This is the second book in the series, the first of which, Shattered Dreams, was entered into last year’s SPFBO. I enjoyed the first one so when Ulff asked, I agreed to read the second one. This is just as complicated as the first one, which is no surprise. There’s heavy world-building, a lot going on with the different storylines that all mix together in pretty complicated ways. There are a bunch of unfamiliar and long names. Ie: Urgraith Mireynh – General of Chanastradh. I have to say, since I read so many books, and this one is so complicated with unfamiliar names, I could have really used a refresher at the start. It took me several chapters to get back on my feet and understand what was going on. I actually re-read the last chapter of the last book to get me back up to speed.
This book picks up right after the events of the first book, Drangar was attacked by an “unknown” person, which has left him unconscious and very near death. Drangar’s attacker was able to use five different spells at once which is an unreal amount of power. Ealisaid’s a wizard and she goes to investigate the scene where Drangar and two others were attacked. Ealisaid is able to make a room “remember” what sorts of spells have been used recently, and she’s able to peel back the layers of magic to identify different sorts of spells. She remembers her teachers struggling to keep three spells going simultaneously, so when she finds out the attacker had cast five spells at once she’s both concerned and impressed. The strength of the spells are also unheard of – Drangar was being held in an invisible forcefield of sorts, and where the forcefield touched stone, it melted. While Ealisaid and others are trying to find out who the assassin was and where they went, Drangar lies in bed and is very close to being dead.
Meanwhile, there’s an army outside the gates and they mean to take over the city and establish themselves as conquerors. You can think of these guys as the villains since our main POV, Drangar, is on the other side – but they aren’t the evil mustache-twirling villains. They’re just an army doing their job, more or less – I really do like this sort of plotline where it shows people on either side of a war just being ‘people’. It gets a little tiresome to have a world domination villain trying to destroy everything just for the sake of destruction.
Ealisaid’s powers may be needed to fend off this invading force, but she’s drained herself significantly lately. Magic in this world can come with a cost, and it’s described as using “probabilities and finalities”. When a mage disturbs/recreates reality with a spell, they are messing with the “possibilities” of the universe, changing all the possible outcomes into what they want it to be. When doing that, they sacrifice themselves – Ealisaid turned a bunch of people invisible to hide them, and since then she’s become skinny, and weak. When Kaldinar asks for her assistance with keeping away the invaders, she’s left wondering if she can be of any help at all, or if it would kill her.
I think my two favorite characters are Ealisaid and Drangar, we get the most page time with them it feels like, and as a result, I got to know them a lot better. Although I like getting to see two sides of a war, I never found myself connecting much to their characters. I liked seeing what was going on, but I didn’t find myself rooting for them either. Maybe it was written that way intentionally since they are the invading army after all.
It gets a little spoilery to talk about all the unanswered questions I had left over from the first book, but I think I liked finding out what happened to the elves the most. It’s something that was nagging at me through the first book and finally was answered in this one! Yay!
The pacing in this one is hard for me to judge at the start because it took me a bit to get back into it, but I’d say if you’re fresh off Shattered Dreams this one will have similar pacing. It’s a slow but steady book – it’s not dragging, but it’s not exactly fast paced hack and slash action either. There are a lot of moving pieces and much of this book is left up to the reader to figure out. Many things are left in the background kind of like GRRM where you need to read between the lines and make connections for yourself.
Overall I enjoyed this one, and it will be for people who love complex worlds, lots of different angles, and intense world building.
- multi pov
- world building
- female pov
- military pov
- lost civilizations
- Plot: 12.5/15
- Characters: 12/15
- World Building: 13.5/15
- Writing: 11.5/15
- Pacing: 11/15
- Originality: 11/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 7.5/10