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Reviewed by Caitlin Lyle Farley for Readers' Favorite
In Elemental Conflict: Independence by JC Steel, Khyria and Anst leave Corina so they can discover a way to hide their Ability bond without drawing attention. While travelling through deep space, Khyria has a blackout. The band placed around her wrist by the Priestess is calling her back to the cult of the Elemental Order, and it’s only going to get stronger. Anst and Khyria head to the planet in search of answers and a solution. Knowing that they’re heading into a trap doesn’t make it any easier to endure what follows. The Warleader of the Golden Valleys finds himself forced into an uncomfortable alliance with his cousin, the Lady of the Crescent Lake, in an effort to prevent the Order from harming Khyria. Alara, High Priestess of Water, will do anything to see the prophecy fulfilled.
This is the fourth book in JC Steel’s Cortii series and although Steel does include relevant details, it’s best not to try to read this as a standalone novel. Khyria and Anst have a fascinating relationship. Both characters are deeply practical and independent, and while they both distrust the effects of the bond, they never take it out on each other. While there is a romantic aspect to Anst and Khyria’s relationship, Steel avoids the trope of characters falling in lust because they share a mystical bond. I did find it a little strange that the Cortii Abilities share such a strong similarity with the Elemental Order’s powers since these are two different races from different planets. However, an evocative writing style and intriguing character development keep the reader hooked, in spite of several confusing plot decisions in Elemental Conflict: Independence.