Zzzzz. Mmmm. Wha? Sorry? Oh right, I was reading, not sleeping. It's just that this book? Bored me to death. Too simple, too easy, too predictable, toZzzzz. Mmmm. Wha? Sorry? Oh right, I was reading, not sleeping. It's just that this book? Bored me to death. Too simple, too easy, too predictable, too vague for any real tension, nor for any real sense of character to develop for the entire cast. An interesting idea - what happened to the Twelve Dancing Princesses after their curse is ended - but turned out to be a rather blah, and uniformly boring read....more
Fun, if light on characterization and worldbuilding. Princess of the Midnight Ball is easy to read, light, but feels more MG than a YA novel, in my opFun, if light on characterization and worldbuilding. Princess of the Midnight Ball is easy to read, light, but feels more MG than a YA novel, in my opinion. Fast, somewhat fun, true to the fairy tale it is based on, this retelling is charming, if a bit too simple and easy to merit more than 2.5 out of 5 stars....more
A short, vastly entertaining steampunk short story with a sled dog race, betrayal, alchemy and contraptions unheard of. Kali was just the right amountA short, vastly entertaining steampunk short story with a sled dog race, betrayal, alchemy and contraptions unheard of. Kali was just the right amount of feisty -- not enough to be obnoxious but no pushover -- clever, and believably self-reliant. Kali is smart and determined to win her race and get out of Moose Hollow forever. The best part of the story is the chemistry, dialogue, and interaction between Kali and the cryptic Cedar, and the fluid, humorous narrative which moves along quickly. The action and tension build rapidly and keep your interest throughout. One of the main reasons I love steampunk (and at a larger view, fantasy) is because the author can be completely, uniquely creative and inventive and that's just what Buroker did here. Her Yukon is recognizable, but undeniably her own. This was a highly enjoyable novella that I would love to see expanded upon or succeeded by a follow-up. I would have rated this a 5-star book, but I just simply wanted more to the story; I need to know what Cedar's real name is! More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
I struggled mightily with this book. I liked the idea for the story (descendants of the Olympian Gods hRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
I struggled mightily with this book. I liked the idea for the story (descendants of the Olympian Gods have a hidden, secret Empire in present day and also vampires, werewolves, etc). However, it was a good idea poorly executed in many parts of this looong book.
Coming in at 662 pages, this is far from the longest book I've read this year. However, I feel like I was counting every single one of those six hundred odd pages; it literally sapped my strength to finish this book. Why? Well, my first issue was the pacing. Incredibly, ridiculously slow and filled with little real content. The beginning suffers the most from the meandering pace, and thus made it hard for me to connect to the characters or to be invested in the outcomes for Delia, Evan, Beth, Niko and Victor.
Additionally, the writing itself seemed very awkward and stilted at times. It simply didn't flow the way a novel should; there were abrupt transitions and awkward dialogue and exposition many times in the pages. Also, THE GRAMMAR. Abysmal. Truly, truly abysmal. I am aware this is a self-published author so she may not have the same resources, but it was truly egregious. "There" for "their/they're" many, many times, "here" instead of "hear", not correctly using quotation marks, or not even using them at all, among other offenses. The amount of editing errors were very distracting from the story and also just plain aggravating after a while.
Delia is the main character of Betrayal, a descendant of Zeus and soon-to-be Empress of the gods remaining Empire. She is not original, there is very little to differentiate Cordelia from thousands of teenage protagonists in YA paranormal fiction. Delia is a distant and aloof character, both with the remaining cast and with the reader. She's hard to sympathize/empathize with, and tends to keep everyone in the book at arms length. She is more likable as the novel progresses, but continued to be a source of frustration for me. She's meekly accepting when she should be demanding and questioning. She relies on others to protect her constantly, never once taking an imitative to defend herself, and often flouts the protection that is extended to her. I know the author was striving to make Delia appear independent and determined, but she ends up more careless and self-centered. She has genuine chemistry with her love interest, Evander the descendant of Poseidon, and therefore, the second most powerful descendant besides herself. Evan himself and the centaur Nikolas are probably the only characters I came to care about throughout the course of the novel. However, Evan does seem a bit too perfect.
Evan's younger sister, Bethany, was one of my least favorite characters this year in any novel. She's a very unfriendly character and fails to connect with anyone in the book besides her brother and her lover. I found her actions and attitude toward her "best friend" Delia to be completely perplexing and rude. She was a veeeery grating character; demanding when she should be helping, controlling instead of supportive. She's ridiculously inconstant and secretive, only showing a softer side to her love, Niko.
