I’ve done it again – blithely requested a book from Netgalley I really liked the look of without realising it was midway into a series. So did this compromise my enjoyment of this multi-viewpoint epic fantasy?
Chloe’s quest to escape the Oracle’s prophecy leads her to a magus with a secret: the eldren are not the only race to use magic in warfare. An ancient power is rediscovered, and a forgotten people will return. Meanwhile, cursed by his birth, Dion tries to forge a new life at sea, away from both the eldren and his former life in Xanthos, but the one thing he can’t leave behind is his heritage.
There’s a lot going on in this book, but Maxwell is clearly a capable and experienced author with plenty of technical ability at his fingertips. This book could so easily have become bogged down in the morass of plotlines, the characterisation could have been thinner and pacing could have stuttered. None of those problems occurred as I was quickly whisked up into the narrative, engrossed by the eldren – a fascinating race who shapeshift into formidable foes. However, there is a high price to pay for such an ability which I really enjoyed – it gave them a vulnerability which stopped them being ridiculously powerful and allowed them to be singled out and hunted by suspicious humans.
Maxwell writes with an edge – I was a tad winded when several of the main characters didn’t make it to the end of the book and in several cases, the characters who died were solid favourites. This is a world teetering on the edge of all-out war. Politics is becoming lethal and those with most to lose are evermore lethally ruthless to hang onto what they have and stopping at nothing to reach out for more. The characters who I particularly bonded with were Chloe and Dion, but I also was rooting for Aristocles, Chloe’s father and Zachary, the kindly eldren who was leader of their secret village.
The worldbuilding is varied and well depicted without slowing the pace, which is harder to pull off than Maxwell makes it look. As for finding it difficult to follow being the second book in the series – I wasn’t even aware there was a Book 1 until I went on Goodreads to get hold of the blurb and a copy of the cover. This is an accomplished, engrossing read for those of you who enjoy your epic fantasy with plenty of adventure, a roller-coaster journey for the main characters along with plenty of politicking and treachery.
I haven’t encountered Maxwell’s books before, but I’m definitely going to get hold of the first book in the series, Golden Age, and I shall be looking out for the next book in this entertaining and well written series. My unbiased review has not been influenced by acquiring an arc from the publisher via Netgalley.