by John Gwynne
Review: First, what I did not like as it is easier to be a shjtpicker.
Most scenes were a setup for an inevitable and drawn out clash between Kinda Good and Mostly Evil. The constant state of the Kinda Good being shackled to overwhelming odds in every instance was not believable. Walking lockstep with a pale story line were the YA leaders central to the theme. Riv was written, perhaps intentionally, to be an idiot while reaching lofty heights where everyone listens to her. Again, not so believable. When not suckling Bleda’s face she is having a tantrum. This theme of the Very Stupid carrying the torch in hopeful triumph wears thinner than Oprah’s underwear.
What seems like an incredible oversight, is. Fritha, one of the Very Stupid and Mostly Evil, in the first novel is found skirting around the story line as a trained white wing warrior. Then off she goes and suddenly appears as the head Mostly Evil High Priestess mucky muck whom chants unintelligible flotsam at various evil thingies while chopping them up to create greater Mostly Evil beings. The only backstory you get is that once she left Drassil she had a baby and the Ben-elim killed it. So in roughly 2 years she learned black witchcraft that is able to forge magical weapons and create a Mostly Evil army of thousands. Hmmm. No. I refuse to accept this massive hole in the story line.
Drem still holds his own as an accepted continuation as he is built with reserve. Byrne should have been central to the theme yet Kol fills that gap with treachery, guile, pettiness and manipulative behavior. Yah, you can see it coming. He gets what he gives. Again, not believable. Keld is whacked because you have to have righteous fervor in the form of revenge to create movement, right? No. What makes a disappointed reader is killing off a loved and well built character used as a tool to drive the story line where intricacy was called for. Keld was perfect for a quest running parallel to garner or gain something for Kinda Good. Makes sense since Mostly Evil has all the easy to come by cool evilly-toys.
What I did like were a few of the characters including the Crows and Battle bears. The giants are always fun because they never complicate a scene with hormones. The creatures are inventive and the fights scenes, well constructed.
This is nowhere as good as A Time of Dread. Think of it as more of a consolidation novel before the finale’.