This is the second book in the duology. The first is Blood and Iron. Both are part of the Promethean Age –series of books. However, the other books are set in different time periods so it’s not really a continuing series although of course there are same immortal characters in the books. I recommend reading Blood and Iron before this one.

Whiskey and Water is set seven years after the end of Blood and Iron (BaI). All of the surviving characters from BaI are seen here, too, and there are also a lot of new characters. Indeed, the cast of characters here is remarkably larger than in the previous book. There are also a lot more point-of-view characters. This was a bit of a problem for me because I vastly prefer just one or at most three POV characters. However, since some of them were familiar from the previous book, I wasn’t too irritated.

The familiar POV characters are Queen Elaine of the Seelie Court, Whiskey the Kelpie, and Matthew Magus formerly of the Prometheans. Elaine is still queen despite the plotting factions in her court. Her relationship is a bit strained with her son, though. Ian still blames Elaine for the deaths of his girlfriend and his unborn child. Also, the previous queen the Mebd appointed Ian as her successor and some factions in the court think that Elaine isn’t the legal ruler. In order to be the queen of faeries Elaine has given her soul to Whiskey. So, she can’t really feel much of anything. Also, her husband Keith is the legendary Dragon Prince whose fate is to kill a lot of people and be betrayed by someone near him. However, Keith is in Hell. He went the instead of Elaine.

Whiskey has ruled mercilessly the world’s oceans for times without end. However, now that he has a soul he can’t be as ruthless as before. His underlings have noticed this and some of them think it’s time Whiskey gave way to someone who can really rule. The others have stopped obeying his orders and the orders of Elaine. Whiskey himself wishes that Elaine would take his soul back because he has fallen in love with her and is now her occasional lover. Elaine, of course, can’t answer his feelings. Whiskey can’t help but to be loyal to her.

The former mage Matthew is in just as sorry a state as the other two. He can’t control his magic but at the same time he can’t stop hearing what New York City is telling him. He has broken all contact with Jane Adraste who was his mentor and is the only surviving full mage of the Prometheans. Jane has started to gather to herself new apprentices and Matthew isn’t happy about it. He couldn’t avenge his brother and he doesn’t really fit into the new world after the faeries revealed their existence to the world.

The book has a lot of new characters. Jewels wants to be a fae so badly that she has cut pointed tips into her ears. She’s also cut herself otherwise most of her life. When her friend Althea is killed gruesomely in the streets of NYC the authorities and Matthew think that the faeries are involved. The Merlin and Matthew take Jewels and her friend Geoffrey into the Seelie Court to find justice. Elaine gives Jewels as a servant to her son Ian so that Jewels can learn the skill to survive in the faerie lands.

Christopher Marlow has lived hundreds of years in hell as one of Lucifer’s pets. Now he finally has a chance to get back to world that has changed much. Marlow was part of the Prometheans when he was alive and has started to think that their goal of ridding the world of the faeries isn’t right.

There’s also Lily Wakeman who belongs to a Wicca group and gets far more than she thought when she starts a romance with one of the men in the group. It turns out that Lily has natural power of her own. She’s also transsexual.

Donall Smith is a NYC detective but he finds out that poking into the affairs of Jane Adraste can be dangerous. Especially when you yourself have magical power. The archmage may even make you an offer you can’t refuse.

The daughter of Mannannan Mac Lir is still alive and well. She’s a swan maid who knows Lucifer and Archangel Michael as well as Marlow.

Felix Luray used to be a member of the Prometheans. Now he’s trying to get back to the good graces of his archmage.

And a host of other characters. There’s even three devils: Marlow’s Lucifer Morningstar, Milton’s Satan, and a modern, more vicious devil. The Archangel Michael walks the earth as a woman. Morgan Le Fay lives in the Faerie world with her two hounds.

In a world were any and all stories can come true, human perception shapes a lot of things.

This book is just as dark as the previous one. Hope and sympathy are rare things in the cruel faerie world as well as in hell. Human world is a little bit better but only when the humans make it so. The pace is quick considering the size of the cast.

Bear’s writing style has also improved. While in BaI she wrote in tight third point-of-view and only changed the point-of-views between scenes, here she quickly and deftly changes the view as needed even inside a scene. Her writing is very beautiful and fits the grim world well; Bear’s writing makes the world bearable to read about and to even enjoy. She writers immortal and famous characters easily and manages to even surprise the reader at the end.

Oh and did I say that I love the book?