3 stars – I liked it
I began reading this book on March 24, 2022, shortly after finishing the first one and posting the book review for it. If you’re interested in my review for The Gift of Marmidon, click here.
Finished on April 12, 2022.
A Daring Adventure with Twists at Every Turn!
Aeryn has been captured by King Deviss, and he is scheduled for the chopping block with no one to save him. But, he’s the main character, so you know he’s not going to die in chapter one, and after help from an unlikely ally, Aeryn is on his way back to Thoren and Durkquire with Maurrem’s dark cloud hovering just behind. Little does he know, the darkness he is prophesized to defeat is rooted much deeper than the mad king, and he will be faced with far more dangerous foes before Fate is done with him.
This book is just as unique as the first one, and it expands on the worldbuilding while remaining entirely consistent with it. It introduces the concept of razes and razing, a corrupted form of magic, the equal and opposite of weaving. This magic has a peculiar connection with the dark beings of the kingdom, zombie-like creatures known as the vaulberndail—the length of their name being one of the few things I took a dislike to.
Beyond razing, the author also introduces races aside from humans and the ethrea. There are those known as the atle and the therrinndore. Each of these races is unique and considering their natural environments, their evolution makes sense as well, which I always appreciate.
The same cast of characters has returned, with a few to be missed from book one, and with some new faces. I love the changing dynamics between the characters, and near the end comes a big reveal around Aeryn’s family that I hadn’t even considered! Though I would’ve preferred the reveal to be more drawn out, it was still well done and realistic.
The story dives deeper into Maurrem’s past in the form of flashbacks, revealing just about as many of his secrets as it holds back. The author crafts the mystery of this character, skillfully leading the reader to ponder theories. Posed in the first book was also Maurrem’s loyalty to King Deviss, and his motives prove to be far more interesting than greed or power-lust. His evolution as a character and as a villain is reminiscent of Loki from the MCU, as he is mostly out for himself, though willing to serve other masters to accomplish his goals.
As hinted in the first book, there is definitely something blossoming between Aeryn and Kaley, but it’s not without challenges. With the hatred the country has for her father, her presence is less than wanted by those who oppose him. She is still struggling with the death of her close friend and bodyguard, and she hares this feeling of loss with Aeryn, who is struggling with the loss of Robin. As I called out in the first book’s review, though, her redemption arc comes due, though again, the pacing is faster than my preference.
Again, the writing style is different than what I’m used to, and while that’s okay, it carries more grammatical flare than my own style. As such, there were several sentences I had to read several times over before understanding the inflection needed for them to make sense, but these were few and far between.
I like how the book continues its use of the characters’ names for each section, as it also adds new characters we haven’t heard from before. It makes it easy for a reader to keep track of where we are and who we’re focusing on.
The action in this book—especially the end—was satisfying and bold, with just enough chaos to give a bit of disorientation, but also not so much as to confuse the reader. The author followed through with each group in the fight, placing similar importance on each aspect of the plan. Throughout the story, the main issue of battle is ‘uncertainty’. The vaulberndail, as described in the book, are mysterious creatures. Not much is known about them other than they’ve risen from the grave to feed on human souls. They bring with them a dark, cold mist, and hunt prey at night when fear is strongest. They are an excellent villain for the running theme of this book: uncertainty and mistrust reflected through the multiple levels of deception between characters and a rising instability within the country as a whole.
This book is, of course, the second of the trilogy. It really amps up the stakes and hints at a deeper evil that they must face. The third book, The Bane of Jushosh has been released. I definitely recommend continuing this adventure.
Click here to read my review of book 3 (SPOILER WARNING!)
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