite Sacrati fighter in the mighty Torian military, Theos is blessed with a city full of women who want to bear his children, and a barracks full of men proud to fight at his side and share his bed. He has everything he needs—until he captures Finnvid on a raid.
Finnvid is on a secret mission to prevent the Torian invasion of his homeland Elkat. Being enslaved by Torian soldiers wasn’t in his plans. Neither is his horrified fascination with the casual promiscuity of the Sacrati warriors. Men should not lie with other men—and he should not be so intrigued when they do. He definitely should not be most intrigued by the leader of the soldiers who captured him and plan to invade his home.
For Theos, everything would have been easier if the infuriating, lying, bewildering Elkati had never come into his life, but he can’t stay away. When betrayal and treachery threaten both their nations, they must work together to stop a war that could destroy their homes forever—even as they begin to question everything they’re fighting for.
I really enjoyed Sacrati. While the Elkati society seemed to be modeled after the traditional monarchies of our world, I found the Torian people and their society to be fascinating – the division of the sexes and labor that both enjoyed because it suited them and their way of life. The Elkat marry (one man to one woman) and remain a family until death – homosexuality is not accepted. Among the Torian, the concept of homosexuality is foreign because men and women enjoy both sexes and considering the way in which the Torian valley the story takes place in is set up it makes sense. There is no stigma attached to sex among the Torian people, so when a patrol of Sacrati – the elite of the Torian military – capture a band of Elkati trespassing on their land, there is no doubt that both people will find their world views challenged.
Sherwood does an excellent job of creating a tale of suspense and romance that challenges the reader to ponder both sides of the impending war. Part one of the book is presented from the Torian perspective, specifically from Theos’s point of view as the leader of the patrol that captures the Elkati trespassers. As the story plays out, we get to see Theos grow from the order-following Sacrati soldier into a man who is forced to contemplate the world he lives in. What begins as a warrior instinct that all is not right, causing him to claim Finnvid as his bounty, morphs into a need for answers as he begins to see Finnvid not as a nameless enemy but as a person. Just as Theos begins to see Finnvid as more than just his annoying “bedwarmer,” more information comes to light that forces Theos to release his claim on Finnvid and Theos is left with feelings of betrayal and something he cannot define. This change in circumstance leads into part two of the book, which is told from Finnvid’s perspective. Whereas part one gave the reader a look into the Torian society, part two is more focused on Finnvid and his struggles to find his place in the world – a world that is much larger now that he has been exposed to Torian cultures; a world that does not see man-on-man pairings as unnatural; a world that expects him to behave one way while away from Elkat but another way once he returns to Elkat, and a way in which he no longer feels he can live.
I loved the way in which the author presented the story – the world as Theos saw it, the world as Finnvid saw it, and the world that the various factions were trying to achieve. Sherwood does a great job of weaving together the “big picture” story about the impending war with the storyline that focuses on the relationship that develops between Theos and Finnvid. As the story progresses, each man has to come to terms with the differences between their societies and what it means for them. At first glance it may appear as though Finnvid is the one making the sacrifices, but Theos found his worldview turned on its head more than once. His internal battle to overcome his military discipline and question the actions of superiors was an emotional upheaval that he was ill-prepared for and yet the sacrifices that Finnvid made enabled them to support one another when the time came. Because the two men started off as enemies and the way in which their relationship changed throughout the course of the book, there was a slow build to intimacy between them. The way in which the author shifts between the main characters’ perspectives from part one to part two, made the way in which part three played out more suspenseful and kept me glued to my Kindle – after all, we are dealing with war and there are no guarantees as to who will live and who will die…not even in a romance. Sacrati was a great book and I hope that the author is considering writing a sequel.