Knight of Flames by A.K. Faulkner (Inheritance #2)

Quentin d’Arcy may have survived a showdown with a god, but now he faces something far more terrifying: falling in love. And the secret he’s hiding from Laurence could burn them both. 

Kane Wilson says he wants to make a better world - one in which psychics are out and proud without fear of reprisal or hatred - but there’s a trail of bodies buried in his past. Kane’s power is his words. When he commands, everyone obeys. They have no choice. 

Everyone except Quentin. As the only person in San Diego immune to Kane’s mind-control, he is the psychic community’s last line of defense against Wilson’s murderous schemes. 

The fire has been foreseen. Quentin’s survival hasn’t. 

CONTRIBUTOR(S): R.J. Bayley (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Ravensword Press
YEAR: 2016
LENGTH: 460 pages (12 hours 8 minutes)
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy, Romance
RECOMMENDED: Highly

Queer Rep Summary: Gay/Achillean Main Character(s), Bi/Pan Main Character(s), Ace/Aro Main Character(s).

KNIGHT OF FLAMES continues the themes of consent and boundaries which began in JACK OF THORNS, but this time with an antagonist who can control people with his voice. As Laurence and Quentin work on their relationship with each other (navigating Quentin's telekinetically enhanced panic attacks and Laurence's need for physical intimacy), they continually emphasize consent and communication, and I'm enjoying them as individuals and as a couple. This stands in stark contrast to the way Kane Wilson runs his operation. Because he can compel people with his words, it's hard to know at any one time whether the people around him genuinely want to be there doing what they're doing at any moment. I still don't like "psychic" being used as a catch-all term for every power, but at least this book has specifically labeled Quentin's main ability as telekinesis in addition to referring to everyone as psychic. By the time I finished this book I no longer twinged each time the word came up, which is good since it's not a problem with the text, it's just now how I would normally use that word even though I accept that it technically describes the general range of abilities involved. 

I like the episodic focus of the series so far, as a sequel it continues the relationship between Quentin and Laurence which began in JACK OF THORNS. It doesn't specifically wrap up anything left hanging, but it gets several aspects of their lives to the next stage. I would count among them the appearance of Quentin's twin brother. He was mentioned in the first book and is the first member of Quentin's family who makes an appearance in anything other than a memory or flashback. Being introduced to one of Quentin's brothers was cool but weird, I'm intrigued as to how much of a role he'll continue to play as the series continues. This particular book has a wholly new storyline involving the existence of other psychics, serving to establish both that there are other people with powers, and that even in that subgroup the degree of Quentin's and Laurence's gifts stand out. A very major thing was both introduced and resolved, and the epilogue serves nicely to situate that resolution in the context of the ongoing series. 

One of my favorite things about how Quentin and Laurence are written is that they generally have completely different ways of processing the exact same situation. This applies to everything, but especially in their relationship. The progression of their dynamic makes sense, with each of them moving out of their comfort zones to meet the other partway, finding an equilibrium where Laurence isn't too horny to think and Quentin isn't panicking at the idea that sex exists. My impression of Quentin from JACK OF THORNS is that's he's likely sex-repulsed and asexual, and that seems consistent with him here as well (though he's working on that first part). Even though he's not ready to try and figure out what traumatized him in the first place (neither Laurence nor I believe that nonsense about all his layers of scars being caused by childhood clumsiness), I'm so glad he's trying to work through the panic and stop disassociating whenever he's stressed. Additionally, he's working on the panic first, then seeing if that calm can help in his relationship, rather that the other way around. Very specifically, Laurence isn't trying "fix" Quentin with sex, or any other acephobic nonsense that could so easily have been part of a narrative with this basic setup. 

I'm enjoying the series so far and I'm very ready to read the next book. 

Graphic/Explicit CW for sexual content, blood, fire, gore, violence, child death, murder, death.

Moderate CW for grief, vomit, child abuse, sexual abuse, trafficking, medical content, medical trauma, parental death, suicide.

Minor CW for gaslighting, ableism, bullying, biphobia, homophobia, toxic relationship, drug abuse, drug use, rape, torture.

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