All in all, this was a very mixed effort. I really, really wanted to love this book and in the end, all I feel is underwhelmed and relief that I managed to finish. ...more
Similar to the formula in the first book of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, the main character in the fourth of the series is a Godmother named Aleksia orSimilar to the formula in the first book of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, the main character in the fourth of the series is a Godmother named Aleksia or the Ice Fairy/Snow Queen of Ever-Winter. Also like Elena, she was a failed Traditional story twice, hers being that of the Snow White/Rose Red and the murderously jealous sister that covets a twin's husband. I have enjoyed this series so far, and this latest effort was no exception. The characters were interesting and vivid, as well as fresh and engaging. The instant coupling up that the previous books had wasn't the same for Aleksia, which I though was an improvement. She developed as her own character, rather than an part of a dependent pair. There were no major problems with this book for me. The pacing felt a bit off in the beginning fifty pages or so, and the editing could surely use some work. However, both of those are minor complaints in the larger view of a detailed, fun, fast read. Her male protagonists have vastly improved in characterization, personality, depth and charm since the first book, as well. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
Charming from the fist page, the latest installment of The Five Hundred Kingdoms is retelling/reinvention of several different influences. There is aCharming from the fist page, the latest installment of The Five Hundred Kingdoms is retelling/reinvention of several different influences. There is a bit of The Little Mermaid, and elements of Russian folktales and a bit of Greek legend (Sirens/Siren blood). I enjoyed this one just as much as One Good Knight and considerably more than The Fairy Godmother. The Tradition has less impact upon the lives of Katya and her family than the previous novels because they are part of the Sea King's underwater Kingdom, but it is still a strong force within the series. Like previous novels, Katya is paired up with a love interest almost instantly, but unlike the first three, she is then separated from him and he must find her and free her on his own. Ekaterina, or Katya is the most genuinely likeable, if not relatable, female protagonists this far in the series. Likewise for Sasha, as he is just as likeable as Peri and Adam, and much more so than Alexander. My only real complaint is that I do wish that the names for places had been a little more thought-out or just even more original. "Dry Lands", "Nippon", and "Belarus" felt like an easy/unoriginal way out for Lackey to name important parts of the story. A little more disguising of who their real-world Earth counterparts are would do a lot for the atmosphere of the story. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
This was a drastic improvement over the first in the series of the Five Hundred Kingdoms. Almost none of the problems I had from the first novel wereThis was a drastic improvement over the first in the series of the Five Hundred Kingdoms. Almost none of the problems I had from the first novel were in this sequel, and it was vastly more entertaining to read than The Fairy Godmother. Instead of focusing on the "Cinderella" fairytale, the second book is about the Greek legend of the Andromeda sacrifices in a small, poor Kingdom with no Godmother. First on the list of vast improvements is Andromeda herself. Andie is the main character and is actually that, a character instead of a cliche. She's smart, bookish, resourceful, and clever. She's a very engaging character, as were the villains of the story (which surprised me). Second on the list, the conflict and resolution did not seem nearly as rushed as the end of the first book. The entire novel felt more well-planned, thought out and written. It's also much funnier and filled with more fleshed out characters instead of one-dimensional second-rate "personalities". One minor problem I had was that sometimes the actions of a character would make absolutely no sense, as in did nothing to help that character out and were blatant attempts to make the ending work to its predictable Traditional path. That being said, the ending did surprise me in a way that I totally loved and grinned while reading. A much better book than the first and I look forward to the next. ...more
Interesting and clever premise for a series. Subtly subverting the archetype of Cinderella, Lackey interprets the fairy tale in an original and fun taInteresting and clever premise for a series. Subtly subverting the archetype of Cinderella, Lackey interprets the fairy tale in an original and fun tale. I think the opening chapters fell a little bit flat, and were slightly boring the first hundred pages or so. I liked her idea for how magic works and is channeled through certain people via The Tradition, shaping and creating different versions of classic fairytales throughout the Five Hundred Kingdoms. The main character was annoying at first, but she grew on me, like the rest of the book did. The other characters in the book were fairly one-dimensional and lacked any real fire, except for maybe Alexander. It was not as good as I hoped, quite honestly, but it improved drastically after all the introductory details and background were finished. The only other main issue I had with the story was that the final conflict and resolution seemed rushed and stilted in their execution. A decent effort, overall enjoyable and easy to read. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
In what was originally planned as the concluding book in the Iron Fey series, The Iron Queen neatly tieRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
In what was originally planned as the concluding book in the Iron Fey series, The Iron Queen neatly ties up most plot-lines, while creating enough new questions and emotions to trouble the reader long after the final page wraps up. Meghan, Ash, Puck and Grimalkin must once again team up, and struggle with each other and the forces of the Courts to save the Nevernever from the iron poisoning of the false king. This unlikely group of lovers, enemies, friends, and cats is the heart of all these novels; each character adds something unique and necessary to the mix. One of the things I love about this book is that in a world of harsh segregation and racism, it is a motley bunch from all three realms (Winter, Summer, Iron) that volunteers to save everyone, regardless of their affiliation. From the Court of Summer (Meghan herself, Puck), and Winter (Ash), and Iron (Ironhorse/Glitch/gremlins) and even the independent cait sith (Grimalkin) this group of individuals sets out to achieve what no 'normal' group of faeries would even contemplate.
