This book picks up 5 years or so after the events of the first book. It’s going to be difficult to talk much about the plot without spoiling things, so I suggest you not read this unless you’ve read the first book. I audiobooked this one as well and I apologize for any spelling gaffs.
Following the death of the Queen, the land has been split into three factions – those following Rufra, those following Thomas, and those following Ador. A complex situation arises where Girton is forced to accept a mission from Ador – to go to Rufra’s camp and plead for him to look for a spy in his midst. Ador is convinced that someone is trying to kill Rufra and this isn’t the Ador we get to know in the first book. Over the last 5 years he’s had an almost 180 turn around in his personality. On the surface he appears to be a changed man, humble, good to his followers, and ready to give up power to follow Rufra. Girton is extremely wary of working with Ador, but doesn’t see a choice. In the very beginning of the book, his master is hurt and it’s Ador that saved her life.
When Girton arrives at Rufra’s camp and explains the situation he’s met with an almost unyielding resistance on Rufra’s part. He is absolutely opposed to the idea that anyone in his camp could possibly be a spy. He trusts his people implicitly which makes it very difficult for Girton to do his job properly. Another major issue he’s dealing with is Merila’s health. She was cut with a poisoned blade, and despite her best efforts to cut the poison out of herself she remains extremely ill. Ador has sent a healer along with them to try and help Merila, but Girton doesn’t trust him either, suspecting him to have some sort of plan to undermine Rufra’s rule.
To make things more complicated, a priest is killed in Rufra’s camp and it’s starting to divide his followers. The priest was either loved and followed or absolutely hated, depending on who you talk to in the camp. It makes the list of suspects long and it’s tedious to try and weed through who had the right motive and the right timing to get that job done.
Man did I get pissed off at Girton in this book – more than once, actually. There are times he acts more like a child in this book than he did in the first one. I sort of let it slide off when he was younger, but now that he’s in his early 20’s it’s about time he stop acting like an angsty teenager. He’s sometimes aware of his behavior and how the consequences of it could come back to haunt him, and yet he does it anyway. There were a few decisions in this which almost made me throw the kindle at the wall. “No, wtf are you doing?!”. However, I still managed to stay in his court and hope the best for him. Each time he did something stupid I was hoping he’d come up with a way to fix it.
I really loved Rufra in this one, it’s nice to see a leader who actually cares for his people, and even those that aren’t technically ‘his people’ – he cares deeply about casualties of war, particularly children. He’s a very easy character to like in this, and I found myself taking his side a few times when he and Rufra were at odds. However, he’s SO benevolent and SO trusting that you can see where he’s going to stumble and fall into a trap. Nywolf believes there’s a spy, and despite not trusting Ador, even Girton believes there’s probably a spy, and yet Rufra keeps putting up serious resistance.
I found that there were a lot of purposefully repeated phrases, kind of like Abercrombie and “you’ve got to be realistic about these things”. I found them to be used lightly and effectively and brought out the right emotions in me. I’ll also say that the narrator for these books does an excellent job delivering the emotion with the right timing and emphasis, I really enjoyed the audiobooks.
I’ve read this entire trilogy in under a week so it’s safe to say this is one of the better series that I’ve read in a long time. I typically stop at book 1 unless it’s something that grabs me and doesn’t let go – and when that happens I tend to binge them all in one go.
- murder mystery
- Plot: 13.75/15
- Characters: 13.5/15
- World Building: 13/15
- Writing: 13.5/15
- Pacing: 14/15
- Originality: 12.5/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 9/10
Final Score: 89.25/100 – 5 stars, highly recommended