Kylac and companions undergo a harrowing journey, pursued by a relentless foe through a deadly landscape. Though Thompson maintains a high level of tension by subjecting his characters to creatively lethal dangers, readers don’t get much opportunity to bond with the cast, lessening the impact of the high body count and numerous sacrifices. Even Princess Denariel fails to shine, acting more as a grumpy plot device than a heroine in her own right.
Kylac, surprisingly mature and skilled for a 16-year-old, tests his limits in the course of his adventures. This entry is clearly meant to stand on its own and set up the rest of the trilogy, but its relationship to earlier installments reduces its accessibility, leaving readers wanting to know more about Kylac’s backstory. Late-in-the-game twists also take this tale in unexpected directions, giving the last quarter of the book a different feel. This fast-paced fantasy is a blood-soaked, no-holds-barred battle for survival that keeps its characters and readers guessing.
Takeaway: Fans of intense action and heroes facing impossible odds and terrifying foes will readily join teen warrior Kylac’s caravan through a perilous fantasy world.
Great for fans of Nicholas Eames’s Kings of the Wyld, Brent Weeks’s Night Angel trilogy, Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+