Temple of Sand by Barbara Kloss (The Gods of Men: Book 2)

10/10 Has the deep and multifaceted worldbuilding of fantasy, the pace and verve of UF, and the pure, exhilarating fun of a thriller

The secret is out and Imari is on her way back to Istraa to face the music…

She’s certainly not expecting this homecoming to be a warm and celebratory affair, but things are worse than she could ever have imagined. A rebel leader is killing their way through the countryside causing chaos and bloody destruction, a terrifying example of the violence the Liagé are capable of unleashing. Fears grow by the day, each new attack leaving temples burned and people dead or missing. Blame could easily land on Imari, making it near impossible for her to reveal her true self. Whatever that may be. Her time in the Wilds has changed her, opening her eyes to the flaws in the world around her. The unfairness. The misery. The horror of Sol Velorian lives lived without hope or mercy. But if her banishment altered, then it also strengthened. Imari might have run before, but this time she has it all to fight for..

Just like The Gods of Men, Temple of Sand is a cracking read. I’ve been trying to come up with the right way to describe it but honestly I’m struggling. It’s a prime example of the new breed of SFF writing that smashes through genre labels like the outmoded categories they are. What Barbara Kloss has done is helped herself to the best bits from multiple styles and used them all really, really well. Temple of Sand has the deep and multifaceted worldbuilding of fantasy, the pace and verve of UF, and the pure, exhilarating fun of a thriller. Yet the author never limits herself in her portrayals of the complexity of the human experience. You might think in a world where there are real villains, the lesser evils of everyday prejudice and racism might fade into the background. But that is never an option, each feeds into the other until the darkness threatens to overwhelm the light. Who is there to face this? Flawed characters with their own bad choices to negotiate and overcome. It's complicated and frequently surprising, filled with moments of real danger.

And yet, there is light and laughter here, especially in the relationship between Imari and Jeric. Their romance reminds me so much of the kind you get in the finest UF. For me, Illona Andrews does it best, but this has put Barbara Kloss in my top 3. She’s found that perfect mix of heat and banter. The characters have the sort of connection that has you wishing desperately for them to get together, but also kinda wanting to keep him/her all for yourself too. Jeric is SO FREAKING HOT. I mean, sure, he has a past. What’s a few hundred (thousand?) murders between friends? We're all about his redemption anyway. Learn from your mistakes and grow, right? He’s on the correct side now. With his impressive everything and his sexy... confidence. No wonder Imari is all aflutter. But as with all the best heroines, she gives as good as she gets. Both characters are truly engaging and everything about them brings a huge smile to my face. I loved it all.

I read this cover to cover in one go and I’m already so desperate for the next book that I’ve put my order in direct with the author. It’s an incredible series that deserves more readers so take a chance. Then get in line behind me for what comes next.

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Barbara Kloss's The Gods of Men series

The Gods of Men

The Gods of Men: Book 1

Temple of Sand

The Gods of Men: Book 2

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