Packed with thematic descriptions and evocative prose (“Caeli looked up through the forest canopy covering the sacred site like a baldachin, staring at the glimmer of stars as if they were actors performing the story of her life”) , this fantasy is engaging, with many inspiring characters to root for. However, while Lücke does a good job of establishing each character’s end goals and all that’s at stake, the plot is spread thin between the cast, and readers may wish for the opportunity to spend more time with their favorites. No standout character drives the plot, and most of the major players end up simply trying to get from one place to another,. It’s a somewhat familiar second book phenomenon: While everyone faces challenges in their individual journeys, the novel’s far-reaching view of Enthilen doesn’t quite reach climactic emotional heights.
For those who want more realism in their fantasy, Lücke isn’t afraid to tackle darker topics such as rape, suicide, the impacts of slavery, and drug use. Couple this with a rich history and many cultures—including a fair bit of diversity of female and gay characters, and some low-brow humor—and the world feels almost palpable. All in all, this is a solid entry into the fantasy canon, pushing its series forward.
Takeaway: Fans of fantasy with a darker bent, multiple viewpoints, and a sprawling world will find a wealth of material in this second book.
Great for fans of: Steven Erikson, Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B-