WOOT! I managed to get my goal done before midnight tonight! Two books done from my reading pile! yay! Anyway to start, before you decide to pick up this book, I strongly recommend reading the first one of this series, called A Darkness Forged in Fire, as the second one picks up right where it ended.
In this second book, we find the Konowa and his Iron Elves in persuit of his old squad of the original Iron Elves while at the same time, finding the next star and where it plans to land. However there’s a race to get the fallen star, as the Shadow Monarch (an elf witch) also has her sights to reach it for her quest towards absolute domination.
As with various fantasy epic series I’ve read, there are different story arcs in this plot. You have the main plot; to stop the Shadow Monarch. Then you have Konowa’s quest, which is to free him and his Iron Elves from this dreaded Blood Oath and to also recruit back his original Iron Elves army. Then you also have the interesting plot of Renwar, a soldier in the Iron Elves who has trouble with visions, and hears voices. He realizes he is different from the rest of them and wants desperately to end his Oath and free himself from his agony. True, this may seem like a lot to read, but it’s not confusing or muddled. Everything is clear and easy to understand so you won’t get lost while reading because eventually it all ties together in the end.
I loved this book. Although I sort of had to go back and jog my memory a bit I loved the action and the doses of comedy mixed into this story. There is plenty of action so you will not be bored with this book. I find it interesting this nice mix of cannons and muskets with magic and swords. It add a uniqueness to this type of fantasy story and in some ways it reminds me a lot of the Sharpe series (which I enjoyed reading as well). There were parts in the story where the dreaded realization hits you and you’re blindsided with a giant revelation or a surprise. I’ve been blindsided at least two or three times reading this book. Plus the ending was a total cliffhanger and I couldn’t believe it ended that way and I had to reread the last few pages to make sure I got it right (but I still couldn’t believe it ended like that)
I find myself very attached to some of these characters (I usually do with several characters while reading fantasy). You actually follow Renwar more in this story as he’s central to what’s been happening, and you see how he develops as a character. I like Yimt. He provided the comic relief but you knew he loved his squad and cared for each of them in his own way. It was too bad you don’t really read much of Konowa (not like the first one) as I like him a lot (he reminds me a lot of Richard Sharpe of the Sharpe series) but he’s changed and not necessarily for the better.
Overall a really good book. The plot moves quick and to the point. Unlike some series where when you reach the “middle point” of the series everything stands still then the series start to drag. Not with this one. You’re taken to the next stage with more surprises in store. I can’t wait for the third one.
I give it a 9 out of 10.