In a world of turmoil, following the king’s death, the traitor Vasic is struggling to secure his rule over the combined Peninsular Kingdoms whilst the exiled queen, Alwenna, has taken refuge with freemerchant community whose elders fear her dark power. Mistrust rules the day with bribery, drugs, traffic king of children, and murder rife throughout the kingdom.
As the priestess’ plot for revenge continues, Alwenna a leaves to seek the outcast group of loyal kinsman. Marten attempts to restore Alwenna to the throne but as the priestess closes in, will he succeed?
Overall Impression: Not quite as good as the first one, but still pretty good.
Recommend for: Fans of epic fantasy and intrigue.
It took a little while for this one to get going, but once it did, it moved pretty quickly. I saw this book as more of a setup for the next one since there wasn’t quite as much action in this one like there was in the first book. At first, this was a little frustrating. “Why isn’t Alwenna doing anything! She was so awesome in the first one and now she does nothing!” But then you realize, “Oh, wait. Alwenna is super pregnant by now. It would be weird if she were wandering about saving people while like seven months pregnant.” So it actually makes sense that Murray pays more attention to other characters in this book than she does with Alwenna. Having a character that is pregnant often means that the other characters end up having to do the heavy-lifting—both literally and figuratively—so once I realized this, the pacing didn’t bother me as much.
However, there we a lot of characters being balanced in this book which made it difficult for some characters to get the page time that they needed. By this, I mainly mean Lady Delena and Bleaklow. I wanted to get to know them a little more, that way later events felt more meaningful. In the end, I kind of saw them more as devices rather than characters. Good devices, but devices none the less.
I am also still confused about Alwenna’s powers. They are coming a little more into focus since she begins to figure out how to control aspects of her powers, but the events at the end of the last book are still a little confusing to me. Granted, I think they are still confusing to everyone else in the book, so I guess we really aren’t supposed to understand them yet anyway. Also, the stuff with the Grey Brethren confuses me a little too, but that also seems to have everyone else confused except for the priests. And they aren’t going to divulge their secrets anytime soon. Maybe this will all be answered in the third book.
Other than that—and a couple nit-picky things I won’t mention here—it’s a solid second book in a series that sets up for the third one rather nicely. It kept me reading and made me want more after I was done. It accomplished what it needed to in an entertaining way. What more could you ask for? Looking forward to the next one! Wait. There’s going to be a next one right? Tell me there’s a next one!