This is the second volume of a series – first book: There Will Come a Darkness – so I’m not going to give a description. It would just spoil the various plotlines that come together at the end of the first book. So I’m just going to give some general thoughts on this second book.
First: I loved There Will Come a Darkness, but I hardly remembered it at all by the time I first tried to read the second volume back in the fall. I listened on audio, and after the first chapter, I had no idea what was going on, or which character was who. So I returned the audiobook, and decided to wait until I could get a physical copy of the book (which turned out to be this month).
Second: Reading a physical copy helped me to remember a little from the book, though I was still pretty lost. Thankfully, there seemed to be enough recap that I could tell what was happening, though not enough that I fully remembered.
Third: This book is what they call “splitting the party” in RPGs. There are five narrators, narrating four different storylines that don’t come together until the last 50 or so pages of the book. The first book was set up this way as well, but it was all about bringing separate parties together, not splitting up folks who are at one point working in tandem. Splitting the party too many ways or for too long is often a really terrible idea in books as it means that the reader is required to care about all the different stories in order to be fully engaged. It also has the potential for overwhelming a book with too many stories that never go anywhere (a la George RR Martin). Unfortunately, I was really only engaged with one of the stories of this volume, so the other ones kinda bored me to bits.
Fourth: It took 270 pages for the action to start.
Fifth: Almost all the action happens in the last 50 or so pages, making the ending chaotic and rushed. Plus, while it brought all the parties together again for a short bit, the ending once again split the party. Sigh.
Sixth: Both books have focused a lot on world-building, but about halfway through this story, we finally got some deep background on the mythology of this world. And that mythology is crucial to the events that have been happening through the whole series. Now, it’s possible that I just don’t remember properly, but it feels like there wasn’t quite enough setup in the earlier volume for the amount of revelation in this book. But again, I don’t remember the first book very well.
Conclusion: It took me a long time to get through this book, and I wouldn’t consider it a favorite like the first one. There were a lot of problems to sort out, and I’m worried that the third volume is going to be another slow-build, multi-party saga, when the action should have built up to a higher pitch by now.