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Lying with Scorpions: 2 (Memory of Scorpions) [Paperback]

Aleksandr Voinov

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Book Description

7 Jan 2014 Memory of Scorpions
If you lie with scorpions, you’d better have a taste for poison.

Now that Kendras’s lover Adrastes has claimed the throne of Dalman, Kendras is tangled deeper than ever in politics and intrigue. As the new leader of the Scorpions and Adrastes’s one true friend, he and his men stand between Adrastes and those who wish him dead.

And many do. Adrastes openly challenges the ocean priesthood for power while establishing himself at court and brokering with the realm’s various factions. He means for the Scorpions to become a fearsome legion again, but Kendras must first learn how to be a good officer and recruit to replace the fallen. His choices will determine the future of a group steeped in hundreds of years of history and tradition.

As both Kendras and Adrastes settle old scores, a new enemy arises in Commander Graukar, a war hero loyal to the old order. In his formidable mountain fortress, Graukar may hold the balance of power. But while Adrastes aims to either rule or destroy Graukar, Kendras finds himself doubting Adrastes for the first time, and sharing more with Graukar than he ever thought possible.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Riptide Publishing; first edition (7 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1626491119
  • ISBN-13: 978-1626491113
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 13.1 x 20 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,580,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterwork of storytelling! 29 Jan 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
“Lying With Scorpions” starts right where “Scorpion” left off. Adrastes is about to become king of Dalman, Kendras is his lover, Kendras is now the Officer of the Scorpions, and the Scorpions are acting as Adrastes’ personal guard. Kendras is content but wary. He has faith in Adrastes built from years following his orders while he was the Officer. Kendras wants to believe all the little things that are bothering him aren’t real or are simply not what he fears. First and foremost he has to protect Adrastes in the time leading up to his coronation. The citizens of Dalman aren’t embracing Adrastes wholeheartedly, nor are they openly rebelling against him. After learning of a possible plot among the generals of Dalman, Kendras decides to take his new recruits up into the mountains for initiation. Adrastes is pressuring Kendras to increase the size of the Scorpions and Kendras will be able to meet one of the military heroes of Dalman, Graukar. When Kendras does finally meet Graukar it’s not as he originally intended. The newest Scorpion had a bad reaction to the scorpion sting that is part of the induction ceremony. Kendras arrives at Eagle’s Test, Graukar’s command, needing medical care. He’s not as easily able to learn about Graukar as he wished. What he does learn when he finally meets the man isn’t what he quite expected. Graukar is a well respected commander because he’s a really great guy. His troops look up to him because he’s worthy of their respect. Kendras finds himself respecting and admiring the man as well.

Kendras and his new Scorpion return for Adrastes’ coronation. All goes well and there is a surprise visit from a Jaishani representative complete with a Jaishani legion. Adrastes is now king and Kendras is finding he wants less and less to do with him. Kendras no longer considers himself Adrastes’ lover and has begun making his way to Graukar who was commanded to attend the coronation. In addition to this change, Kendras receives life altering news from the Jaishani. He also has to reconcile himself to the fact he must stand up to Adrastes who does not seem to respect the fact Kendras is now the Officer. Adrastes attempts to continue to command Kendras and direct the path of the Scorpions in ways the Memory never detailed. Kendras is at a loss and has nowhere to turn but to Graukar. They become secret lovers and confidantes.

Adrastes destroys the Ocean priesthood with the help of the Jaishani. He accomplishes his goal, but he instills fear in the hearts of his own citizens and his neighbors in Vededrin. An attempt on Adrastes’ life has many of the citizens questioning whether or not they want Adrastes to survive. After learning more about Adrastes, Kendras also finds himself questioning his desire to have Adrastes live to be king. Despite Adrastes’ protestations he won’t be a tyrant, he’s shaping up to be exactly that and Kendras may have just sent him medical treatment that may save his life.

This book affected me. It wasn’t unlike complicated jazz music or a Bergman film. It’s not something I would classify as enjoyable, but it was a masterwork of storytelling that left me feeling wasted. I was so hurt by the person Adrastes proved himself to be. Whereas I could easily read a book from his perspective and understand his motivations and love him as a character, the pain he caused Kendras in proving he wasn’t the man Kendras thought was stunning. Kendras fell in love with the Officer and has learned Adrastes is someone else entirely. It hurt and was so appropriate. To add to the depth of the pain, Adrastes seemed hurt at the deterioration of the relationship as much as Kendras. Both men became entranced with someone in a specific position. When that person was no longer in the same position everything was over. It was never love. It was adoration.

