I read the first book The Sentinel Mage and reviewed it here – would the second book prove to be as entertaining?
The Seven Kingdoms are in the grip of an ancient and terrible blood curse. Thousands have died; thousands more yet will. Only one man can end the curse: the fugitive Osgaardan prince and reluctant mage, Harkeld. The road to salvation is long and arduous. Harkeld has outrun his father’s soldiers, but he can’t hope to outrun the assassins – the notorious, deadly Fithians – clamouring for the bounty on his head. Even the Sentinel mages who guide and guard him are no match for Fithian steel. Faced with the ever-present threat of death, Harkeld must learn to use his fire magic, or die. Meanwhile, in Osgaard’s gold-tiled palace, Harkeld’s sister Princess Brigitta is living on borrowed time, hostage to their brother’s ambition. And far to the east, young orphan Jaimé journeys with a band of mysterious, dangerous fighters, heading north for a purpose he does not yet understand.
I enjoyed the first book and liked this one even more. The characters and world had stayed with me sufficiently that despite having read The Sentinel Mage back in May, I immediately found myself back in the world. This time around, the story hit the ground running and we were right back in the middle of the action with Harkeld still dodging and ducking while being looked after by a group of mages. While he still loathes and despises everything they stand for, after a catastrophic attack, he finds he has to learn how to control his formidable skills. I still want to shake him till his teeth rattle, but this time around he isn’t quite so annoying.
Princess Brigitta’s story is every bit as gripping as she struggles to cope after being married off in the first book as major changes are afoot in the palace – and not necessarily for the good… While poor little orphaned Jaimé is tagging along with a group of armed men, who allow him to do chores in return for food and shelter – they even train him to use a knife.
The story whips along at an increasing lick and held me so that I stayed up reading way later than I should. Be warned, though, there is no real resolution to the story arc, so I need to get hold of the third book in the series, The Blood Curse to find out how everyone fares. Which is one of my New Year’s resolutions. Without holding up the pace, Gee has evoked a vivid world where a terrible curse is destabilising the populace as it pollutes the water supply. Besides, I find I’m warming to the spoilt prince – in fact it is a refreshing change to have a flawed protagonist I’d like to slap at times for his selfish thoughtlessness.