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Summary

A young pilot risks everything to save his best friend - the man he trusts most and might even love - only to learn that his friend is secretly the heir to a brutal galactic empire.

"Riveting, wildly fun, and incredibly smart." (Emily A. Duncan, New York Times best-selling author of Wicked Saints)

Ettian's life was shattered when the merciless Umber Empire invaded his world. He's spent seven years putting himself back together under its rule, joining an Umber military academy and becoming the best pilot in his class. Even better, he's met Gal - his exasperating and infuriatingly enticing roommate who's made the academy feel like a new home.

But when dozens of classmates spring an assassination plot on Gal, a devastating secret comes to light: Gal is the heir to the Umber Empire. Ettian barely manages to save his best friend and flee the compromised academy unscathed, rattled that Gal stands to inherit the empire that broke him, and that there are still people willing to fight back against Umber rule. 

As they piece together a way to deliver Gal safely to his throne, Ettian finds himself torn in half by an impossible choice. Does he save the man who's won his heart and trust that Gal's goodness could transform the empire? Or does he throw his lot in with the brewing rebellion and fight to take back what’s rightfully theirs? 

Praise for Bonds of Brass:

“Skrutskie’s Bonds of Brass is a high-octane galactic adventure replete with heart, drama, and a keen edge of pain.” (Caitlin Starling, author of The Luminous Dead)

“Full of breathless action and dazzling characters, Bonds of Brass is space opera at its most exciting.” (Adam Christopher, author of Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town)

©2020 Emily Skrutskie (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"An exciting space opera full of action and adventure that explores the bonds of loyalty and love, and what happens when they are stretched to their limits." (Rebecca Roanhorse, Nebula and Hugo Award-winning author of Trail of Lightning)

"A fast-paced space opera with heart and style, Bonds of Brass had me screaming KISS ALREADY on every page." (Delilah S. Dawson, New York Times best-selling author of Star Wars: Phasma)

"Thrilling and unpredictable, this book kept me on the edge of my seat all the way to an end that I did not see coming. All I can say now is...wait for it...wait for it." (Mindee Arnett, author of Onyx & Ivory)

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One of my favorite books this year

An amazing story with excellent tropes and character development! I instantly loved Ettian and Gal, as well as Wen when she came along. It was bittersweet, funny, heartbreaking and soft. I can’t wait for the second book, the cliffhanger is simply too much 🥺

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A light bit of MM sci-fi fluff

This is a light and unchallenging story with an above-average performance by the narrator. I will probably listen to the second book when it is released. There were some things that just didn't read true: in a universe with multi-galaxy empires and faster than light travel by fleets of spacecraft the materials for which are mined from asteroids and whole planets, the peak of land-based public transport is a monorail which uses paper tickets and landbased vehicles sound suspiciously as if they still use internal combustion engines. The technological advances these civilizations have achieved are generic to many other sci-fi scenarios with no new ideas. The blossoming romance is sweet and the boys float through their adventures, seemingly untouchable and unhindered by normal military security routines or any evidence of advances in military security or spy technology beyond what is available in 2020. There is a plot twist towards the end of this book which, again, is not original but is well-timed, sits well in the story and makes the experience of listening to the story familiar and comforting.

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Gays in Space, what's not to love!

honestly one of my new favourites, a great read for someone wants a story where the characters are lgbt but the whole story isnt just that they are gay.

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  • Zell Oakley
  • 15-04-20

I didn't like it, but your mileage may vary

Here's a fun thought experiment you can do when you have a moment: Make a list of some mainstream sci-fi/fantasy novels with male/female romances. Now check off which of them have bisexual protagonists. Then make a list of sci-fi/fantasy novels with male/male romances, and check off the bisexual protagonists. Chances are, you're going to see a discrepancy; actual gay men are very, very rare in fiction compared to bisexuals, particularly when the novel is written by a straight woman. Consequently, you get a disproportionate number of novels like Bonds of Brass where BOTH partners in the m/m romance are bisexual. I have a number of theories as to why this might be the case. The most likely one is that authors who are progressive enough to include a central m/m romance are often so progressive that they believe sexuality is fluid for everyone. This sounds wonderful (not to me, but I suppose to some people it must anyway) but it has the unintended consequence of pretty much erasing gay men entirely. We don't really fit into their worldview. It's the homophobia of the political left, and I'm sick of it. "But Zell!" I hear you say. "Aren't you being biphobic here? Disliking a book simply because it has bisexual characters?" Good point, you. This is the reason for my thought experiment at the beginning of this review. This happens almost exclusively in m/m novels. Once bisexual characters start popping up left and right in sci-fi novels with m/f romances, get back to me and maybe my answer will change. In fact, I defy you to name ONE m/f sci-fi novel where both protagonists are bisexual. And let me be clear: I'm fully aware that the fact that--ONCE AGAIN--I'm reading a m/m romance with no actual gay characters is a terrible reason not to like a book. So accordingly, I'm not giving this less than three stars even though I have no interest in finishing it, ever (you can disregard this sentence, I got myself worked up writing this and downgraded it to two stars). It really did start out well written. But be warned, if you're a young gay man looking for a good non-romance sci-fi novel to pass the time, you won't find yourself in this one. Narration was superb, incidentally.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Lola
  • 15-05-20

