Series: Sorcery Ascendant Sequence #2
Published by Harper Voyager on February 2nd 2016
Genres: High Fantasy
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Anasoma, jewel of the Mahruse Empire, has fallen. As orphaned, monk-raised Caldan and his companions flee the city, leaving behind their hopes for a new beginning, horrors from the time of the Shattering begin to close in.
With Miranda’s mind broken by forbidden sorcery, Caldan does the unthinkable to save her: he breaks the most sacrosanct laws of the Protectors. But when the emperor’s warlocks arrive to question him, Caldan realizes that his burgeoning powers may be more of a curse than a blessing, and the enemies assailing the empire may be rivaled by more sinister forces within.
And soon, the blood of innocents may be on Caldan’s own hands.
This is a review for the second book in the Sorcery Ascendant Sequence, and so contains mild spoilers for book one. You may wish to read my review for A Crucible of Souls instead.
Caldan and his companions have escaped the fallen city of Anasoma, and are on a mission to alert the rest of the empire that the Indryallans have invaded. Meanwhile, Aidan and his band of dark sorcery exterminators have found themselves with Gazija and his mysterious Five Oceans people, along with the magistrate Vasile. Back in Anasoma, Lady Felicienne is doing what she can from the inside of the sealed city. War has arrived, and each group has a mission to try to stop it in its tracks.
This book has me torn. On one hand, I’m really enjoying this world. I find the magic system fascinating, with constructs and craftings drawing power from each sorceror’s “well”, and while the political system with two emperors is kind of baffling, I am enjoying the battles and not knowing which (if either) of the sides are good or evil.
On the other hand, this second book suffers badly from middle book syndrome. There is a lot of travel, all the way through. Hardly anything happens for the first 400 pages, and then when something does happen for one set of characters, the momentum is dumped when Caldan starts crafting in the quiet city for a chapter. There are a lot of points of view throughout this book, and I didn’t feel they were particularly well handled to provide the best pacing.
There is still a lot of tension, though, especially when Amerdan was involved – what a terrifying character he’s turning out to be! Caldan still hasn’t won me over with his self-taught master-level sorcery but I feel his time is coming. In fact, the last fifty pages or so was the best part of the series so far – if only more of this book could have been as dramatic.
Despite what I’ve said here about the slow pacing, I thought the writing itself was really very good. If the idea of a slow middle book is putting you off, you may wish to wait until the third book comes out, then read the two of them together. I’ll certainly be looking forward to hearing where things go from here.