Title: By King’s Order
Author: Ann Anderson
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 16,000 words
Genre: m/m, Fantasy
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Griffin Shifters, Military, Suspense, Short Story, The Bestiary Collection, Warriors, Love Triangle?
Rating: Pretty Good
Reviewed by Nikyta
Aldrick’s required two years as a soldier are nearly finished, and then he can finally return to his simple farming life. Then he is forced into joining the hunt for a griffin egg, a suicidal mission that Aldrick wants no part of. His plans to avoid the matter, however, are shattered when he comes across an injured griffin and soon finds himself far more invested in the matter of griffins than he ever wanted.
Aldrick’s time as a soldier is nearly finished when he is anonymously volunteered to hunt for a griffin egg. Aldrick wants no part of the hunt but unless he wants to be deemed a traitor, he must participate. His plan is to stay well behind the others and just go along for the ride. Unfortunately, when he finds an injured griffin, his plan changes and he does everything he can to bring the little griffin home even if it means fighting his own people. With the help of his friend, Lor, Aldrick gets knee deep in blood and the griffins nest. He just has to figure out where his loyalties lie and how that’ll affect his family.
The world this story takes place in is very fascinating. Not having read many stories with griffin shifters, I really enjoyed the mannerisms they had and how protective they were of their nest and the eggs. I had a ton of questions about them because it seemed like the only griffin who could shift was the leader, Phire, but no explanation was given on why no other griffin shifted. Aside from the time spent with the griffins, there isn’t much detail about anything else. We get a brief explanation about Aldrick’s past and the old man he considered a second father. We understand that Aldrick is worried about his family and confused over why he was volunteered for the hunt but beyond that, this story lacks a lot of detail.
If you’re looking for a romance, though, this one doesn’t pack a lot of that. In fact, I was confused for a good majority of the story if this would be a ménage because both Lor and Phire seemed to be attracted to Aldrick but there’s never any development on their relationships. While the story alludes to Aldrick and Phire being the main couple, there’s no actual actions that suggest there’s any feelings between the two besides a brief spout of jealousy.
My biggest enjoyment of the story was the action, though. There’s a surprising amount of suspense because Aldrick, Lor, and the griffins are trying to protect the griffin nest. It was interesting to see how they fought and I loved the details around it. The story is really too short for the execution, however, because the ending seemed very abrupt and I was honestly confused about what was going on, how Aldrick was going to live and what exactly would happen between Aldrick and Phire. I think a few more chapters would have been beneficial if it had explained the outcomes and answered some questions. As it was, the ending seemed out of place with the rest of the story.
Overall, not a bad book but it left me with a lot of questions. It was hard for me to believe the feelings that developed between Aldrick and Phire because there’s no build up to it. The world is very interesting and I enjoyed reading about the griffins but it lacked a clear and concise execution, which ultimately distracted me from the story.