Bonds of Brass

After reading a review for this book by one of my blogger friends I knew I had to read this one. It sounded exactly like the type of book I would enjoy. After listening to the sample I decided to get the audio format and I am so glad I did as this book was a joy to listen to. And one of the first male narrators I listened to that really worked for me. Bonds of Brass jumps right into the action, after a short introduction scene you get thrown right into an explosive action scene and I was immediately pulled into the story. The rest of the story continues in a similar feel, some calmer scenes and plenty of action. The story captivated me and the role of these two boys who would do anything for each other in the middle of a galaxy wide conflict. The ending was awesome, while I shortly before predicted the twist I did enjoy the direction the story took, but at the same time I have no idea where this series will go next and I can't wait to see how the author handles it. I love how this series mingles the romance storyline with the action and the more political tinted storyline in this galaxy with different empires. And ofcourse the two main characters are at the center of it all. Add in a totally reckless and adorable female side character. And this was one awesome listen. There are plenty of twists and reveals, a lot of action and great characters. I really liked main character Ettian, in the first chapter you already get a good feel for him. how loyal he is to his friend Gal and how much he cares about him. But that is only the start. Throughout the book you really get to know him and how conflicted he feels over the whole situation. He loves Gal, but when something he never dared wish for is in his path he struggles deciding what to do. I really liked his character and enjoyed following his story. The flight scenes were amazing, you could really feel his love for flying and see how capable he was at it as well. I love a good sci-fi romance book and this book handled the romance really well, especially amidst the whole big galaxy spanning political plot line. I really liked Gal and Ettian together. They started out as friends and the author did a good job giving that vibe that they were good friends already and that slowly turns into more. It was clear how much they cared for one another. But they also have some struggles to go through. Gal is a prince and Ettian a nobody and they could never make this work, but at the same time trying to stay apart is hurting them. And I liked how early on it becomes clear they both feel the same about the other. It's not a question of whether their feelings are reciprocated, but more of whether they are willing to go that way if they know it can't last. And when they finally do grow closer it's amazing and also sad at the same time as you know what is waiting for them. And that ending was beautiful and so heartbreaking. I can't wait to see what happens to their romance in book 2. I hope we get to see more of them together as there wasn't nearly enough of that in this book. One thing that did bother me is how much Ettian gives up for Gal and while I loved seeing how deep his feeling were and how much he was willing to do for him. I also would've loved to see some of that dedication from Gal's side as well. I wanted Gal to show Ettian how much he meant to him as well. I would've liked to get a bit more insight into Gal's personality. I liked the glimpses we got, but I would've liked to know more, maybe that will come in the future books. I liked the world building in this book. You get a good feel for the 3 mayor factions/ empires in this part of the galaxy. There is enough about the political situation and how Umber gained power to get an insight in how things work. I liked how this was worked out and throughout the book you learn more. The story takes place in space and two different planets so you also get to see a bit of the galaxy. I liked the sci-fi spacy feel mixed in with the political plotlines of the Umber empire and the rebellion I am really glad I picked up the audio version of this one. The narrator did a great job with the narration. I liked his voice for Ettian and it was pleasant to listen to. He did the other voices and even the female ones pretty well too. I especially liked his voice for Gal and Wen. I also liked how you could hear the emotion in his voice in some scenes, like when Ettian was happy or angry. It really came across in the narration, which was really well done. I definitely plan on listening to the rest of the series as well. To summarize: I really enjoyed this action packed sci-fi book with a great romance. There is plenty of action, twists and turns. The plot gripped me from the start and I liked seeing where the story went. Ettian made for a great main character and I liked getting to know him. He was so loyal to his friends and I liked how deep his feeling for Gal went and how much he was willing to do for him. But it was also clear how conflicted he was later during the story. I liked their romance and how much they care for one another. Although I would've liked to get to know Gal a bit better and see how much he was willing to do for Ettian as now it felt like Ettian sacrificed so much more for Gal. The scifi world was well done with how we get a good feel for the political situation and how it impacts the galaxy. There are some great space and flying scenes as well. The narrator did a great job with this one. His voice was pleasant to listen to and I liked how he did the different voices. All in all I would definitely recommend this one to those who like action packed scifi stories with a MM romance.

