by Tillie Cole

The intensity of this series has been hard to come to terms with at times but what hasn’t been difficult to get to grips with is the quality and depth of the work. The research that must have gone into this, is quite simply staggering.

From the first page of Raze, the series has been building to this crescendo, each story pulling them all together and all towards their goal, the decimation of the gulags, the blood pit and Master Arzani.

Each of the men have found their mates, Luka has Kisa, Zaal has Talia and in the last book Ravage, Valentin found his soulmate in Zoya but he lost his sister, Inessa when she was shipped back to Master Arzani to be his High Mona (sex slave) and they all knew that getting her back was going to be a far from easy task but controlling the rage that fuel Valentin all the time that she was missing was almost as impossible. They knew he would never settle without her and because of that they had one option and that was to join forces to bring about not only an end to Master Arzani and his operation but to bring back Inessa.

So what about this book, well I am sure you can work out that this is Inessa story and I have to say what a story it is, this is one tough cookie!

Returned to Master Arzani, she is nothing more than a number (#152), she knows nothing about her past other than the odd snippet of recollection that come to her in her dreams but are they real memories or are they her escape, her fantasy, she has no idea but her life as it is has reached the point where she will serve her purpose for as long as the master sees fit and then she knows that he will dispose of her like he has the others that went before her but what she hadn’t anticipated was the level of depravity and deviousness that this man possessed, I don’t know how anyone could possibly comprehend how his almost despotic existence continued to manifest itself, the man ruled with absolute power and exerted total control where through fear or through the drugs that he used to subdue his captives, disobedience was a death sentence … and considering the misery of their existence, I am sure for many an end to the torture would have been a merciful outcome but Arzani was anything but merciful!

Master Arzani’s champion, his undefeated blood pit ruler was #901, he was the ultimate fighter, he feared nothing but made perfectly sure to almost refute the Master at every opportunity, he had no weakness, nothing that master could use against him but nothing lasts forever and when the master eventually works out what or should I say who he can use, the resulting events were both painful yet beautifully tragic. I felt my heart freeze as I read the scenes where #152 was brought to his cell and where he desperately tried to reject her but couldn’t watch her suffer through a pain that he could resolve.

I found the despair almost tangible, desolation and depravity were brought to the fore with a strong sense of not only purpose but point, the point being that despite everything that had been taken from them they still had a soul that refused to be beaten and it was the depth of that soul that refused to allow their bodies and determination to be taken from them, they had a humanity that beggared belief, I felt totally humbled and completely inadequate at what they were willing to sacrifice for each other.

They may have been two brutally damaged and desperate souls but their hearts spoke to each other with a reverence and desire that was quite simply breath-taking. It showed that, just as in the previous books, love has no limits, it knows no barriers and refuses to be beaten despite how hard others might try, the connection between #152 and #901 was one that I expected to be short but the author obviously had other ideas.

As you would expect the characters from the previous novels are pivotal in this story line but once you know the temperament of both Valentin and #901 (who we eventually discover is called Ilya), I was wary of a resolution that was going to give everyone peace.

The plan, the men put in place, the events that unfold and the whole plot was just so right…I know that left to my own devises I would have never been able to come up with that scenario, it gave them all the opportunity to exercise their demons, a chance to find a way for all of them to find a path to a future that is no longer defined by who they were and what they did to survive.

I have very little that I can say about what this book means other than it left me completely staggered and ready to plead on bended knee for the possibility of a little bit more, especially Maya.

Topic: Riot by Tillie Cole

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