RogerBW's Blog

Sweep With Me, Ilona Andrews 23 March 2023

2022 SF/fantasy novel in the Innkeeper series. In what seems like an obvious trap for Dina and Sean, Sean's mentor is kidnapped and taken to a planet that's almost certainly fatal to get to. Someone else can provide safe transport, but there's a price…

Mostly, in fact, this book is about the price, which is that Dina's Inn needs to host an interstellar version of The Bachelor. Which, I should say, I have never seen; I have essentially zero or negative interest in reality TV. But the great difference, and the reason I find this whole plot engaging rather than tawdry, is that this contest isn't just faked to engage an audience; it's a genuine competition (though including audience votes), for the leader of one of the great interstellar powers to select his future spouse, with significant political implications for the factions sponsoring both winners and losers.

So there are those twelve factions in play, plus the ruler himself, and Caldenia his aunt who's a permanent resident at the Inn (in exile for murdering her brother, his father, which surely won't be awkward at all). And Dina has her own goals for the Inn too. There's lots of juggling to do, and as always the most solid parts of this series are Dina being competent and sorting things out – of which we get plenty.

There are side stories too: an encounter with a sphinx, a failed werewolf, and the rescue itself, which after all the pageantry of the contest perhaps falls a little flat.

I think, if anything, what disappointed me here was the resolution to Caldenia's story – why did she, as she famously did, murder her brother and start an interstellar war? Well, we get the answer, and like any firm answer it's inevitably a slight let-down compared with what I had vaguely imagined.

And the two main threads didn't quite meld together for me: here's this exciting and tense story about foiling a kidnapping, but all that's put on hold while we do game show. It's a well-done game show, and the stakes turn out to be just as genuine as one might hope, but it's a bit of a wrench.

Still, great fun apart from these minor structural problems, and a fine continuation of the series.

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