As with my review of “Scorpion” I left significant quantities of detail out of my review. So much happened in this book. Kendras is no simple soldier and never really was. His life is becoming more and more complicated and the man who simply wanted to rescue his Officer no longer exists at all. Kendras new problems are still as small as seeing to the men who serve with him in the Scorpions but they are also now as large as familial alliances with a foreign power. In some ways there was very little action in this book but Kendras whole world view was changed. He experienced a seismic shift and has to deal with the changes. I am dying for the next book to see how he does so.

This review can also be found at "Live Your Life, Buy The Book"
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! Great sequel! 24 Jan 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
WOW! I read Scorpion several years ago and deeply loved it... I was under the impression that it was to be a stand alone novel. When I saw on Twitter that Aleksandr was working on sequels, I was a very happy girl! I read the updated version of Scorpion not too long ago, and have waited for Lying with Scorpions axiously. Here it is! I loved it. The story is just as complex and twisting as Scorpion, the characters are wonderful, especially Kendras. We learn more about his history in this one, and his family history. I had a hard time with Adrastes, he's changed a lot since the first book when he was the Officer. Now he's a ruler, and he's gotten dark... I wasn't sure about Aleksandr's decision on what to do with their relationship, but by the end of the book I approved. Great new characters, great old characters, enough action to be interesting but not as much fighting as the first book. which is fine, I can take or leave big fight scenes. I'm so curious to see how this will wrap up in A Taste of Poison... I just can't imagine where Aleksandr will take us! But I trust it will be a fantastic ride!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood, Dust, Betrayal and Trust 20 Jan 2014
By Spifette - Published on
For all of the serious tone and subjects in this book, it’s just plain fun to read. FUN. I enjoyed myself as each word sunk its mini grappling hooks into me, page after page. And it all started with a map…

Let’s start with that map that is included at the very beginning of the book. It helped me to look at that before starting to read, for spatial reasons, to have an idea of the distances between places. Voinov’s words take care of the descriptions of those places and made it easy for my brain to paint those pictures. Doesn’t hurt that I love maps.

To me, Kendras is a game changer. This entire story is about how things are changing in this world of Dalman, Fetin, the Temple City and so much more. This story is about how Kendras is changing, both as a result of his own growth and that forced upon him by changes in those around him.

Adrastes is a true leader but wants the simple things in life and will get them, at any cost, to bring them in line with his definition of such a life. Kendras attempts to keep priorities: for the kingdom and Adrastes, and for the Scorpions, his men. These goals are not always in alignment.

Selvan the slave is a key, maybe the key, to them all. A grounding force exemplified from a most powerful place: on his knees. He’s the hidden heart of this story for me and Kendras needs him, most of all for the friendship and trust.

Runner is a woman of strength who doesn’t want anyone unduly using theirs on her again. Kendras opens the world of possibilities for her and is probably gaining an unexpected and very strong ally.

Widow is still widow, a jerk you need and want around. He may say those jerk type things but they’re surrounded in truth. Kendras is smart to take in what he says, even when he doesn’t want to or it causes him to question things… and people. Undoubtedly, ya’ll, Widow: a walking truth of brutally clever insights, and barbs. We have still only seen the top few layers of this man.

From page one, we’re properly dumped right into the story, the intrigue, the doubts and desires. It never really stops. This is a true fantasy, with the characters, locations, names and a few ‘foreign’ words here and there. However, it is never at a level that would preclude enjoyment by a reader who may consider themselves a member of the “I read fantasy-lite” camp, of which I am. This is partly achieved by the historical feel by means of detail in clothing, food and overall culture. It still feels like this could be Persia from millennia ago. Lite fantasy with a robust historical twist? Yes, please and thank you.

Amidst all of this fantasy, there are incredibly human, quiet, emotionally wide open moments. They bring everything into a different focus and up the ante on the larger wheels in motion and the dangerous possibilities. For everything he’s been through, Kendras continues to reveal these moments, reveal himself within them. I actually sighed more than once.

All of this *points up* is what storytelling is all about: creating complex people in a complicated setting and bringing every bit of it to its collective knees through gestures and words dripping with implications at the very personal level. They’ll either change everything or nothing, and both outcomes make me care about these characters.

