Book Review

Galactic Intrigue & Questioning Loyalties In The Queer Space Opera The World Needs — Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie {Book Review}

Bonds of Brass by Emily SkrutskieTitle: Bonds of Brass (The Bloodright Trilogy #1)
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Del Rey Books
Release Date: April 7th, 2020
Standalone/Series: Series
Genre: Adult – Science Fiction


My rating in stars: 4,5 stars
My rating in words: Loved it!


A young pilot risks everything to save his best friend–the man he trusts most and might even love–only to learn that he’s secretly the heir to a brutal galactic empire.

Ettian Nassun’s life was shattered when the merciless Umber Empire invaded. He’s spent seven years putting himself back together under its rule, joining an Umber military academy and becoming the best pilot in his class. Even better, he’s met Gal Veres–his exasperating and infuriatingly enticing roommate who’s made the Academy feel like a new home.

But when dozens of classmates spring an assassination plot on Gal, a devastating secret comes to light: Gal is the heir to the Umber Empire. Ettian barely manages to save his best friend and flee the compromised Academy unscathed, rattled both that Gal stands to inherit the empire that broke him and that there are still people willing to fight back against Umber rule. As they piece together a way to deliver Gal safely to his throne, Ettian finds himself torn in half by an impossible choice. Does he save the man who’s won his heart and trust that Gal’s goodness could transform the empire? Or does he throw his lot in with the brewing rebellion and fight to take back what’s rightfully theirs?

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Look, I’m not gonna lie, the main reason I picked up Bonds of Brass is because it was described as the FinnPoe arc that should have been. And also the cover, because how gorgeous is that?

But, though my initial reasons to pick up this book may have been simple and a little shallow, I quickly gained so many more reason why I love this book and why you should definitely not sleep on this beauty either. 

The intense, emotional plot and its moral questions
This is a story that’ll not only make you question the character’s loyalties constantly, but you’ll also find yourself doubting what you would do in this situation. Ettian is a child of the Archon empire, but after the Umber empire invaded, he’s had to survive on his own and eventually joined an Umber military academy. It’s there that he met his best friend and current crush, Gal. But when Gal is attacked and revealed as the Umber heir, Ettian has to make some excruciating choices: does he give up everything to save his best friend and get him safely back to his family, the people who ruined his life? Or does he throw in his lot with the growing rebellion, take back their empire and lose his best friend in the process? Ettian’s internal monologues show his hesitations throughout the entire story and I like how emotional and intense this felt. Just like Ettian, I was pondering the question myself and I’m not gonna lie, my emotions and loyalties shifted throughout the book.

The best mix between friends-to-lovers and enemies-to-lovers
To be fair, I’m not good at choosing between favorite tropes, so when a story just mashes two of them together and hands them both to me in a neat little package, I really appreciate it. Ettian and Gal’s romance has the best of both worlds. They got to know each other and became friends at the academy and then slowly developed feelings for each other.  But when truths come out, they also turn out to be enemies as they’re on different sides of the Umber-Archon conflict. And yet, they still try to put their friendship first. So we have both the emotional connection that runs deep from the start and the tension that inevitably comes with them questioning each other’s loyalties. A truly delicious mix if you ask me.

The rainbow umbrella wielding Wen Iffan
Though Ettian and Gal are obviously the main characters, we also meet quite a lot of intriguing side characters. Though Wen Iffan came along, blew them all away with her awesomeness (literally and figuratively) and quickly became my favorite character. During their journey, Ettian and Gal meet Wen Iffan, a half burnt, rainbow umbrella-wielding girl with a fondness for chaos and blowing things up. Ettian and Wen immediately connect  (well, after a few hickups in the form of a mob chase) and their friendship warmed my heart. 

The fast-paced action
This story moves along at such breakneck speed, there’s not a dull moment in sight. We start off immediately with the attack scene that sets the whole story in motion and from then on, it’s a wild adventure that jumps from epic space battles to mob chases to stealing (borrowing) planes and more. All interspersed with just the right amount of character moments and ethical questions to make this one unforgettable ride. Though I do have to say that, as much as I loved the fast pace, I wish we had one or two chapters more in the beginning to get to know Ettian and Gal BEFORE everything went to hell.

The assortment of all tropes that make my heart swell
I already mentioned the glorious mix of friends-to-lovers and enemies-to-lovers above, but did you know this story features many more of my favorite tropes, and does it all in such a fun and refreshing way? There’s fake dating, mutual pining, “there’s only one bed”, forbidden romance, secret princes, and angst, angst, angst! Also, there’s streaking, a weaponized umbrella, hiding in a dumpster, legendary knights in powersuits and “Moments” in a river. Among other things.

The intense and unpredictable ending

Overall, I highly recommend Bonds of Brass to anyone who loved Star Wars but wished it was more gay, to anyone who just loves galactic intrigue and badass pilots, to anyone who just likes all the best tropes wrapped up and handed to them and anyone who is looking for a tense exploration of loyalty and bloodright.

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Favorite quotes:

“My only allegiance is to an empire that doesn’t exist yet, to the possibility of Gal’s future rule. Maybe that makes me a traitor. Maybe it forfeits my soul. But for him—for this disastrous boy sleeping next to me—I would, I will.”

“On my left, power without fathom in the fragile body of a boy. On my right, a nightmare of a girl who should be ruling these streets. And in the middle, there’s me.”

“But through all of this, through every part of this mess, the only thing that’s ever mattered is Gal. There’s only one side that has my allegiance. It’s not Archon, which fell and fled, or Umber, which conquered and reshaped. It’s not the past. It’s that possibility of a better future. It’s only ever been Gal.”

“It’s so clear now, looking at him. I should’ve trusted my instincts from the start—they always point me back in the same direction. Him, him, always him. Save him. Kiss him. Tell him.”

“No empire is worth it if I don’t have you too.”

Four and a half stars

Tell Me:
Have you read Bonds of Brass?
If yes, what did you think? If no, do you think you could like it?

Lindsey xoxo
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  1. Loved your review. 🙂 I agree, the cover is so gorgeous. The premise is intriguing, so, I’m eager to check this one out.

    1. Thanks, I hope you’ll enjoy this one if you decide to pick it up! I’m already eagerly awaiting the sequel 🙂

  2. Need to read this ASAP! Adult scifi is my favorite in the space genre. 😀

    1. I hope you enjoy this one if you decide to pick it up!
      Also, though it’s officially labeled as adult, it also has some young adult elements, so it’s a bit in between the two – not sure if that would impact your decision to read it but just so you know 🙂

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