The Jaguar Knight is the final book in the Ars Numina series, which I see I’ve managed to read and reread, but not review. If you are interested, and why wouldn’t you be, you’re going to want to start with the first book, The Leopard King. This final book in the series completes the arc and provides the emotional payoff set up in the first book.
Ars Numina is a series of interconnected stories which over 6 books tell the story of allied societies whose coexistence is threatened by a drive towards conquest and authoritarianism. As factions in each group work together to defeat the tyrant who wants to subjugate everyone, they move towards building a society built on interdependence instead of mere coexistence. The Numina are human plus. There are the Animari (the animal shifters – cat, wolf and bear), the Golgoth, and the Eldritch (like the fae). Aguirre pairs characters who aren’t obviously meant for each other, some who would consider themselves natural enemies, and through their adventures, they choose to be vulnerable, to trust and to love.
At the beginning of the series, Slay was defacto running the cat shifter community in the absence of the official leader, Dom. At the end of the first book, Slay has disappeared and there is some question as to whether he was a traitor or a captive. Ro was one of the Golgoth Prince Alastor’s Exiles who was captured and taken back to Golgerra as a traitor. Golgerra is a city inside a mountain, with an underclass fed only enough to survive and forced to work in sweatshops. Slay and Ro meet in the undercity where Ro is able to reconnect to the resistance. Slay and Ro start a fake relationship to mask their insurgent activities. Very quickly their relationship becomes real and they help each other heal the trauma of the past.
The Ars Numina series was written over the last four years. I found it cathartic to have authoritarianism crushed while in real life I’m feeling like authoritarianism is a many headed hydra. The Jaguar Knight pays off the ideas of the previous books about rebuilding a more just world. One of the reasons I love the romance genre is because it reminds how we can be open to change and transformation. It might be something as profoundly personal as accepting another person loves us as we are, or as large as tearing down oppressive system and rebuilding a more just world.
I received an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.