Author: Chris Galford
Date Published: October 2013
Recommended Age: teens and up
Reviewed By: Tara Fox Hall
Conflicting dedications to duty and revenge have gutted the Idasian Empire, leaving its royal family in tatters and a host of opportunists snapping at the scraps. In desperation, they turn their hopes to a foreign face, praying for reprieve against the dark plots determined to see them dead.
Meanwhile in the east, hiding among the starving remnants of the imperial army, Rurik Matair has survived attempts on his own life, and war besides, only to become isolated from those he cares most about. But even as the madness of a nation infects the heart of the army, a new commander offers the hope of stability—and the possibility that new changes will right old wrongs.
Yet one cannot hide from truth. As Rurik and his friends face the reality of those around them, young and old alike are forced to realize a terrible fact: even faith can crumble, and what stalks its ashes might be something far worse.
“Love. That was all he wanted. Essa’s love. Friends’ love. A famil to have and to hold and to take the pain away. I am a child, a needy child, ever and always and he despised how he sounded, yet he could not help but offer his true heart, to for once honestly unveil the whole of its sundering.”
This was perhaps my favorite passage of the book, but each chapter was filled with good lines of equal merit.
This is a very well-written second chapter of the trilogy (or perhaps series?) of the story that began in the first installment, The Hollow March. The author’s style is very descriptive, his fantasy realms realistic with the horrors of wartime. The despair of this conflict which is very present throughout this book for most of the characters is pervasive and comes through each page, and one of the reasons it took me so long to complete this review.
I do caution that this is a slow moving work. As in most fantasy series/epics, there are many characters, all with their separate histories and their own paths/plans/pains. There are also long lapses in the action of the book where flashbacks tell more background, and past events. These passages do make the book lag between character’s dialogue, so when one character is responding to a question on the previous page asked by another character, the reader may need to go back to the last dialogue to find out just what was asked. But fans of book series such as Game of Thrones will enjoy these aspects of this work.
I liked Essa and Voren in this installment as much as the last, though Essa’s preoccupation with her sad history was a bit much to take at times. I found myself liking Rurik much better than the previous work, as he has matured much, probably in no small part now for all the tragedy and blood he’s seen, as well as his unrequited love for Essa. The conclusion of the work was shocking to me, but also moving, and left me wondering where the third installment of this series will go. Somewhere more uplifting, I hope!
Overall opinion: If you like fantasy series, you’ll enjoy it! Just make sure to start with the first book.