Soon, Michael’s on a bona fide quest to find and destroy someone named “Annihilator”—and stop the armies of another mysterious figure identified only as “S.” From there, Mendoza and his hero both commit to what seems like a traditional fantasy story and interrogate its underlying assumptions, as Michael again must journey not just across a realm and its City of Dreams but deep into himself. There’s bloody action fit for the pulps, described with vigor, but also pained attention to the urgent question of whether “the burden” of taking lives will “grow heavier as the death toll grew—or would it grow lighter?”
While Mendoza again digs into matters of the soul and self, and a lesson about compassion, the pulsing heart of this volume in the series is an old-school chosen-one portal fantasy, complete with vivid monster encounters, surprising friends, tantalizing prophecies, weird gods, and weirder vehicles. Tying it all together is practical-minded contemporary man’s responses: “Uh, guys?” Michael says, when he notes that the approaching dune buggies are equipped with machine guns.
Takeaway: A vivid fantasy sequel packed with weird gods and another world’s fantastic war.
Great for fans of: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Joel C. Rosenberg’s Guardians of the Flame: The Warriors.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-