In the third foray into this compelling and entrancing world, further glimpses of the Nevernever outside of the Summer and Winter Court are shown. Societies and cities (like the giant city of Mag Tureidh) are shown, and even become important settings for the novel. I appreciated the change of scenery in the story: in the first two books The Iron King and the Iron Daughter, the focus is mostly on the Iron fey themselves and the world they've created. The explorations of the group allow them (and the reader) a view into the Iron realm, Arcadia, Tir Na Nog, the wyldwood and everywhere else they must go. Each new place and denizen serve to illustrate how dangerous, alluring and just different from humans all the fey, Sellie/Unseelie/Iron are. With such a large and varied realm like the world of faery, Julie Kagawa teases and hints with details of a place that seems both plausible, interesting and above all, dangerous. Another thing I like about this author's style is that the details of this world are slowly doled out and revealed, making it appear that as Meghan discovers this world, so does the reader.
Speaking of revelations, there is much more insight into the periphery characters than in previous novels. Ash is shown to have more sides than just the "broody, silent, sexy protector" he's been shown to be and Puck demonstrates his capability for more than just pranks and clever name-calling. The love-triangle issue is dealt with fairly quietly and easily, a fact for which I am most grateful. Meghan herself continues to grow and change in a strong character arc, that over several books, has impressed me greatly. In the first book, Meghan is a passive and almost weak girl. When taunted by her schoolmates Meghan cowers in the restroom. In the Iron Daughter, Meghan gains a bit of backbone; enough to confront to powerful faery monarchs. Here, in the Iron Queen, Meghan takes the initiative to learn self defense and "fight her on battles." While the line itself may be a bit hokey and cheesy, I can't help but love when a formerly passive heroine actually decides to change, to take charge and do something. Brava for Meghan. I respect her more for not simply standing back and letting her boyfriend protect her. Meghan's increasing confidence in herself, as well as in her intelligence has waxed large over these books and one of the highpoints of them. Another note about Meghan that I really liked: for a character that is so imbued with potent, unique power, Meghan rarely makes use of her glamours. This relatively human aspect, among characters that shift into birds and turn to ice, keeps Meghan relatable in an inhuman setting. The focus is on Meghan herself, rather than what she can do.
This novel certainly does not suffer from the slow start of book number two. Instead of introducing us to a new and unfamiliar place as before (the Nevernever in general, the Winter Court), the action launches straight from the first page. Picking up right after the final words and events of the Iron Daughter, the Iron Queen wastes no time in getting to plot and the huge problem facing the Nevernever and its traditional fae population. The battles between the Summer/Winter Fey and the Iron Fey are stark and bloody. Described with a gory and gritty feel, the battles came to life and resonated with each character. Mab and Oberon were impressive in battle; I did have hopes for more close scenes but since the main story is Meghan away from the central conflict, I cannot complain too much. The finale/climax was detailed in its superb execution and fulfilling, while managing to wrench my heartstrings and leave me lamenting several twists and turns I had not foreseen. The overwhelming message of this novel, and the ones preceding, is that family is who you love, not who shares your blood.
Though these books are not without problems and faults, I wholeheartedly have loved this series. I am delighted that there is a fourth book about Ash. I'm also intrigued that it is the only one not from Meghan's perspective; it will be interesting to see the Nevernever and also Meghan herself through another's, non-human eyes. ...more
Round number two in the Iron Fey series with Meghan Chase might suffer slightly from a sophmore slump, hoRead This Review And More Like It On My Blog!
