This review is based on a beta copy I received from the author.
One of the things I always like about M.L. Spencer’s novels is that, for a lot of the characters, there is rarely a clear cut division between good and evil and this one is no exception. After the events of the previous novel, the city of Karikesh is still recovering from the devastating battle with the Turan Khar when the armies of the Rhen rise up to take back the territory the Malikari took from them. As one character puts it, he could detest them for their opportunism even while acknowledging that he would likely do the same in their place. The ruthlessness and brutality with which they attack their former invaders is shown in only a few chapters but sticks in the mind of both characters and reader.
Another common theme is the characters being confronted with the consequences of their actions. Here Rylan discovers that, as a result of the steps he took during the invasion, he has inadvertently set in motion a series of events that will result in hundreds of human sacrifices. Unwilling to have that on his conscience, he sets off looking for a way to fix what he has broken, even if it means his own death.
It’s often hard to review the middle part of a trilogy since it is fundamentally dependent on knowledge of the 1st part and that the major plot threads are left unresolved until the next instalment. Having said that, enough of the background is given without info-dumping to make it possible (although not recommended) to read this without first having read Chains of Blood. Perhaps more importantly, the ending of this novel left me cursing that I would have to wait to find out what happens next. And that is what you want from a middle instalment.
4 out of 5 unstable Sky Portals