cover image The Scythian Trials

The Scythian Trials

Elizabeth Isaacs. Vesuvian, $19.95 trade paper (340p) ISBN 978-1-944109-30-1

In Isaacs’s fun and sensual fantasy novel, magnetic characters and relationships offset minimal worldbuilding. Nya Thalestris, the last descendent of an Amazonian queen and Scythian leader, competes in the Rovni Trials in Romania to ensure she has the privilege of choosing her own mate. The Trials mandate that each champion choose a true equal as a partner, usually out of five ideal matches called the Chosen. The brutality of the tournament is not as terrifying as intimacy is to Nya, who fights the urge to recoil when she is touched. Helping Nya find the trauma at the root of her anxieties is Ajax Nickius, a Tova warrior and esteemed psychologist who also happens to be one of her Chosen. As Nya tries to connect to her potential mates, buried memories of her kidnapping by the Drahzdan army resurface, and she must contend with the betrayal of those she once held close. Isaacs (The Heart of Ancients) uses modern technology and politics to place this story in a contemporary context, but a lack of detail in the Scythian culture outside of its mating rituals makes the warrior society difficult to fully envision. Fans of fantasy romance that’s heavy on the romance will enjoy focusing on the relationships and let the rest slide. Agency: Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Mgmt. (Oct.)