Round number two in the Iron Fey series with Meghan Chase might suffer slightly from a sophmore slump, however, as it was the middle branching book in an (originally) planned series of three, some faults were to expected. A bit uneven with pacing and tension (the Winter Formal high school dance scene tossed into the action threw me off for several pages), this was nevertheless a fun, diverting journey into a fully-realized and often strange world. In this book, we find Meghan in the hostile Winter Court, having just killed the Iron King to save the Nevernever from his poison.
This second installment jumps off from the first page; it almost feels like an extension from book one, a later chapter in that same book. The ease with which I was caught up in Meghan's mind and world was astonishing: it was as if I had never left. Though this was a book much more emotional in tone (I'll get to that in a bit) and feeling, I had the same sense of fun and adventure, mixed with interesting and dangerous fae creatures that I experienced and so delighted in while reading The Iron King. The mix of traditional faery lore coupled with new, innovative and creative mythology is unique to Kagawa and absolutely well-thought out and planned. I hate when authors have a great concept and only use it half-heartedly; the fully-realized Iron fey that Ms. Kagawa has envisioned is the best hook this book has to offer. While there is the traditional Summer/Winter Court animosity to keep the both the tension and stakes high, it is the mysterious and implacable Iron Court which dictates the dance those two powers will play. While the first book's plot was simple and essentially outlined from the first chapter, the plot of this second book is more nebulous, with several different subthreads throughout the story.
One of the things I did not love so much about The Iron Daughter was the teenage "why doesn't he love me anymore" angst. Meghan is in love with a mortal enemy of her people, had been warned many times (in The Iron King, Winter's Passage, the beginning of this very novel) that weakness is death in the Winter Court and he cannot be weak in his love for her. Instead of accepting that, "hey, I'm in my enemy's palace, maybe I should do what I am told" Meghan has an emotional hissyfit over Ash's "aloofness." It is very grating on my nerves that a previously capable, intelligent and independent girl cannot handle a situation she's been continually forewarned about. Instead of using her brain to realize Ash is protecting her as best as is possible, Meghan lost major points with me for being too Bella Swan-esque. A character that was not that naive and silly previous to this event frustrated me more than anything else in the novel. Another minor irritation of mine was that in this novel, Meghan forgets several key "faeryland laws" she KNEW in the first book! A little continuity, please -- either Meghan knows not to eat the food, or she doesn't. The constant back-and-forth of what she does know versus what she should know got old.
I was happy to see that the Winter Court was more expanded upon. In its madcap, viscous and chaotic way, the Court and its sidhe were described beautifully and hauntingly. I find myself wishing for more glimpses into the day-to-day life of the fae in this realm, and in the Summer Court. While Mab doesn't appear enough to give a sense of an individual personality (besides a White Witch proclivity to freeze her enemies alive in ice), her two sons besides Ash do finally make appearances. Sadly, besides our well-known players from before and the two Winter Princes Sage and Rowan, no other character in the Winter Court is fleshed out enough to make a permanent impression. This is a problem I had with the secondary villains as well. Only one villain SPOILER (coughRowancough) was malicious enough and present enough to really achieve the same level of malevolence as the Iron King from the first book.
Sadly, a couple scenes almost feel like filler, and the first quarter moves more slowly than the rest of the novel. However, once the titular Iron Fey are introduced back in the fray, calamitous things start to happen and fast. The love triangle because solidified as both Ash and Puck are drawn to the half-human Summer princess, but happily it does not overtake essential plotlines with its banality. The constant repartee between the two male sidhe is amusing and real; they come across as two teenage boys trying to constantly out-do the other. The camaraderie that has built around Meghan's little band (Ash, Puck, Grim, Ironhorse, etc.) enhances successively, the more this disparate group works together. In a world full of segregation and hate, it is interesting to see that the only people/fae that continually save the Nevernever are a ragtag, motley bunch that should never have met, nor even suffered the others to live. In a world of intolerance, these characters are the only ones to display humanity. Meghan, for all her problems and her family in the real world, refuses to walk away and take the easy road. Ash, as Winter Prince, rebels against laws he's followed his whole life. Puck disobeys Oberon numerous times to help Meghan. These characteristics have made me love these characters.
