Spoilers will be indicated in section header
As the blurb on my cover of the book points out – middle volumes are hard to pull off. Especially when a middle volume is part of a trilogy.
Frankly, I wasn’t as thrilled with this book as I was with the first volume in the series, but it had it’s high points and its low points. overall it was a worthwhile read and definitely worth the money spent on it. It’s also a book that I would happily return to again… though whether or not that happens will depend on my impressions of the third and final installment of this trilogy (Spellbreaker) . Which should be arriving in my mailbox sometime in early October!
Plot – Pacing
Like the first novel in the series the events of the story take place over the course of just a few days, 10 years after the first novel ends.
Cleric Francesca DeVega is a healer working in the city of Avel. When a patient dies on her operating table and then comes back to life she is shocked to say the least. This patient throws her into the events of the story where she is forced to work with an ex lover and also thrown into association with none other than the main character of our first installment, Nicodemus Weal.
She is dragged into the demon’s plot to take over and begin the war of disjunction and in the process discovers things about herself she never knew before.
Overall the book was well paced, and added well to the pacing of the series. Being set 10 years after the first novel lent a sense of realism to the story. In fantasy books the major events all tend to happen rapid fire and in a short amount of time, a war can be won in a year or less. Charlton does well to spread out the major events and show the passing of time in his story by allowing struggles and mundane things to occur between books.
It was at first a little difficult to get into, the book having a different main character than the first novel, a rare sight in any genre, but once you got into it and started really reading it the pace and plot took over and carried you into Charlton’s fictional world just like the first book.
There were a few events that happened abruptly and I have to say that I don’t have a strong negative or positive opinion of them.
The events in question were events that caught me off guard as a reader but as a writer I know that Charlton likely wrote those sections to be abrupt so that we might experience them in a similar manner as the characters, who likely also found them to be abrupt – that’s life after all.
Their abruptness did anger me in the moment, as I was afraid that I skipped a page or two in my hasty turning to take in more of the story, but after a few more pages and realizing that nothing was skipped my writer brain took over and I understood what had been done.
Representation – A few spoilers here Indicated in italics with a preceding *** and followed by the same to indicate the end
One of the things that drew me to the first book in this series was that oh so rare element in fantasy novels, the representation of disability. In the first novel we saw Charlton representing his own disability of dyslexia in an engaging and believable manner for the fantasy genre. So well in fact that those who are unaware of what dyslexia is might not have realized what he was doing. He even managed to represent in that novel the discrimination and prejudice against such disorders as dyslexia.
*** This is a bit of a spoiler but I’ll try not to give too many details about where and how in the book this occurs.
The second disability represented in this novel, that I have rarely seen covered in any type of fiction, was deafness. Though it did not come to light until later in the book it was an interesting representation and from accounts I’ve been given from people in my life who are deaf or hearing impaired, it was a well executed job. ***
So often in the all-too-rare books where disability is touched upon it is an obstacle or plot point to be overcome, one of the gatekeepers in the typical story structure and by the end of the book the characters are living happily ever after.
I am happy to report that in this story, that was not the case. It’s an encouraging thing that the disabilities while briefly touched upon as an obstacle were not one of the bad guys in this novel. In fact, the disabilities of these characters made them stronger and more able to accomplish their roles in the story. While at first their disabilities did seem to be an obstacle to overcome it was wonderful to see them painted as anything but evil and wrong.
I’ve given this book 4/5 stars. It is well written and the story is so far being very well executed. there were some places where plot transitions and point of view changes were rather abrupt, but it all had a purpose. (Even if it took me a little bit to see that.)
Charlton is an amazing author and he has done very well to represent different disabilities in his writing, a rare sight in any genre, but especially in fantasy.
This is not a book to skip, especially if you have already read the first book and need to know where the overall story is going to go! I definitely look forward to the next book arriving in my mailbox soon!