Graukar. Enemy? Secret ally? Lover? Traitor? He starts out as a reluctantly accepted general to newly crowned King Adrastes. After that? We gain wee glimpses to the answers and questions, and more. Besides Widow, he’s the only other man to truly pique Kendras’ curiosity. Bonus: he does it without biting wit and verbal burns. In fact, the opposite. Mmmm hmmm. He manages to touch parts of Kendras that no one else has before reached. Not even Adrastes. Though, without some of those past experiences that involved the king, then an Officer, Kendras may not have been as capable of allowing himself to feel these touches of Graukar’s. The beauty of timing. Bigtime bonus #2: Graukar and Kendras together are hot.

Just to give you an idea of the questions we are left to ponder, wring our literary hands over, discuss and plain ole grin about the fact that a book makes us think like this. Who will conquer whom? Who will survive their destiny? Does Kendras play it smart? Play at all? What will come of Adrastes and Kendras? Graukar and Kendras? Will the secrets save or destroy them? At what cost? What of the heartbeat of them all, Selvan? What of the other Scorpions like Dev, Kiran and Riktan? Runner?

I came up with one thing that may lead to some answers. Everyone is looking for the truth, in whatever form they feel the need, especially Kendras. Sometimes when you choose to trust someone, without knowing why, their worth is revealed to be more than you could have predicted.

The flip side of trust is betrayal. That is definitely what seems to be happening, and people have their reasons and they feel legitimate, but there will be consequences. How those will manifest is yet to be seen. We’ve only seen the initial volleys and the bombs haven’t landed on the other side of the various walls yet.

A side note: listen, Shadow, Graukar’s brother… yeah, we need more of him and more of him with someone, someone to both knock that fantastic smirk off his face, only now and then, and have fun doing it.

Amrash. I won’t even say anything further. This character is now and will forever be one of the best supporting I’ve ever encountered in a work of fiction. Talk about bang for your buck.

The surprises and twists continue and deepen in this book, spreading their roots and branches further and in more unpredictable patterns. My insides still feel sore from being tossed around like a well-worn ragdoll. I somehow have survived my own attack by the Scorpions.

Voinov knows emotion, knows human beings and our tendencies, our unavoidable foibles and hopes, our needs. He knows the heart. He knows what it means to fight for the life you want. He shows all of that in this book. If you want all of that, read this. I wanted all of that and got it. Thank you, AV.

This review was originally published at Prism Book Alliance and is in reference to the e-book.
I was provided an ARC by Riptide Publishing in exchange for my review, as well as I own my own copy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant and Brutal Saga. A Story You Can't Put Down 22 Feb 2014
By Melanie Marshall - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
For all my reviews and thoughts on writing, visit [...]

If you lie with scorpions, you’d better have a taste for poison.

Now that Adrastes, ex leader of the Scorpions and Kendras’s lover, has assumed the throne of Dalman along with his sister Queen, Kendras is finding himself increasingly out of his depths. He feels uncertain not only his own leadership of the Scorpions but of Adrastes the King. Kendras was brought up to fight, his enemy clear. Now he is smothered in political games of treachery, poison and succession. Even his past is shaken when old memories are stirred up of his childhood and parents.

Adrastes has a new role for the Scorpions, one which means leaving their centuries old rules and traditions behind to become a fighting army for the king. Once Kendras would have followed Adrastes blindly but now he starts to have questions. And with the arrival of the formidable Commander Graukar, General of the West, Kendras becomes even more unsettled. Graukar is the opposite of everything that Adrastes seems to becoming. Graukar is forthright, a formidable fighter, a person unlike any Kendras has known before. Now the future seems uncertain. What is the truth and what is false? Can Kendras, the Officer and lover, still trust the man he risked everything to find and save? Or is there more going on around Kendras that even he can imagine.

What a brutal and brilliant saga this is turning out to be. In the first story of the series,Scorpion (Memory of Scorpions, #1), we are introduced to Kendras, member of the Scorpions, an elite fighting force that has been decimated by the constant warfare between the rival cities. Kendras' world has been a very straightforward place up until recently. He had a mission, to find and rescue his Officer, the leader of the Scorpions who also happens to be his lover. No person or obstacles kept Kendras from accomplishing his task. His life is the Scorpions, a group of men who have become a family steeped in the traditions of this mercenary unit. But by the end of that story, Adrastes, the Officer Kendras rescued turns out to be someone unexpected, a King. And upon assuming the throne, the title and responsibilities of the leadership of the Scorpions passes to Kendras. Suddenly his life is overwhelmingly complicated and his loyalties stretched to include not just his close-knit band of fighters but a king and his political agenda.