The uneven pacing, and random filler scenes, along with Meghan's initial personality change, make this a more uneven novel than the first. Still enjoyable, still fun and original, The Iron Daughter suffers from many of the problems of being a "mid book" in a trilogy (though now there are four novels - quadrology?) By no means did these relatively small problems in the novel dissuade from my affection for this series/author/heroine/Ash - I am jumping into The Iron Queen later today....more
Consider me a fan of this series! While it may be a bit premature to announce that after reading just oRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
Consider me a fan of this series! While it may be a bit premature to announce that after reading just one book of a planned four (with two novellas as well), by the end of this book I did not want to stop reading. Despite its flaws, despite my initial apathy towards the main character, I was completely won over by this faery tale with a modernday twist.
Meghan Chase is our female main character, a teenage girl of half-human and half Summer Faery lineage. She's special and unique and wonderful, but only in the Nevernever (aka Faeryland - a name I hate and will not use for this review.) At home in backwoods Louisiana, she often feels ignored and neglected by her mother and stepfather. She has one friend, Robbie Goodfell to rely on and depend on in hard times (like in this book when her brother Ethan is abducted and replaced with a creepy creature that looks just like him...) Meghan's determined, very impulsive, intelligent but occasionally annoying. She thinks she's a lot more capable than she actually is -- such as when setting out to rescue Ethan she makes various stupid decisions leading to more than a few repetitive situations where she must be saved by another. The good thing about Meghan Chase is that she adapts and she learns quickly; she doesn't make the same stupid decision twice. Her flaws and faults make her a more fleshed out and real character, in my opinion. Once confronted with the facts of an alternate, hidden fae world, Meghan doesn't bore the reader with thirty pages of "but HOW?!" and "it's just so impossible" or some such nonsense. Instead she does what made me like her more and more as she is confronted with unlikely and dangerous situations: she constantly adapts and plans her next move.
Her best friend Robbie in turn on their quest is revealed as the beloved Robin Goodfellow of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. A living extension of the mythology of this world, of the idea that human belief creating and sustaining the Nevernever, its Courts, peoples, creatures, etc., Robbie has existed for hundreds of years because he is continually popular within human culture. As Puck, I liked the character much more than Robbie. His personality is much more fleshed out and real as opposed to the goofy best-friend stereotype he was in Meghan's mortal life. Puck's irreverent humor and whip-sharp sarcasm were a nice contrast to Meghan's more straight woman act. Sad as I am to say though, in this love triangle my support definitely belongs to the broody Winter Prince, Ash. Though a bit of their relationship is troubling (half the time he's either trying to kill Meghan or she thinks he is), I've always been a fan of the mysterious, strong silent type, a type Ash fits completely. I know I usually despise love triangles in YA supernatural stories, but I was genuinely fond of both love interests so I was not too harsh when considering the inevitable wishwashy back-and-forth to come. It also helps that the triangle doesn;t consume too much of Meghan's inner monologue; as of yet she views Robbie as only as best friend though I predict that will change within a book. I also was a bit miffed at how fast both Ash and Meghan went from "I think you might be trying to kill me and I don't trust you" (about 200 pages) to "Oh my god I love you" (about 30 pages). As much as I like each character, I want more credibility than that, please. Ash is a Winter Prince of the Unseelie Court and Meghan a Summer Princess of the Seelie Court - it's not going to be that easy for two kids to be together when their families are mortal enemies.
Outside of the characters, the author clearly has a vivid imagination and has let it run wild. The easy style makes for fast reading, so it's easy to get caught up in the action and miss the side allusions to a fully-realized and populated world. The author is very visually descriptive without trying too hard to make the words shine, so the focus is on what is said, rather than how it is said. Like the changeling who took Meghan's brother's place that was mentioned earlier. many creatures in this novel are pretty creepy and unsettling. The list of familiar and new-to-me malevolent creatures reads like a horror movie: ogres, goblins, kelpies, norrgens, wisps, redcaps, glaistigs, etc. All were unique and reminded me of fairy tales before they became glossed-over happily-ever-after tales, when they were dark and full of danger and no one in the story made it out as good as it began.
While not human and not monsters either, the fae population of both the 'good' (Seelie/Oberon/Titania/Summer) and the 'bad' (Unseelie/Mab/Winter) at large seem morally grey, with neither side acting particularly humanely nor kindly towards Meghan in her plight. While the Summer Court may not be as openly sinister as the Winter Court (openly stating how much the nobles would like to drink Meghan's blood is disconcerting) neither Oberon nor Titania is sympathetic. Titania is actually enjoyable madcap and malevolent towards her husband's daughter, further isolating Meghan in the only world she has felt at home. While I might have wished for more personality from Oberon or even a sliver of affection shown for his daughter, the overt animosity of Titania worked better to keep Meghan moving and plot advancing. I had hoped for more of Mab as well, but clearly she is to play a much larger role in further books. I look forward to how Kagawa will distinguish her version of the popular Winter Queen from all the rest.
