I just re-read this to remind myself of the story before I start book 2. I have to say that I enjoyed this story so much more the second time than I did the first. I enjoyed Lio and Griffin the first time, but this time I adored them! I'm not sure why the difference, it might be that I knew the end this time so I could relax and enjoy the story the way I often can't do the first time through.
This time, I couldn't get over how beautiful Lio and Griffin are together. How they've been in love for all these years, but it took something like Lio's slavery to make them willing to explore it completely.
The vision that Lio, Alexander, and the priest share at the end had me in tears this time. Having Lio realize that if he'd taken a different path in life, he wouldn't be where he was was so powerful. It just fully brought home the theme of timing that had been building through the book. Yes, they'd loved each other before, but neither was ready for what that meant until they'd both had the experiences that they did. It was beautiful!
I really liked that even though it's set in this fascinating universe that we're given glimpses of, it focuses more on the main characters and their relationship than on anything else.
I enjoyed the exploration of strength/weakness and submission/dominance and the evolving viewpoints both men had on these themes. I loved the tender moments between these two, and how they came to trust in and rely on each other both physically and emotionally.
I loved how they both came to realize that they weren't just brought back to what they had before, but that they were brought back to something much stronger and more honest than what they'd had before.
I know the end seemed abrupt to some, but I thought it was perfect. The story was about Lio and Griffin, and ends with them safely returned to their new home. Any further exploration of politics or family relationships or anything else would--in my mind at least--take away from that.
A powerful story, beautifully told by one of the most fascinating 1st person narrators I've yet come across. This story has definitely earned a spot in my comfort reads shelf.