One of the elements I appreciated with this story is the manner in which Voinov deepens his characterizations to compete with the equally evolving complexity of his plot. With each new political intrigue or added plot layer the author unfolds a revelation about a character to ensure that all the elements remain in balance. Central to the story is the growth that Kendras must experience in order to cope with his ever changing (and precarious) position in almost every aspect of his life. The author paints a very clear portrait of a man out of his depths, a "rank in file" soldier promoted to Officer, a position he reluctantly assumes. His lover went from Officer of a small fighting corp to ruler of two city kingdoms and possibly more. Kendras used to be certain where he belonged and his role in the Scorpions, now everything around him feels like smoke and mirrors, leaving Kendras desperate to adjust. The story is again told from Kendras' point of view, and that provides the reader with a front seat to his confusion and increasing doubts about Adrastes, his role in the King's life and indeed, the very future of the Scorpions themselves.

Voinov has a gift of creating characters that exude a great vitality, a certain brutal realism that is perfect for the world they inhabit. This ability to believe in Kendras, Adrastes, Widow, and all the others makes it relatively easy to slide into their lives and the conflicts that arise around them. Kendras is the core of the story and its through his eyes that we watch his world undergo fundamental changes that start to force him to question the very tenets of his life. The introduction of new important characters is one aspect of the change in direction for both storyline and character growth. It is also one of the most disconcerting elements of Voinov's series. Much like Game of Thrones, this is a savagely violent and ruthless world where conflict and death is the norm and lives are short lived. It contains merciless killers, barbarous priests, and sadistic, conniving rulers. Deceit and treachery are not only commonplace but almost necessary for survival. Need I say that to get too fond of anyone in the series is probably a mistake? Because everyone in this series seems expendable, perhaps even Kendras himself.

The author starts expanding his universe with this story. New lands and seas are added, and the Jaishani themselves make a remarkable and stunning entrance into the story and Kendras' life. Richer in texture and more deeply layered, Lying with Scorpions is full of surprises and twists. Like shards of glass, small bits of information are laid out for Kendras and the reader to ponder, wondering where they will fall and who they will cut the deepest. Foreshadowing of the future or a deception designed to obscure instead of instruct? A mask, a mosaic and even a legend, all have the ability to bring forth both shivers of dread as well as anticipation. Just more of Voinov's master storytelling at work.

Prepare to undergo as many changes as Kendras in your feelings towards all the characters here. Some you thought trustworthy prove otherwise, and some show sides of themselves that will surprise you with their resourcefulness as well as their loyalties. I loved the character of Lord/Lady Amrash as well as that of Runner. Not surprisingly, I fear for their future in the next story, A Taste of Poison (Memory of Scorpions #3) coming soon.

I quickly became addicted to this series with Scorpion, and this story only saw that addiction deepen. I am fascinated by the author's ability to get under the reader's skin with his believable characters, imaginative plot and ever widening world building. If you are a lover of warriors, of ancient kingdoms, of lust and loyalty and so much more, then this intense magnificent saga is for you. Lying with Scorpions ends with a bit of a cliffhanger so I am desperately waiting for the next story to arrive. I don't expect any quick or neat resolutions nor do I want them. It's not Voinov's style nor would it work for this character and series. I will be content to let the anticipation build.

If you are new to the series, start with the first book, Scorpions (Memory of Scorpions #1). There are two versions. Make sure you have the recently revised and redited one to start with. The cover is the quickest indication you have the correct one. Then more on to Lying with Scorpions. It will take your breath away. One of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Best of 2014.

Cover by Reese Dante. At first I thought the subject of the cover was Kendras and the lack of blue eyes confused me. But the author informs me that the person on the cover is Adrastes, who is half-caste, being the son from a sacred marriage between the Jaishani Besh and Ashangul who is white. He was chosen for the cover because the story is mostly about his rise to power. He has brown eyes per the description in the first story in the series.

Books in the series in the order they should be read to fully understand the characters and complex plot are:

Scorpion (Memory of Scorpions #1)
Lying with Scorpions (Memory of Scorpions #2)
A Taste of Poison (Memory of Scorpions #3) coming soon

Book Details:

ebook, 317 pages
Published January 20th 2014 by Riptide Publishing (first published January 18th 2014)
edition languageEnglish
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a quick review for Lying with Scorpions 7 July 2014
By IslandWriter - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Series/Standalone: book two
HEA/HFN: not yet
Relatable characters: yes
Non-Con: no
Violence: high
Sensuality level: medium
Well written/editor needed: well written
Would I re-read?: yes
Personal thoughts: I'm eagerly awaiting the next book!
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