Volunteered to the Future
Title : Volunteered to the Future
Author : H.B. Kurtzwilde
Series : The Secret Art of Failure, Bk.1
Publisher : Loose Id (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Science Fiction
Length : 256 pages (e-book)
Published : December 2, 2013
Rating : ★★★★1/2
Kourt Crowe, the last remaining Servitor assassin, also a shape-shifter, lives to restore the lost golden age of the Fellowship of Servitors. His first husband died over a century ago, and, since then, he’s been fighting his battles alone. This next battle may be more than he bargained for, as he finds himself head-to-head and body-to-body with a promising, but troubled human student.
Evicted from his college for broken vows, self-described five-star hottie Kato Giovanni isn’t ready to hang up his dreams. With his razor-sharp mind and native genius for theoretical mathematics, he convinces bad-ass Master Kourt to take him on as a student. He wants to learn. Really, he does. But he can’t help testing all of his teacher’s boundaries.
Every now and then I come across a book that I really enjoy and I have no clue what it was about or what happened. Yeah, I can list a chain of events but am not necessarily aware of their importance. Consequently, I don’t know how to begin to describe it. Kourt Crowe accepts the responsibility of a student, Kato Giavanni. They call each other Master Crowe and Vanni. They head off into the wilderness and begin Vanni’s training. It’s extensive, involves just about everything from cooking to personal stimulation, and lasts a really long time. It becomes pretty plain that Vanni, despite being inordinately talented, is a bit of a personal disaster. In this world there is a system of colleges broken up into different disciplines. Colleges gain students when parents give them away or sell them. Part of Master Crowe and Vanni’s job is to collect children and take them to the colleges. Another part of their job is to kill people their college and the governing board want killed. Amidst all this is a whole lot of sexual tension. Vanni has no concept of mutually enjoyed sexual contact. Having lost a much beloved husband, Kourt can’t reduce any sexual act to a bodily function. Their differing views on sex also stem from the different colleges they’ve learned from and the fact Vanni is human while Kourt is not. As a result of their differing views their unrequited lust gets a little tense. It doesn’t help Kourt may like Vanni more than he wants to admit. He’s still mourning the loss of his late husband.
Because this is a the beginning of a love story set amongst a socio-political drama a lot goes on as Kourt and Vanni slowly start to fall in love. Lots of knowledge is being lost. Decisions made by the colleges leave entire belief systems faltering and vanishing. The universe was once a better place. Kourt wants it to be better again. The trick is figuring out how to make it better and executing the plan without getting executed. Kourt and Vanni do enter a monogamous relationship. Vanni is still a bit of a personal disaster, but he’s really working on it. More and more Kourt is learning how Vanni managed to get himself kicked out of his old college. Vanni is brilliant and Kourt has plans to use that brilliance to his own end.
I wouldn’t say this book had world building so much as an established world into which the reader is thrown head first. This is a spin-off of the Guide to Survival series, so reading that may have given me a leg up. Maybe. In a few instances the characters from the Guide to Survival series are mentioned and there is a scene with the descendants of them. Despite having no clue what was happening for a good portion of the story I still found myself liking it immensely. Yes, my love of science fiction made that easier, but Kourt Crowe was an interesting and complex character. His reluctance to start another relationship has roots in the loss of his husband and his fears Vanni simply isn’t ready. He doesn’t want to get hurt and his shock that Vanni sees him as someone who could conceivably be hurt was beautiful and heartbreaking.
To say that I left out significant details of the story in my summary is an understatement. My summary is not only not fleshed out, it’s not even a complete skeleton. It’s a stick figure. I’ll say this is probably the least helpful review I’ve ever written. This is also the start of a series and both the relationship and the political climate are stable but could easily be thrown into flux. In no way is this an easy read to pick up for an afternoon of escapism. This book demands you pay attention and will leave you thinking and wondering. It also left me wanting the next in the series.
Rated 4.5 stars by Faye