This is an unexpectedly engrossing story. For one populated with old, well used characters and a familiar plot, the Iron King still manages to be original and completely fun faery tale. From vivid action sequences that pop off the page, to a modern-day twist on age-old lore about Fae themselves, I was engrossed in this story, this world and cannot wait to jump into the next book, the Iron Daughter....more
This is yet another riveting entry in the Riyria Revelations series. A year after defeating "Rufus' Bane" in Thrace's tiny village, Hadrian, having loThis is yet another riveting entry in the Riyria Revelations series. A year after defeating "Rufus' Bane" in Thrace's tiny village, Hadrian, having long been weary of his mercenary, wandering lifestyle with Royce, wants something with meaning to define his life other than thieving and spying, even if it's for the Crown. Royce wants to hang on to the life he's achieved with any means necessary- even deception from his closest and only friend. Drawn again into international conflict with Melengar's sneaky princess Arista, Royce and Hadrian have to accomplish this one last job before potentially splitting ways. Intricate and deftly woven, this is another amazing ride with Royce, Hadrian and Arista appearing, along with the renamed Thrace as Modina. I do have to say I had a "I KNEW it moment!!" right before the end of the book, only to have my jaw drop on the VERY LAST PAGE with sheer and utter surprise and freakoutery. A lot of theories I had planned out from this idea were dashed to pieces with a very few words. It was a masterfully, marvelously well done plot twist. These are books that can be read separately, but I do have to say some prior knowledge of recent events and people involved are somewhat necessary to understand the full gist of the power plays, manipulations and deceptions that take place across the board. These characters, especially Hadrian and the surly Royce, are beloved and cherished to me now. I'm very fond of them, and the plot twists and history behind each build a better picture of each. Hadrian, a man full of promise but no outlet and tied to an eccentric friend that really only trusts him alone. Royce emerges as a man with a heart at least, but just for a select few and the reasoning behind his demeanor. A very entertaining read from start to finish. I would highly recommend this series and I hope that the concluding three books are on the same standard as the first three. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more
Avempartha is the second in a series of standalone novels called the Riyria Revelations, and picks up two years after the infamous escapades of RoyceAvempartha is the second in a series of standalone novels called the Riyria Revelations, and picks up two years after the infamous escapades of Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater in Essendon castle. The first book was primarily about a simple sword heist that was not-so-simple at all and all the fall out from said sword-theft/assassination. The second book centers more on the machinations of the Church and whatever measures it deems it has to take to find the Heir and crown him as Emperor once more. Avempartha is a fine sequel to The Crown Conspiracy, building on the knowledge of the world we have from the previous book to create an intricate, delicate and creative world. More backstory on the history of the world, the Empire, the Nyphron Church, the elves and dwarfs are all expanded upon from the first book, creating a credible and believable basis for a world-wide tension among all the races. No longer in Alric's realm, we find our heroes in Colnora, a moderately sized city and the urban center of Avryn, where they are stunned to learn someone has been asking for them... by name. Investigating this anomaly, Royce and Hadrian find themselves enmeshed with a force even they cannot defeat alone. My personal favorites, the charming and funny Pickerings, make an appearance in the novel with two scions of the House, Mauvin and Fanen, joining our intrepid rogues in an unprecedented showdown. The Art, as magic is called in this universe, is expanded upon greatly. We learn more about what used to be possible, how Art functioned and was needed in the days of the Empire to its sad decline to the state it is in during the novels. Esrahaddon, as inscrutable as ever, appears as a harbinger of evil? good? One is never certain what his end game is, who he is using and most of all, what he knows. Esra is by far the most dynamic character in the series thus far, though Hadrian is another personal favorite of mine. Arista is a main character in this novel as Melengar's foreign diplomat and official Ambassador but her brother Alric does not appear. Arista continues to grow into a flawed, intelligent and above all, believable character. At times frustrating, at times determined and likable, Arista continues to grow and change as a character. Royce and Hadrian and clearly the heart of the series. Their interactions and dialogues are like old friends that can count on each other, and in the end that's one of the things that keeps me coming back to this series, the relationship between Riyria. More of my reviews here: http://bibliophileanonymous.blogspot.......more