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  • Chris
  • 29-06-20

I feel manipulated and not in a good way

This book was a frustrating experience. I honestly feel like I finished the story knowing less about the main character than when I started it. Main character and narrator, Ettian, spends most of the book fluctuating between supporting his friend and eventual love interest... and betraying him to support the empire that Gal's, said friend and love interest, mother destroyed. You would think that this would create lots of tension for the relationship between Gal and Ettian. You would be right, but that tension gets displayed in increasingly frustrating ways: Ettian complains about Gal questioning his loyalty in one chapter and actively questioning his loyalty to Gal in the next. Keep in mind, Ettian acts increasingly shady as the book progresses, making decions that, even knowing the big twist at the end, are not explainable. What this actually produces in the book is a really uneven character arc for Ettian. The relationship between Ettian and Gal, while being the main conflict in the book, is shelved so Ettian can express his feelings to a manic pixie dream girl, Wen. I really hate Wen in this book. She is introduced as a street smart, savvy youth with a burned face and a rainbow umbrella that has a hidden switch blade. I shit you not, it's a character that screams, "Quirky NLOG here." But, even though it's a bit cliche, that is not my problem with Wen. It's just that the way she is written, and the way she comes off in the story is that of an interloper. She is a character that shouldn't care about what Ettian and Gal are doing, but does anyway because the writer wanted her there. She also becomes the cipher for Ettian to express his growing dissatisfaction with the direction Gal is taking, politically, in the book. And, reading between the lines, will be a future romantic interest for Ettian, however much the idea of this upsets me. It really floors me that, in a supposed queer romance novel, most of the expressed romantic tension is found in a m/f friendship. I mentioned it briefly earlier, but we really need to talk about the twist. Writer Emily Skrutskie managed to make a twist ending that was both predictable and incredibly silly. Warning for spoilers ahead....... It turns out that Ettian and Gal have something in common: they are both blood heirs to their respective empires. Now, blood heir is a term that is painfully common in fantasy, but seems to be seen less often in sci-fi. I guess that most societies that perfect space travel have already passed the "monarchies are a stable way to run a government" phase of adolescence but "Bonds of Brass," asks us to pretend with them anyway. The novel asks us to take the whole blood heir thing seriously, even alluding to a potential supernatural effect of having royal blood. Gal is able to go from an apparent Umber empire deserter to a key force in the Archon rebellion taking back their home planet (Gal and Ettian are both 17, btw). Gal even leads the strike mission that was actually a Machiavellian plot to undermine and defeat the Archon rebellion and solidify his future role in the Umber empire. The truth of Ettian's blood line is revealed, almost incidentally, in the penultimate chapter in the novel. I swear, it was so god damn upsetting I almost returned the book for that, alone. Gal is captured and held prisoner by Ettian's Archon forces and the reader is left wondering how much of Ettian's actions in the book were actively planning for this outcome (it is somewhere between 0 and 100 percent, I'm certain.) I really hate the whole blood heir thing. Letting your main characters have super powerful king blood that makes them fit to rule a multi-planet empire comes off as kinda... fascist? I dunno, ymmv. World building was nice and the narration was superb. I had no idea who Ettian was as a person, but James Fouhey sure sold it well.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Pup Cerberus
  • 21-05-20

swinging between a 2 and a 4

predictable book end guessed at chapter 1, characters IQs drop when Wen joins the party.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 23-11-20

Amazing

absolutely amazing. Can't wait for the next book!!! action adventure just so awesome. So Good!!!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 28-07-20

hold in to the end

loved Edian from start to finish. Gale however is hard to like just to whiney for my like. huge twist at the end which I didn't not see coming at all. can't wait for the next book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Entropy_Hater
  • 20-07-20

AAAAAAAAAAAA

AMAZING SPECTACULAR ICONIC I NEED THE NEXT ONE NOW WHY DOES IT NOT EXIST AGONY

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sydni C.
  • 14-07-20

Wow, just wow!

I dont normally leave reviews, but this story is one of the most fun I've found on Audible. It's got a love story, action, and anything else you can ask for. I can't wait for book 2!!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • V Epps
  • 20-06-20

a good sci-fi romance

I loved it. A good twist at the end. Although even with it the story appears to be a little bit too predictable. I can't wait to read the next book.

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  • neichan
  • 11-06-20

Great beginning

OK. I seem to keep finding myself being faced with challenging reads/listens. Like the narrator a lot. Loved the beginning of the book. I'm a little disappointed in the last half of the book, it seems dragging as if progression is impossible. The two main characters are fun and engaging when we first meet them. Then depressing toward the end. Problem after problem. I do think the book has a bit of a YA feel, but not too much. Some nice descriptions, sensuality, but an awful lot of rumination slows things to a crawl. Wen is sort of a challenge from the very start. Wen isn't developed enough. All difficulty and no enjoyable traits. One stressor after the other. She almost kills you, no worries! She almost does it again, no worries! Jeez. I'm not really having fun here. The end is ok, maybe saves it a bit, but makes me question many moments earlier in the book.