Kallista is a naitan (magic user) of the North school of magic. She can control lightning, and has a hot bodyguard named Torchay who is secretly madly in love with her and carries a lot of knives. Since her magic is only useful for warfare, she's in the army. Her country is invaded, she's in trouble on the front lines, she calls out to God for help, and ZAP!

She gets tons of uncontrollable power poured into her, and is now chosen by the Gods and can do basically anything, since she now has the powers of all the cardinal directions. She also has a Significant Mark, and must find all these other people with Significant Marks. And marry them. All of them. And give them no-touch orgasms. Except mostly she doesn't actively seek them, they just show up, or she randomly runs into them, and marries them the next day. And then there are many no-touch magical orgasms. You think I am making this up, but I am not.

This book had enough elements that I like in the abstract-- unconventional romances (in this case, polyamory), hot bodyguards who carry a lot of knives, complex magic systems, romances between soldier comrades, female soldiers, and a group of mis-matched heroes from different cultures and backgrounds who must work together-- that I did finish it, and yet I cannot recommend it.

It was clunkily written, poorly constucted ("This happened and then this happened," rather than "This happened, and so this happened,") read as if it was a first draft, and the succession of events is often comically abrupt. One guy shows up, displays his mark, and is married to all the other main characters in something like fifteen pages. Kallista is way overpowered, and also rather unlikable. Things keep happening more-or-less of their own accord, or because destiny or God made them happen, rather than because the characters made a decision.

Orgasm is the least interesting part of a sex scene, because one earthshaking orgasm is pretty much the same as the next earthshaking orgasm. Taking out the mechanics of sex and leaving only the orgasm is dead boring, and also un-erotic. And-- this keeps coming up, as it were-- unintentionally humorous. In a non-orgasmic instance of this problem, I dissolved into giggles every time one character very solemnly addressed a senior member of the Barbed Rose School (or some such) as "Master Barb."

Read Diane Duane's The Door Into Fire or Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series for a much better take on some similar themes and plot points.
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